As a guy going to see a movie where the main concept revolves around a group of typical fairy-tale characters such as a sweet, naïve princess, a heroic prince, helpful frisky critters, and an evil queen, I was surprised to find that Enchanted really lives up to its name.
Enchanted is an extremely clever film filled with amazing performances that reaches Disney’s goal of pleasing all age groups.
The first 12 minutes of the film begin with a vintage hand-drawn world called Andalasia, filled with many of Disney’s old clichés — from the extremely beautiful castle to the overpopulated forests.
In Andalasia, Giselle (Amy Adams) sings about receiving her true love’s kiss from soon-to-be arriving Prince Edward (James Marsden). However, the evil Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) knows that if her son, Edward, marries Giselle, she will be dethroned. Unwilling to give up her throne, Narissa devises a plan to send Giselle to a place “where there are no happily-ever-afters” — New York City.
Once Giselle arrives in New York the animation is gone. Her cartoonish character is greeted with a gritty Manhattan atmosphere.
On her search for Andalasia, she attracts the attention of Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a divorced lawyer, who, while skeptical, doesn’t know what to make of her and lets her stay a night at his apartment. However, once Prince Edward hears about Giselle’s departure to New York, he comes after her. This leaves Giselle with a very important decision to make — whether to stay in Manhattan with Robert or go back with Prince Edward to Andalasia.
Not only do we get a fairy-tale film with a moralistic message, but we also get to see the fun side of Disney’s magic. There are amazing pull-out-all-stops musical numbers, including one performed right in Central Park. Also, there is an amazing ballroom sequence that brings those stunning fairy-tale ballroom dances to life.
Marsden (X-Men) does an amazing job of staying in character as an outlandish and dim-witted prince. Marsden’s character is so outrageous that it may be hard to deliver lines with a straight face, but Marsden’s facial expressions and delivery never once make us to see through his disguise.
Ultimately, it is Adams who steals the show with her performance as wide-eyed, curious Giselle. Her facial expressions, speech, approach and overall personality are like an animated character sprung to life, all without going too over the top, as most actresses would do. It is hard to imagine Enchanted without Adams as the lead role.
Enchanted can please just about any age group. For younger children, it has the cartoon sensibility and childish humor that kids enjoy.
At the same time, an older audience can appreciate the hints of satire neatly placed throughout the movie. It takes situations from old Disney classics and uses them for a great comedic effect. For example, in one scene, the statue of Prince Edward that Giselle makes is posed in the same manner as Ariel’s (The Little Mermaid) statue of Prince Eric.
Don’t judge the film by the Disney label that it holds. Not only does it embrace the old fairy-tale elements, but at times it subverts them in order to create a different type of Disney film. It is a breath of fresh air because it does not try to take itself seriously. Enchanted proves that a movie can still play on the old fairy tales that we all know and love and still be intelligent and vastly rewarding.