by Laura Tucker
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The cornerstone of Disney seems to be films with a princess involved. From the very beginning of their newest creation, Enchanted, it’s clear they know how to poke a little fun at themselves. The opening credits include music and graphics that reminded me of the old Wonderful World of Disney that used to be on Sunday nights. The only thing that’s missing here is Tinkerbell blessing the title with her wand, as the credits dissolve into a pop-up storybook. Throughout this new film it managed to somehow retain that old charm and keep poking fun of it as well.
Enchanted features Disney’s newest princess, Giselle (voice of Amy Adams), taking a page from Cinderella’s book, being helped by small animals, and singing about the prince of her dreams and true love’s kiss. The man she has been dreaming of, Prince Edward (voice of James Marsden), while standing over his capture of a huge ogre, sings a song that happens to take off where Giselle’s left off. They get together and decide to get married the next day, but before she gets to the church, Giselle is tricked by the evil Queen Narissa (voice of Susan Sarandon) into falling into a “wishing well” that is really a vortex leading to a sewer grate in live present day New York.
Once Giselle appears in New York, she is no longer a cartoon, but a live person, still wearing an elaborate wedding gown. She’s quite disoriented in this strange new world, mistaking the little person she sees for Grumpy and asking a bum for some kindness, only for him to steal her crown. Elsewhere in the city, divorce lawyer Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey) attempts to bribe his daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey), to accept his news of proposing to his longtime girlfriend Nancy (Idina Menzel), but she’s not to keen on the news she may be gaining a step-mother.
Morgan sees Giselle trying to gain access to a glittery pink castle billboard sign, mistaking it for a place to get help, and demands they pull the car over to help her. Robert relents and lets Giselle spend the night at their home, and in the morning she wakes up and sees the messy apartment, and calls to her small animal friends to help clean up. In New York, the animals consist of pigeons, rats, flies, and cockroaches, and they tidy up, scrub the toilet, and wash the dishes. Again, since the movie seems to poke a little fun at the Disney princess genre, once the pigeon and cockroach celebrate a job well done, the bird eats the bug.
With Giselle making a dress to wear that day out of Robert’s curtains, he knows he has to find a way to get rid of her, explaining she seems like she escaped from a Hallmark card, but she’s content to sit and wait for her prince to come. He’s actually on his way, challenging the workers on the street to a duel before stabbing a city bus, thinking he’s saving the people inside. He’s joined by Pip the Chipmunk (voice of Jeff Bennett and Kevin Lima) and Nathaniel (Timothy Spall), who is armed with poisoned apples, with the intent of stopping the prince from finding Giselle on orders from the Queen.
There’s a lot of humor in the film, enough for the kids and adults as well. The best bit that’s continued throughout the film is Giselle breaking out into song every time she has something important to say. While walking in Central Park, she breaks into song, despite Robert telling her not to. Soon a reggae band is joining her in the song, with him questioning why everyone knows this song but him. By the time she finishes the song, all of Central Park has joined in on a huge production number with her.
The casting for these roles is perfect, especially the leading parts of Giselle and Robert. She plays the perfect wide-eyed innocent, and him the ultimate cynical New Yorker. I never would have placed Susan Sarandon as the perfect evil queen, but once I saw her face as she appeared in New York in live person form, I realized it was her and couldn’t think of any other well-known actress that would have been as fitting.
By the time the pop-up storybook closed for good, most people were clapping in the theatre. I heard someone say on the way out she couldn’t get one of Giselle’s songs out of her head, and I understood, as I couldn’t either. It seems to have been a few years since Disney has had a blockbuster hit on their hands, but I think this one has everything it needs to take a place next to Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast in the record books.
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