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Enchanted

Posted by admin | Posted in Movies | Posted on 09-09-2010

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Beautiful Princess Giselle is banished by an evil queen from her magical, musical animated land and finds herself in the gritty reality of the streets of modern day Manhattan. Shocked by this strange new environment that doesn t operate on a happily ever after basis, Giselle is now adrift in a chaotic world badly in need of enchantment. But when Giselle begins to fall in love with a charmingly flawed divorce lawyer who has come to her aid even though she is already … More >>

Enchanted

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Some day my prince will come

Some day we’ll meet again

And away to his castle we’ll go

To be happy forever I know

(Lyrics from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Some Day my Prince Will Come)

“Enchanted” begins in an animated land named Andalasia, with a young girl named Giselle (Amy Adams) meeting the prince of her dreams, Prince Edward (James Marsden) and preparing to live happily ever after. Andalasia, and large parts of the movie are based on a combination of the Disney worlds of Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, so of course you can count on the appearance of an evil stepmother-wicked witch (Susan Sarandon) to put an end to all the wretched happiness.

As soon as Giselle comes within striking distance of the castle on her wedding day, the witch (disguised as an old hag) zaps her into another world where “happily ever afters” and true love apparently haven’t existed for years – present day Manhattan.

Switching to live action, Giselle tries to understand the New York state of mind, and falls into the arms of a McDreamy guy named Robert (I don’t have to tell you who the actor is, now do I?) While Giselle begins getting acclimatized and introduces herself to the local wildlife, a rescue party from Andalasia also uses the Manhattan transfer, and soon the streets of New York are stormed by a CGI chipmunk, a prince in search of his missing damsel, and a henchman with a funny accent (Timothy Spall).

If you’re a fan of fairy tales, and in particular Disney tales, you’ll love the little touches like poisoned apples in the Big Apple, Beauty & the Beast ballroom dancing and glass slippers, but this updated magical, musical, funny fairy tale will be a treat for the whole family.

A definite “YES” for family entertainment, and one you probably should buy when it comes out on DVD. Rated: 4.5 stars

Amanda Richards, December 2, 2007

Rating: 5 / 5

What would happen when an animated fairy tale princess found herself in our physical world? This question is the basis of “Enchanted,” a Disney film addressing the fairy tale clichés so effectively that it’s practically a parody. The film begins in the animated world of Andalasia with the opening of a storybook; a voiceover narration says the obligatory, “Once upon a time …” before we’re introduced to Giselle (voiced by Amy Adams), a peasant girl who, of course, lives in a quaint little cottage in the middle of the woods. As you might expect, she thinks of nothing but finding her one true love, going so far as to make a princely mannequin while singing brightly. To top that off, she’s friendly with practically every creature inhabiting the forest, and they all pay her a visit as she sings. When she’s almost eaten by a troll, the dashing Prince Edward (voiced by James Marsden) rescues her, and the two immediately decide to get married.

But Edward’s evil stepmother–Queen Narissa (voiced by Susan Sarandon)–refuses to give up the throne and vows to stop the wedding. Disguised as an old hag, she lures Giselle to a magical well and pushes her in. The well is actually a kind of inter-dimensional portal between Andalasia and our world, and according to Narissa, it’s a place, “where there are no happily ever afters.” Giselle emerges from a manhole in the middle of New York City. Amidst the confusing, frightening hustle and bustle of everyday living–in which people are rude, conniving, and fast-paced–a now-live action Giselle bumps into divorce attorney Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey) and his six-year-old daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey). They take her in, although Robert is more than a little anxious about the situation; from his point of view, a delusional woman in a fluffy white princess dress is roaming the streets of Manhattan. Morgan, on the other hand, is thrilled, believing that a real princess has entered her life.

As she prances around with all the grace and joy of the perpetually perky, Giselle gradually learns a few important things: (1) people in the real world don’t break out into song for no apparent reason; (2) people don’t like it when their curtains are used to make a dress; (3) it isn’t appropriate to call forth birds, rats, and roaches to help tidy up; and (4) love is not as simple as meeting one day and marrying the next. Or is it? She and Robert share interesting conversations on the nature of relationships, his stance being that they’re incredibly complicated, her stance being that they don’t have to be. Considering his failed marriage and his new relationship with a woman named Nancy (Idina Menzel), it’s easy to see where he’s coming from. Real life is nowhere near as simple as life in Andalasia, a place where Giselle is allowed to be naïve and trusting.

As far as Prince Edward is concerned, he follows Giselle into Manhattan and begins his heroic search. He’s just as naïve about our world–he mistakes a television for a magic mirror and a bus is a foul metal beast, and he believes he can unsheathe his sword at will. He also speaks in typical Prince Charming lingo, his words boastful and one-tracked. And much like Giselle, he, too, will break into song for no apparent reason. He’s accompanied by a Pip, a chipmunk who has lost his Andalasian ability to speak English. Pip constantly tries to warn Edward about Nathaniel (Timothy Spall), Queen Narissa’s sniveling weasel of a henchman. Under the guise of being helpful, he does whatever he can to steer Edward in the wrong direction, and most of the time, he succeeds. Will Edward find Giselle? Will they share True Love’s Kiss and live happily ever after? Or is her relationship with Robert is more complex than she would like it to be?

As you can probably tell, this film has fun toying with the classic formula of the Disney fairy tale, the most prominent being “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” So many of its plot devices are spoofed in “Enchanted,” from the love struck young maiden to the wicked queen to the brave prince. Yes, even the poisoned apple is reused, and I think it’s obvious which characters are involved in that regard. But there are other elements of parody at work here, not the least of which is music composed by Alan Menken. Menken is known for scoring a number of Disney’s films during its late twentieth century renaissance: “The Little Mermaid”; “Beauty and the Beast”; “Aladdin”; “Pocahontas”; “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”; “Hercules.” Given this track record, I can’t think of anyone better suited for the job.

And then there’s the final fifteen minutes, which features an impressive computer-animated dragon; a story like this always ends with a climactic fight between the hero and the enemy, and the hero is always supposed to rescue the enemy’s captive. But just who is the hero in “Enchanted”? Who is the enemy’s captive? The answers aren’t all that surprising, but they still make for something entertaining. That’s pretty much the way the entire film works–“Enchanted” is a film that’s perfectly aware of what it wants to accomplish, and it pokes fun at itself while simultaneously paying homage to the formulas Disney films have followed. Thank goodness it has a sense of humor; this kind of storytelling could only work for so long before starting to get silly.
Rating: 4 / 5

In `Enchanted’ two worlds collide: The real world and the animated world. This has been done before. We’ve seen Tom and Jerry tap dance along with Gene Kelly, and we certainly experienced this fusion in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ and later with ‘Space Jam’. This time the two worlds are separate, but they meet into one another. As if pop-up books spring characters from children’s fantasy stories and brought them live to the modern day world. How would we react? Just the way they do in the movie. People in New York City would wince at Shakespearean actors on the loose and in their way during a busy work day. Much like they did in the movie `Elf’ Elf (Infinifilm Edition) with Will Ferrell and James Caan, only better. And as it is with that recent Christmas classic, the meeting is meant to make the world we know a better place. That’s why the enchantment works so well.

If you want to bring wide-eyed innocence to the screen, I know of few better ways than to have Amy Adams (`Junebug’) play Giselle, a Snow White or Cinderella figure who escapes the evil witch, Narissa (here wonderfully performed by Susan Sarandon in a role we’re used to seeing Glen Close or Tilda Swinton play) from the magic kingdom, Andalasia. She’s betrothed to Prince Edward (bka “Charming” or James Marsden of `Hairspray` fame) and on the run through a starry expanse that reminded me very closely of a portal used in one of the later `Myst` games. (“Destiny” is his horse, which is to say there isn’t too much subtlety here.) And, as each character goes through the symbolically significant portal, a man-hole cover, one easily forgets that this trajectory is a close reading of the focal point of ‘Being John Malkovich’. Nevermind all this, however, for no matter how familiar certain elements may feel, the thrust of this film is certainly fresh and inviting.

The witch wants to dissolve their nuptials and has the portly Nathaniel to chase her down. On the allies’ side is a chipmunk messenger who has good intentions, but a poor success rate with only charades as his communication method. Running into Giselle is Robert (Patrick Dempsey) a jaded single father who is a prosperous, but floundering attorney. She needs him to shelter her from the rude awakening of a rainstorm on a bad side of town, and he needs her to give him a new outlook in life. He’s about to give his hand to Nancy, much to the chagrin of daughter, Morgan.

One of the great merits of this movie is how they suspend our disbelief to the events that occur. Marsden, Adams, and Sarandon bring the otherworld with them in ways that preclude any notions that over acting prima donnas are spilling their way into Central Park and beyond. Particularly Adams’ wide-eyed innocence sets up that her displacement can bring real joy and revitalization from the past without seeming facile or saccharine. (Or when it is shown to be wildly unreal, there’s plenty of good humor to poke fun of it all when they break into song.)

Once Narissa catches up with them, we begin to see that there really is decency we can draw upon in our own world and a menace that exists in their world that is worse than our own. Innoculated with chivalry and romance, all the dirt and grime of city life are given a face lift along with our spirits. Just like ‘Across the Universe’ Across the Universe before it, ‘Enchanted’ is an experience of love and music transcending the dingy mean-spiritedness that is all too often identified as reality.
Rating: 4 / 5

“Enchanted” (2007) has to be one of my favorite Disney movies in years; it is a return to the type of classic movies that were produced under Walt’s supervision, but it also acknowledges the times we live in without being too negative. Right off the bat, I was amazed to be able to watch a film that had no profanity and other than the topic of divorce, hardly any adult situations. Of course, there is some ‘wink-wink’ adult humor that will go over the head of children, but even that is pretty tame. How refreshing to know that an excellent movie can be made without looking like the 10pm news or a tawdry reality show. PLENTY of fun references to vintage Disney films, and a number of cameos by some Disney favorites.

The film begins as a typical classic Disney animated film would; Julie Andrews narrates the story of Prince Edward (James Marsden) from Andalasia, who must find his true love to marry, and his evil stepmother Narissa (Susan Sarandon), who does not want to step down from her throne and will do whatever she can to thwart Edward’s search. Enter Giselle (Amy Adams), a maiden of the forest with plenty of animal friends. She too is searching for her true love, and through song and fate, Edward & Giselle meet, fall in love, but are separated by Narissa, who sends Giselle out of the toon world and into the harsh reality of present day New York City. While Edward and Giselle attempt to reunite, a hardened divorce attorney, Robert (Patrick Dempsey) & his daughter attempt to help her along the way. Giselle’s positive attitude and belief in true love has a profound effect on Robert, who has apparently been embittered by his own divorce (what actually happened to his first wife is somewhat nebulous, and basically left open for interpretation). Robert is already seeing someone; Nancy (Idina Menzel) is the romantic girl he has been dating for the last five years. No plot spoilers here; you will have to see how it all comes together.

This film rests on the able shoulders of Amy Adams; in the role of Princess Giselle, she could have easily done a parody of Snow White, Cinderella, and the other Disney Princesses. However, she brings warmth, charm, humor, and great emotion to her character; she is totally believeable. James Marsden again shows off his tremendous vocal talent, and as a toon Prince, he gives a letter perfect performance. Although he is a little one-dimensional at times, it works perfectly with the plot and how the movie progresses. Dempsey also does a wonderful job in his role, with just the right amount of bitterness; it is very apparent that he underneath he believes in romance but what happened with #1 has forced him to change. The only weak link in the cast is Sarandon, which is a shame. She is one of our finest actresses, and yet her characterization just misses the mark for me; she lacks the power and evil that we expect from a Disney Villain; in the climax of the film, she almost appears to be yawning through her part. It is the power and force of a Disney Villain that makes their “fall” so enjoyable; evil must be very evil for the triumph of good to be truly satisfying. Still, it hardly detracts from the overall product. The songs in this film will stay with you after you watch the movie…in a good way. Rarely have I immediately been overcome with the desire to purchase the soundtrack from a film in recent years. Overall, a definite 5 stars for this movie.

The DVD is a different story; although there are extras, it does seem like Disney skimped on them. The highlight is the behind-the-scenes look, “FANTASY COMES TO LIVE,” at 3 sequences: “Happy Working Song,” “That’s How You Know,” and the Ballroom finale sequence. Seeing the layering of the CGI effects and Amy Adams having to “act” to nothing (“Happy Working Song”) gives an even greater appreciation of her talent. You will also learn that one of the dancers from “Mary Poppins” has a cameo in the “That’s How You Know” number. There is also an “extra,” PIP’S PREDICAMENT: A POP-UP ADVENTURE, that tells the tale of Pip’s alerting Edward that Giselle was no longer in Andalasia. MAYBE very young children will find this amusing, but personally, it was a little on the lame side. There is also a “Hidden Mickey” that is basically a promotion for the Bluray version of “Enchanted.” The deleted scenes are fun to watch, as is the blooper reel. Neither are very long though. The Carrie Underwood music video for “Ever Ever After” is also included.

I am sure (or at least I hope) there will be a 2-disc special edition in the near future. So, for this 2008 Widescreen edition, I give it 4 stars instead of 5 due to the lack of extras. The movie itself still packs a wallop!
Rating: 4 / 5

This film is a delight from beginning to end. It really is a film the whole family can enjoy. My 11 year-old was “enchanted” by it, my 16 year old son was laughing hysterically, and my wife and I were never bored once.

This film falls into the “fractured fairly tale” genre much like The Princess Bride which is a difficult genre to produce successfully. To add to the difficulty level this film also tackles the switch over from cartoon world to the real one. “Enchanted” succeeds here as well. The cartoon world is a tribute in style to the old fashioned cartoons we all grew up with, but the comedy and approach of the cartoon component works and is in funny balance to the real world scenes.

Amazon and other reviewers have done a good job summarizing this film and with the traditional elements of most Disney classic cartoons, there isn’t much I can add here, so here is my hits and misses approach:

The Misses:

(1) The ending goes a little over the top with effects and seems a bit out of place, although it’s still fun and interesting.

(2) The songs are good, even above average in spots, but not nearly as good as prior Disney efforts.

The Hits:

(1) It’s a great marriage of cartoon and real world storylines.

(2) The film nails the fractured fairy tale genre right on the head.

(3) The story is engaging no matter what your age is. My whole family truly loved this film.

(4) For the genre this film has terrific acted. Amy Adams is someone anyone one of us would want to marry (or adopt). Her role of the misplaced Princess in New York City is difficult to get a handle on without grating on one’s nerve, but she manages to get us to love and adore her. Patrick Dempsey is simply perfect in his role and who would ever think that James (X-Men Trilogy Marsden could sing and act so lightheartedly. Of course, Susan Saradon as the evil witch is perfectly cast and she manages to not go over-the-top as Glenn Close did as Cruella DeVille in 101 Dalmatians. The supporting cast of both familiar and unfamiliar faces are wonderful in their roles. This film is perfectly cast and makes one wonder why there isn’t an Oscar category for casting as the person who did it for this film would surely have won it.

(5) Good blend of cartoon, real world, and special effects (even if the end goes a bit wild).

(6) The humor in this film will have you on the floor laughing until your stomach hurts. I kid you not, this film is absolutely hysterical as it pokes gentle fun as Disney’s more traditionally family films. Some humor is a bit contrived in a few spots, but many seem like ad libs too.

I can’t speak enough good things about this film. This is one to treasure and watch with your family over and over again. I’m sure that I will always find something entertaining in this film even on my 100th viewing.

Respectfully Submitted,

Steve Hedge, May ’08

Rating: 5 / 5

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