Directed by Kevin Lima
Starring Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Susan Sarandon
Songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
Music by Alan Menken
Walt Disney Pictures
Enchanted serves up all things classic Disney: a storybook fairy tale about a naive young girl, her helpful forest friends, the brave young prince that comes to find her, and an evil witch turned crone who’s out to get her. There’s singing, and magic, and falling in love. And it’s rendered in 2D hand-drawn animation … for the first 10 minutes or so.
In the fairy tale land of Andalasia, helpful forest creatures gather around the beautiful young Giselle, who sings her days away awaiting the arrival of her one true love. One day, while battling a troll, the brave and handsome Prince Edward hears the sound of a beautiful singing voice, which leads him to Giselle’s home. The two fall instantly in love and plan to marry the following day. When bride-to-be Giselle arrives at the castle the next day, she’s stopped by the prince’s wicked stepmother Queen Narissa, disguised as an old hag. Giselle naively follows the hag, who leads her to then pushes her down a magic well to a place where there are no “happily ever afters.”
Told you, it’s a classic Disney animated tale … until it goes live-action when Giselle hits bottom and comes out through a manhole in the middle Times Square in New York City.
The lost Giselle (Amy Adams), dressed in what has to be the biggest wedding gown ever, struggles through the inhospitable busy streets trying to find a way back home. Rain-soaked and scared, Giselle finally meets apparently the only friendly people in NYC — Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a jaded divorce lawyer, and his more optimistic 6-year-old daughter Morgan. Thinking her to be just a confused foreigner, Robert lets Giselle spend the night on his couch.
Meanwhile, back at the well, the animated Prince Edward jumps in, along with his sidekick Nathaniel and the chipmunk Pip, to rescue Giselle. Fearing she’ll lose her royal title if Prince Edward marries, Queen Narissa manipulates Nathaniel to do her bidding in the “real world” to make sure Giselle never returns.
You can imagine the reaction the unusual trio gets when they come out of the manhole portal. With puffy sleeves and sword drawn, Edward (James Marsden) combs the streets and breaks out into song in his search for Giselle, while Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) dons hilarious disguises in order to thwart the Prince’s efforts. And somehow, someway, the filmmakers managed to insert a CGI chipmunk that was NOT completely annoying — he even blended in nicely and not overbearingly.
Casting Amy Adams as Giselle was genius, as her charm is truly infectious. As Giselle sings her way through Central Park, people around her begin to sing along and follow her around, and so would you. She has the ability to call all the little creatures to help her clean Robert’s messy apartment — now imagine what small critters live in the streets of NYC. Yup, she even charms them.
James Marsden is hilarious as Prince Edward. He has the strikingly handsome looks and vocal inflections of a Prince Charming type, which makes him great for the role. And Patrick Dempsey, wow. It’s hard to believe this is the same actor that played a guy who had to pay for a date in Can’t Buy Me Love. What a long way he’s come as an actor, and he was truly enjoyable as Giselle’s savior in a world of apathy. As for the wicked portion, Timothy Spall is completely at home with his bubbling minion role and Susan Sarandon plays the perfect Disney witch.
I’d be insane not to mention the catchy songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. Songs like “That’s How You Know” and “True Love’s Kiss” are the perfect edition to the Disney music catalog and ripe for Broadway, too!
Besides Robert’s long-term girlfriend Nancy (Idina Menzel) — who seems to react unnaturally to every situation (and for some reason does NOT sing in the movie!) — I’d say that there’s nothing I didn’t enjoy about Enchanted. I liked that the movie felt like they were in New York City (my hometown) and that Disney wasn’t afraid to poke a little fun at themselves.
I know a lot of people are comparing Enchanted to Splash and now I can see why — both films have that the same feel: When you view them for the first time, there’s something magical and special about them that lets you know that what you’re watching will stand the test of time … that what you’re watching is an instant classic. And that’s exactly what Enchanted is.