Starring Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Rachel Covey, Idina Menzel, Samantha Ivers, Matt Servitto, Joseph Sirvatto and the voice of Julie Andrews.
Screenplay by Bill Kelly.
Directed by Kevin Lima.
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. 107 minutes. Rated PG.
The idea of a post-modern fairytale has been done before – but rarely with such love and skill as it is in Enchanted.
The film takes the typical fable formula of most animated fare and gives it all an affectionate Bronx cheer.
Amy Adams is perfection as Giselle, the storybook princess who is transported from her animated world to modern Manhattan. Adams effortlessly captures the innocence and kindness of the character without becoming a spoof of herself; sweet but not saccharine, charming and at the same time disarming. This is truly a star-making performance (though Adams has already had one of those in Junebug). If this performance doesn’t make her an A-lister (and all signs point to the fact that it will) then there is no sense in Hollywood.
Enchanted is a fish-out-of-water tale and at the same time it is so much more.
As Giselle experiences New York City the audience is able to re-experience the magic of the big city, seeing it through Giselle’s completely irony-free eyes. She is followed to the big city by her Prince Charming (James Marsden of Hairspray), a courtly and brawny galoot who is as brave as he is slightly dense. There is also weaselly servant (Timothy Spall) and a smart and cute chipmunk.
However, Giselle comes to question her beliefs when she meets some natives and comes to love the city – and a family she meets there.
Patrick Dempsey plays the anti-Prince Charming, a cynical divorce lawyer who has lived through the breakup of his own marriage. He is trying to get his little daughter to give up on her fantasies about princesses, so he is shocked when they meet one and both fall for her.
All of this is peppered with a wonderfully playful score by Howard Mencken of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid fame. The songs work particularly well in a Berkley-esque dance sequence in Central Park and the scene where Giselle sings and calls for the furry forest creatures to help her clean, but she is only able to find rats, pigeons and cockroaches.
Of course, no fairy tale is complete without an evil stepmother and Susan Sarandon brings the mean as the witchy woman who tries to kill our heroine. This leads to a climax that might be a touch too special-effects heavy for the film’s good – in fact it is surprisingly reminiscent of the ending of Aladdin – however this slight misstep can’t undo the bushels of goodwill that Adams and the script have already brought to the screen.
With old-fashioned animation giving way to the slightly more soulless computer-generated type, Enchanted may indeed be the wave of the future. At the very least, it’s the most entertaining blend of live action and animation since Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: December 26, 2007.