Director : Kevin Lima
Screenplay : Bill Kelly
MPAA Rating : PG
Year of Release : 2007
Stars : Amy Adams (Giselle), Patrick Dempsey (Robert Philip), James Marsden (Prince Edward), Timothy Spall (Nathaniel), Idina Menzel (Nancy Tremaine), Susan Sarandon (Queen Narissa), Rachel Covey (Morgan Philip), Samantha Ivers (Angie), Matt Servitto (Arty), Joseph Siravo (Bartender), Michaela Conlin (May)
Is there some subversion afoot in the House of Mouse? Enchanted, a fantasy in which characters from a faux-traditional Disney animated fairy tale come crashing into the real-life world of New York City, neatly parodies almost all of the most cherished traditions of the Disney institution: the ever-so-optimistic princess, the dashing-but-vacant prince, the scheming older queen-bitch, the chattering anthropomorphized animals, and so on. Of course, I don't think any neo-Marxist Disney opponents need to hang up their critical discourse just yet, as Enchanted finds some clever ways to have its cake and eat it, too.
The story begins in the animated realm of Andalasia, where a beautiful peasant girl named Giselle (Amy Adams) longs for a Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet. That is precisely what happens when she falls into the arms of Prince Edward (James Marsden), whose scheming, witchy stepmother Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) has been trying to keep him from falling in love so she can maintain the throne. To that end she pushes Giselle down a magical well, the other end of which comes out in a manhole in the middle of Times Square (one unexplored layer of that joke is that Times Square is essentially Disneyland now; just imagine if the movie had been set 25 years ago).
Now fully flesh and blood and extremely confused, Giselle runs into and eventually becomes the responsibility of Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey), a single father and divorce attorney whose practical-minded approach to relationships is a far cry from Giselle's movie-centric belief in the kind of wispy romance where you get married a day after falling in love at first sight. Thus, we have the pure-hearted romantic colliding with the cynical realist, which allows the film to gently poke fun at both views while ultimately sanctifying male/female romance as life's ultimate goal.
Meanwhile, Prince Edward and his frumpy sidekick Nathaniel (Timothy Spall), who is secretly working for the Queen, also enter the real world, accompanied by Pip, Giselle's constantly prattling chipmunk friend. In the animated world, Pip talks constantly, but in the real world, all he can do is squeak, which produces some amusing sequences in which he attempts to communicate to Edward the dangers awaiting Giselle, but the self-infatuated prince can only interpret the chattering in relation to himself.
The logic of the animated/real world divide is somewhat shaky and seems to work largely at the whim of screenwriter Bill Kelly's needs. So, for example, Pip can't talk in the real world, but Giselle's magical ability to communicate with animals is still fully intact, which is realized in the film's one absolutely brilliant sequence in which her call for all woodland creatures to help her clean up Robert's messy apartment is answered by a dizzying assortment of sewer rats, pigeons, flies, and cockroaches. The eternally optimistic Giselle, of course, doesn't miss a beat even while dancing with vermin. Amy Adams's performance will likely go unheralded, but notice the way she completely embodies the artificially graceful movements of a Disney animated princess (she never walks anywhere; rather, she bounces, glides, or traipses), but also creates a sympathetic character whose humanity ultimately shines through. A lesser actress would have been all mannerisms.
So, then, what exactly is Enchanted? Is it a subversive undermining of decades of sexist Disney narrative logic, in which beauty equals goodness, women cannot be complete without the love of a prince, and marriage is the end-all-be-all of existence, or is it a reification of those very principles? Strangely enough, it is both. Like a lenticular image, it is different according to the angle from which you view it. Granted, it does parody overly simplistic romantic yearnings, and its special-effects-laden climax, which involves a fire-breathing dragon taking over uptown Manhattan, features Giselle coming to the rescue of her man, not the other way around. Yet, at the same time, it delivers on every element in the Disney formula, right down to the Alan Menken-penned show tunes. So, those who want to see a critique of formulaic Disney romanticism will certainly find some nuggets to cherish, but they're pebbles in comparison to the mighty narrative and ideological boulders at which they're being thrown.
|Enchanted is also available on Blu-Ray (SRP $34.99).|
|Subtitles||English, French, Spanish|
|Distributor||Buena Vista Home Enterainemtn / Paramount Vantage|
|Release Date||March 18, 2008|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|Enchanted is presented in an excellent anamorphic widescreen transfer that makes the most of both the bright, deeply saturated look of classic Disney animation and the live action photography in New York City. Colors are bright and natural, and the image is appropriately sharp and crisp. On a side note, the opening animated sequence is pillarboxed to create a 1.85:1 aspect ratio that widens out to 2.35:1 when the film transitions to live action. Both the Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround soundtracks are well done, with good use of the surround channels (note, in particular, how the ambient noises of the city are spaced out when Giselle first crosses over). The catchy songs are nicely rendered, as well.|
|“Fantasy Comes to Life” is a section comprising three six-minute featurettes, each of which focuses on a major sequence in the film: “Happy Working Song” shows us how the certifiably insane mixture of live animals and digital effects came together for the film's funniest sequence; “That's How You Know” focuses on that song's choreography and live shoot in Central Park; and “A Blast at the Ball” looks at the use of both digital and practical effects in the film's climax. There are six deleted scenes, each of which is introduced by director Kevin Lima, who explains why each was cut. Some of these are entire sequences, while others are extended versions of scenes in the film (some where never actually completed, for example, the alternate opening, which has recorded sound, but only storyboarded images). There are also two minutes of mildly amusing goofs, an animated Carrie Underwood video, and a six-minute computer-animated short film about what was happening to Pip when Giselle first went over to New York (it is supposed to look like a pop-up book, but it plays more like a rough animatic for an unfinished scene and will likely not hold the interest of anyone over 10).|
Copyright ©2008 James Kendrick
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