WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD
Once upon a time when we were young, a studio, by the name of Disney, brought us the gift of entertainment. It told us animated fairy tales by the likes of “Cinderella,” “Pinocchio,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Aladdin.” Those were innocent times – full of wonder, hopefulness, and fervent dreaming. Then, one day, we suddenly reek in spirit. Perhaps, it was a rancid stench of grown-uppity. Time is forcing us to march into and sweat it out in the real world. Are we all maturing to be realistic, prepping ourselves numbed for life’s oncoming disappointments?
Maybe a clean-feeling, PG-rated viewing of “Enchanted” could scrub off the adulterated grime. The movie is practically a trip down to not-so-long-ago, with its initial scenes, drawn in old-school, two-dimensional animation. We meet the fair maiden Giselle (Amy Adams), who talks to, sings to, and dances with woodland creatures. Naturally, her heart is sighing as she dreams of meeting her one true love. Unbeknownst to her, Prince Edward (James Marsden) gallops in the distance, eager to accompany her in a duet of love outpouring. When they finally meet, they lock eyes and of course, plan to marry as soon as possible.
But it’s not happily ever after just yet. Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), the prince’s stepmother, unable to give up her throne, has mua-ha-ha diabolical plans to ruin the nuptials. She pushes the princess-to-be into a “wishing well” which transports Giselle into a world where there are no happily ever afters.
Giselle pops up, of all places, from a Times Square manhole in New York City. Dressed in a ballooned wedding gown, she is bewildered, dazed, and confused by her surroundings, as are the passing city folks and tourists by her presence. After much urban wandering, Giselle is eventually rescued by the McDreamy lawyer Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and his daughter. I don’t blame them if they think she’s a Hallmark card escapee.
To be honest, when I first heard of “Enchanted,” I judged it as a dubious venture. I can imagine it coming off gratingly cartoonish and sloppy. But when Disney dreams, I should know better. I had the same impression when “Pirates of the Caribbean” (Pirates? Really? Arrrrr you kidding me?) sailed into theaters. The two films’ common success lies in its leading performance. Amy Adams, previously nominated for “Junebug,” pulls off a “Johnny Depp” trick, carrying the movie by infusing pitch-perfect ingenuity and uncommon charm to the role. Her wide-eyed Giselle is a constant source of delight. Adams’ effortless and luminous triumph here should have earned the incomparable actress a second Oscar nomination.
Instead, the film gets triple approval in the song category, where it’s nice to see composer Alan Menken back in his game. While the music is nowhere near his compositions in early 90s, his contribution easily makes the film more enchanting. In addition to Adams and the songs, the screenplay also manages to be entertaining. The film, with its agreeable and flexible neck, gives nods to many Disney films of the past. “Enchanted” respectfully pays homage but is also a slick nudge-nudge, wink-wink kidder.
While I utterly enjoyed the movie, I’m hardly a fan of the genre. Movies aimed at young girls (especially the simple-minded ones) make me cringe sometimes for I fear they will breed the likes of delusional contestants you see from “The Bachelor,” vying for that ultimate goal of “happily ever after.” These crazies would focus more on being a pampered princess, rather a kind and gentle person. So, I opt to recommend this Disney film more for grown-ups, who’ll appreciate the sweet spoonfuls of nostalgia and escape. “Enchanted” can be an elixir for those who have given up on a storybook ending.
Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel, Rachel Covey, and Susan Sarandon
Rated PG for some scary images and mild innuendo