The amazing thing about Enchanted, which hits theaters Nov. 21, is that Amy Adams’ Giselle — a cartoon princess who becomes a flesh-and-blood New Yorker — is never annoying, which is no easy task. Though Disney characters have always yearned for “true love’s kiss” in their fantasy lands, this unlimited optimism could have easily become gag-inducing in the real world. Not with Adams (Junebug). She is so believable as a living and breathing cartoon that you hope she’ll find love that’ll last “forever and ever.”
Enchanted, from director Kevin Lima, begins like any other Disney flick. In Andalasia, where you can find “the valley of contentment” and “the meadow of joy,” Giselle is about to marry Prince Edward (James Marsden, who plays Cylops in the X-Men movies). But his evil mother, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), doesn’t want to surrender her throne. So she shoves the princess down a well that leads to “a place where there are no ‘happily ever afters’” and turns animated Giselle into human being Giselle.
That place, of course, is a Times Square manhole. A McDreamy single father named Robert (Patrick Dempsey, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy) eventually comes to Giselle’s rescue and lets her move in with him and his young daughter (Rachel Covey). He isn’t sure where Giselle is from: “It’s like you escaped from a Hallmark card,” he quips.
Robert is a divorce lawyer who is pessimistic about his relationship with Nancy (Idina Menzel) — his longtime girlfri/files/storyimages/who isn’t happy that her man is letting another woman crash on his couch. Giselle spends her days believing “dreams do come true,” waiting for Prince Edward and sewing clothing made from Robert’s curtains. (Hey, a Disney princess has to wear a dress.) By the time her prince shows up and has taken human form — with Queen Narissa not far behind with poisoned apples — Giselle isn’t ready leave the city…or Robert.
Props to Disney for poking fun at the characters they’re famous for creating. When Giselle busts into a song in New York, for example, her voice doesn’t summon bunnies, deer and turtles. No, here sewer rats, pigeons and cockroaches show up to help her clean. It’s also refreshing to hear Robert explain the concept of dating to Giselle and how some marriages /files/storyimages/in divorce, a thought so devastating it brings her to tears. Marsden is almost too believable as a singing doofus who seeks advice from a magic mirror, err, television.
The score, from Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, is one of the best from a Disney movie in recent years. “That’s How You Know,” which shows off the pipes we never knew Adams had, should surely get some Oscar consideration.
Adams may not give a traditional, award-caliber performance, but she is still a dominating on-screen presence. It would have been a bold move for Disney to show that, sure, not all romances are like fairy tales, but that’s not the goal of Enchanted. The purpose is to prove that, even in the real world, things can /files/storyimages/“happily ever after” — there’s that phrase again. Sure, it’s a bit cheesy, but Adams at least makes it seem plausible.
Out of 4