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Review: Disney’s Enchanted
Enchanted is a film which, by and large, came out of nowhere from a critical perspective. Disney certainly put the film in a position to be a successful venture: Thanksgiving Weekend was once their largest box office domain, so their return to the frame was inevitable. However, count me amongst those who saw this film as family fare that would be a hit with the kids but have little outside value. And, in the end, the film is far more polished and much more worthwhile than one might expect. While it is inevitably a family film which relies on the saccharine, the elements which serve as a wry homage to the animated Disney clichés prove far more prevalent than its previews portrayed.
Beginning with a beautiful opening act done in 2D animation, Enchanted tells the story of Gisele (Amy Adams), a naive forest maiden who dreams of true love’s kiss. She thinks she’s found it when the prince (James Marsden) finally notices her, and they are set to be married the next day (Live’s too short for long engagements in Andalasia) – this, however, is no good for the evil stepmother of a Queen (Susan Sarandon) who does not desire to give up her throne. And so, she dumps Gisele down a mysterious well where she emerges out of a manhole into the streets of real-life New York, stumbling her way into the life of Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a divorce attorney with a young daughter and a fiance to be (Idina Menzel). Combine with an out of control chipmunk and a loyal servant (Timothy Spall), and you’ve got the element of your standard fairy tale.
But nothing is standard about the film’s execution: take for example its take on the Working Song, where Gisele enlists the critters of New York to help clean Robert’s apartment. And yes, this includes rats and pigeons, as one would expect considering. However, I didn’t expect the film to go so far as to use cockroaches – it seemed a dark place to head, and it was honestly refreshing. As a whole, the musical numbers are one place where the film has perhaps its most successful nods to Disney’s past: “That’s How You Know” turns into a raucous Central Park-based musical extravaganza, for example, but Dempsey is used as a cynical voice throughout. It’s not a parody, really, but an homage with a wink to the audience that the creators are aware of what they’re doing.