Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Enchanted (2007)

Disney’s Enchanted (2007)

Sara Freeman

Enchanted is both a return to and a departure from the richly textured legacy of Walt Disney’s past. This works for and against the film; in an effort to right some of these wrongs, Enchanted attempts to subvert Disney chauvinism by creating a pro-female role model in the form of a traditional Disney princess, Giselle (Amy Adams). She’s a bubbly, kind-hearted gal with lots of pep and vigor towards, well, getting married. That’s when she’s animated though. The meta-cinematic blending of animation and live-action pokes fun at such Disney stereotypes as singing with “forest” animals and the “prince saves fair maiden” ending.

After being banished to the “place with no happily ever after’s” a.k.a. NYC, Giselle takes what she likes of reality and lovingly discards what she doesn‘t. She lends the city a dose of her fairy tale magic and in return, is given a bit of advice (and genuine chemistry) from a handsome divorce lawyer, Robert (Patrick Dempsey). He tells her she should take some pride in herself - find some of her own interests and passions and, hey, get to know the handsome Prince (James Marsden, this generation’s Ralph Bellamy) she’s going to marry.

While the ending of the film does subvert a significant number of Disney’s chauvinistic ideals (she marries the divorce lawyer, opens her own clothing store), it fails by making Giselle follow everything Robert says instead of letting her find out about the ways of the world for herself. Which, in turn, gives the other, far less important female in the film (Robert’s girl friend, Nancy (Idina Menzel) the opportunity to marry Giselle’s has-been Prince. The NYC girl wants the fairy tale and the fairy tale Princess wants NYC.

I feel a little guilty admitting to this, but Enchanted is unabashedly and utterly delightful in all other regards. I know that sounds cheesy, but…it really is. Amy Adams is both hilarious and sincere in her princess role and her sense comedic timing reminds me greatly of Katharine Hepburn’s first foray into comedy (Bringing Up Baby, 1938) with a few hints of Carole Lombard and Ruby Keeler thrown in. As a devout Disney watcher (god damn the child inside me), I found myself giggling with the other seven year old ladies in the theatre at the in-jokes about Disney’s older films.

There’s also the matter of the musical score - it’s composed by Disney alum’s Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz who were responsible for the snazzy tunes of The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) and I can’t help but love the Broadway-esque quality to both the music and the four or so musical numbers in the film.

Ultimately, Enchanted is a worthwhile film that has its heart in the right place with its head following closely behind it. I would much rather show my theoretical daughter Enchanted than the likes of Cinderella (1950) for a positive example of a female heroine inside the marvelous world of Disney. Maybe Disney’s next rendezvous with a Disney Princess will be more fulfilling on every level.


A. Dowd said...

You make me actually want to see this. It looked insipid, but looks can be decieving. I'll check it out on DVD.

What about Susan Sarandon as the Evil Witch character? Is she portrayed as an ugly, heartless old shrew? She'll never get married, so she wants to ruin everyone else's chances-- that sort of thing? Just curious.

Watch Offside!

Josh Staman said...

So...what you're saying is...this is a good movie?

I adore Amy Adams and her performance in 'Junebug' was magical.