Written by Brian Wylie
March 17, 2008
Disney has always been famous when it comes to producing instant and timeless classics, but just how long can they really keep making these romantic classics over and over again? Can you really top Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Little Mermaid, or even Beauty and the Beast? Perhaps not, but what might happen if you combine moments from all of those classics? Something magical. I have to admit I was blow away with Disney’s recent release of Enchanted! This movie was one that I was not really looking forward to but after watching it numerous times I am still amazed in every way shape and form. Director Kevin Lima has done a fantastic job of spinning a new twist to an old, yet proven storyline, and with the perfect ensemble cast and crew (many of which are Disney veterans) this movie is nothing short of perfection.
From top to bottom the actors assembled could not have meshed any better. The actors really were able to play off of one another like anyone would in real life. Amy Adams headlines this amazing cast as the innocent girl named Giselle, who is just trying to find the guy of her dreams…her Prince Charming. James Marsden just happens to be that prince, and when the two of them meet they hit it off right away and are ready to get married the very next day. This doesn’t sit too well with Prince Edward’s stepmother, Queen Narissa. Susan Sarandon plays this arrogant, cunning, and manipulative character to evil perfection. Narissa pulls a page from Snow White and transforms into an ugly old hag that convinces Giselle to make a wish in front of the magic wishing well. To keep her crown, Narissa pushes Giselle into the well to send her to a place where there are no Happily Ever Afters, New York City.
Finding herself in a scary new place, Giselle sets out to find a way back to a castle and her prince. While being push and shoved every which way, and even getting robbed, Giselle finally finds a reluctant hero who offers her some temporary relief from the rain and confusion of the city. Single-dad, Robert, played by Patrick Dempsey takes her in and his daughter, Morgan, bonds almost immediately with this damsel in distress.
After a good night sleep Giselle notices that Robert’s apartment really needs some cleaning up. This triggers the first big musical number that really shows off some quality work a computer animation, live animation and practical effects. Giselle calls on her furry friends to help lend a hand, and the mix of live and CG critters really looked like they were following her every move and command. After seeing this scene I had to see how they made it, so I continued to watch the rest of the scene in the extra behind the scenes footage. Here you find out that Kevin Lima had trained rats and pigeons to help out with the scene and not have all of the animals are computer generated. After seeing which animals and props where real and which ones were CG, I went back and watched the live scene and I kid you not, I could not tell the difference!
After the apartment is all clean you are introduced to Nancy, who is Robert’s girlfriend of five years. Nancy comes in to see Giselle (fresh out of the shower) fall on top of Robert wearing only a towel. Naturally Nancy gets the wrong idea and storms out of the apartment creating even more chaos in Robert’s life, but that is only the beginning of a long and frustrating day with Giselle.
Meanwhile, back at the manhole in Times Square, Prince Edward and Giselle’s chipmunk friend, Pip arrive in search of his missing bride to be. Narissa discovers their rescue attempt and sends her own right hand man Nathaniel, played by Timothy Spall, after them in hopes of intercepting Giselle and dispatching her with a poison apple before Edward can bring her back.
The movie then jumps back to Robert and Giselle. Robert just can’t stand Giselle being in his life anymore, especially after she interferes with one of his divorce cases at the office, so he gives her some money and sends her on her way. He quickly has a change of heart and proceeds to take her on a walk through Central Park that turns into the film’s second big (and best) musical number. “How Does She Know” deals with dozens of performers and background scenes, and incorporates a Jamaican metal drum band which brings a modern upbeat sound that just makes this song appeal to more than just the female audience. There are also cameos by a mariachi band, stilt walkers, and roller skate street dancers. It was the best choreographed number I have seen in a very long time. The choreographer did an amazing job of making sure you couldn’t decide on what group of dancers you wanted to watch, so you’ll want to watch it more in detail over and over again. You’ll definitely want to watch how they made this in the behind the scenes footage. This song is the pivotal moment when you really start to see some changes in both of the lead character’s outlooks on life. They are beginning to understand one another or at least trying a bit harder to understand one another as they agree to go on a “date”.
During this date, as “friends” (modeled after Lady and the Tramp) you begin to see Giselle start to mature into a girl that would live in the real world. Dinner is interrupted by Nathaniel in a disguise to try and get Giselle to drink some poison. Just as Giselle is about to do the unthinkable, Pip comes to save the day. Pip proceeds to tell Giselle that Edward is in New York to save her. Giselle gets all excited but it is short lived after a scuffle between Pip and Nathaniel. After the incident at dinner, Robert and Giselle have a heart to heart and it doesn’t go well. Giselle becomes angry for the first time and while she is angry she can’t help but be happy because this is a new feeling that Robert helped her achieve. She then proceeds to look deeply into his eyes and touch his chest. This really stuns her because for the longest time she has only known that lips were the only two things that touched. This touch was new and different and she really loved this new feeling that she felt when she was around Robert. The next morning Edward finds his fair love only this time Giselle doesn’t really feel the same way she once did. So to recapture her love she asks to go on a date. This date ends up at a Kings Ball where Robert also happens to be with Nancy.
This is my favorite part of the movie due to the fact that you get so many references to old Disney classics in this one part of the movie. At the ball the two couples meet and as luck should have it, the next dance you are required to dance with someone you did not come with. This is the perfect way to have Robert and Giselle finally realize they were meant for each other. As the scene unfolds you eventually get the two of them dancing in the middle of floor just like the classic scene from Beauty and the Beast. This moment is quickly broken up by Nancy who decides to cut in realizing that she is losing her man. The only problem is she is too late.
In a desperate attempt to save her crown Narissa comes to the real world and shows up at the ball as the old hag. After a convincing conversation she gets Giselle to give in and take a bite from a poison apple; obviously an homage to Snow White. This gets the attention of the room and it is about to stroke midnight and if that happens then Giselle will be lost. To save her Prince Edward comes in to give her a true loves kiss, ala Sleeping Beauty. The only problem is that now he isn’t her true love. As the clock is striking twelve it is all up to Robert. As fate would have it Robert has found his true love and so has Giselle.
But the story doesn’t end here. Queen Narissa has had enough and is going to take her evil to another level and create her own ending to this fairytale. She transforms into a giant dragon (another Sleeping Beauty reference) and takes Robert to the top of the Woolworth building. This forces Giselle to become the hero and in a fairytale twist, save Robert. In one single moment director Kevin Lima pays tribute to a pair of Disney classics. A sword is left in the middle of the ballroom dance floor. Giselle pulls it out (Sword in the Stone) while taking off her shoes and leaving one behind (Cinderella), which will later be fitted to another damsel. The finale is spectacular and perhaps a bit unpredictable with Pip actually playing a pivotal role in the defeat of Narissa much like the way he helped with the Ogre at the beginning of the film.
Now with Narissa out of the picture it is time for everyone to find a resolution to their story. I have to admit that even though I could guess what was going to happen, Enchanted still throws you a little bit of a curve and really wraps up every loose end. Everyone ends up getting what they wanted and lives Happily Ever After.