With time to spare and the need for something lighthearted and cutesy being introduced into my system (I had just reviewed Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door), Enchanted seemed like the perfect choice. And let’s be realistic, has Disney ever led anyone astray when they needed this kind of infusion?
The answer is yes, they have produced some very questionable films throughout the years. But thankfully, Enchanted delivered exactly what I needed – a mindless, lovey-dovey fantasy served with a small sliver of reality. It also cleverly mixes real, flesh-and-bones actors with the old-school animation style that Disney is known for, which for me was an added bonus since I identified with those animated features so well when I was child.
There are three main reasons, Enchanted is successful. First, it follows in the footsteps of the other great hand-drawn classics like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Why change the formula when it has and continues to work so well? It has a Prince Charming, or should I say a Prince Edward (James Marsden) searching for his princess, who in this particular case is the fair maiden, Giselle (Amy Adams). And how can a movie like this be considered complete without the requisite evil sorceress/queen who seeks to maintain control at all costs? It can’t be, so Susan Sarandon is cast as Queen Narissa. The twist can be found in the addition of Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey) – he’s the unassuming guy who inadvertently falls in love with Giselle and causes her to “think” (something unheard of in fairy tale land).
This leads to the second strength of the movie – the actors. I’ve always liked Patrick Dempsey. Not because he is a fantastic actor (he isn’t) but because he starred in Can’t Buy Me Love, which is one of my favorite teen angst movies ever made. For whatever reason, he has just kind of stuck with me through the years. And through those years he’s managed to play the quiet, subdued character very well, a particular talent that lends itself perfectly to the role of Robert. Susan Sarandon plays an evil bitch extremely well too. Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, for an old lady Ms. Sarandon still carries herself like a champion race horse. Kudos to her personal trainer and the rest of her support staff for keeping her in tip-top shape and ready for action. But the icing on the cake has to go to Amy Adams, whom I initially thought was Isla Fisher. She was so bubbly and exuberant that I’d swear she wasn’t acting. It seemed so natural for her to see things around her with a child-like mentality. A very convincing performance and to top it off, she is a very good looking girl too.
Lastly, as anyone who has read some of my previous movie reviews would know, I am a big proponent of good moral values (even though I don’t always follow them) and empowering people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps to make something of their lives. Enchanted, as most Disney movies, has oodles of these kinds of messages scattered about. And even though it could be said that Giselle gets her innocence corrupted by the real world, I’d argue that it simply opened the doors for more lessons to be learned.
And as much as I’d love to argue the fact that I’m not getting soft in my old age, I can’t. Yet, even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be able to find many flaws in Enchanted. It is very good movie – good for both boys and girls (although girls will like it more), and their rapidly aging parents. I can see why it has firmly planted itself at the top of the box office receipts list for the past few weeks. Check it out for yourself if you haven’t already and I’ll think you’ll agree with my assessment.