Even outside of fairy tale stories, we still have an idea of what it means to live “happily ever after.” Even in action movies, we expect the hero to get the girl and ride off into the sunset. This archetype isn’t accurate to real life, and what better authority to comment on real world vs. fairy tale romance than Disney? This is the backbone of Enchanted (2007).
Giselle (Amy Adams) lives in the animated fairy tale world of Andalasia. She lives in a cottage in the woods with her animal friends and dreams of meeting a handsome prince. One day her Prince does come. She meets Prince Edward (James Marsden) and he proposes they be married tomorrow morning. The wicked Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) is threatened by Giselle; not wanting to surrender her rule of Andalasia to the prince and princess. Narissa banishes Giselle to a far off place where “there are no happily ever afters,” real-world (and live-action) New York City. Here Giselle meets Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a hardened but friendly single divorce lawyer. Robert reluctantly takes Giselle in at the insistence of his young daughter, and with great suspicion by Robert’s girlfriend. Prince Edward follows Giselle to New York along with his manservant Nathanial (Timothy Spall) and her chipmunk friend. Edward roams New York searching for his princess while Nathanial, under Narissa’s command, attempts to kill Giselle with poison apples. Fairy tale antics collide with real world complications, causing those involved to reevaluate what it means to live happily ever after.
Enchanted makes unabashed references to classic Disney fairy tales. It starts off with an opening narration (provided by Julie Andrews) read from an old book resting on velvet as was done inSnow White (1937), Cinderella (1950), and Sleeping Beauty (1991). There are many shots through out the movie that herald back to scenes from Disney classics such as the ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast (1991), Giselle’s cottage being modeled after The Seven Dwarves’ cottage, and Narissa being modeled after the evil queen in in Snow White. In one hysterical scene, Giselle sings a tune to summon animal friends to help clean up Robert’s apartment. The New York wildlife which responds are rats, pigeons, flies, and roaches; nevertheless they help do dishes, dust, and clean the bathtub. This pays homage to Snow White and Cinderella scenes. One of several musical numbers includes some of the old Mickey Mouse Club member (now seniors) as dancers. These references are fun and hilarious, but are seamlessly incorporated so they fit into the story without drawing attention to themselves.
I have yet to see a movie featuring Amy Adams where she is not a lovable character. Amy Adams’ inherent cuteness really helps sell her Disney-like Princess role; she acts sweet, naïve, optimistic, and makes exuberant displays of emotion. No one else could have played Giselle like Amy Adams does. Prince Edward is a headstrong hero who is very accustomed to everything working out perfectly as they always do for the prince charming, but New York doesn’t operate by fairy tale rules; Edward is yelled at in one scene after trying to slay a bus he mistakes for a dragon. James Marsden plays up the awkwardness of the colliding world settings very well, providing a lot of ironic and embarrassing humor. Patrick Dempsey plays the straight laced, down-to-earth lawyer; it’s great to see how Giselle helps show him that fairy tale love really can exist in the real world, and also how Robert helps show her that there is more to love than simply being with someone. The way Dempsey and Adams bounce off each other helps makes this movie both humorous and thought provoking.
Enchanted is a highly charming movie that the whole family would enjoy. If you haven’t seen it, you should. If you have seen it already, you should watch it again. Kids will love the quirky humor and the fairy tale situations, adults will enjoy the romance and nostalgic allusions of Disney classics they grew up with. This movie is comfortably sitting on my movie shelf with many of my other favorites; this is one worth owning, especially if you have small kids.