Enchanted

EnchantedWalt Disney Pictures has given us a most enchanting film in this entertaining blend of animation, CGI, and live action. Released in 2007, Enchanted was written by Bill Kelly and directed by Kevin Lima with an eye toward both parody and reverence toward the Disney classic animated movies.  It contains wonderful songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz and sparkles with good humor.

It begins with animation in the make-believe world of Andalasia, where only good things happen. Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) lives alone in the forest communing with her little animal friends and pining for some hero to come sweep her off her feet. She has been constructing a mannequin to represent her true love, but can’t find lips.  Stepping to her window, she sings a little refrain that calls all the forest animals to help.  As she sings “True Love’s Kiss,” bunnies, fawns, birds, and other forest animals sing along with her.  Elsewhere in the forest, Prince Edward (James Marsden) also sings the song while looking for the love of his life and hunting trolls. He rescues Giselle from a troll, they fall in love and decide to get married the next day.

However, his wicked stepmother, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) has other plans. If Edward gets married, it means she’ll have to give up the throne.  When Giselle shows up at the castle the next day, Narissa turns herself into an old hag and pushes Giselle into a deep well.  After plunging through water, she emerges in the sewers of Manhattan as a real live person, which is the first time we actually get to see Amy Adams.  As she wanders around New York City trying to get help, she her tiara stolen and gets drenched in rain.  At last she sees a casino decked out like a palace and tries to climb up to get in the door.  Along comes Robert (Patrick Dempsey), an attorney, with daughter Morgan (Rachel Covey) and the rescue the Princess and bring her back to their apartment.

Back in Andalasia, Giselle’s chipmunk friend, Pip alerts Prince Edward that his love has disappeared down the magic well, so he and Pip jump in to follow her and also end up as real beings in New York searching for the lost girl. Narissa sends her incompetent assistant Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) after them in an attempt to ensure that Giselle does not get rescued.  In the midst of this, as Robert and Morgan are falling in love with Giselle, Robert’s girlfriend Nancy (Idina Menzel) is fighting to keep him.

Seeing the state of Robert’s apartment, Giselle opens the window and sings her little refrain to call the forest animals, but she’s in New York, so she gets pigeons, rats and cockroaches who all dance and scrub happily away as she sings “Happy Working Song.” The combination here of live action and CGI mesh so well that one’s attention is strictly on the action and the song and it is SO SO funny!  Later, walking in Central Park with Robert, she sings a big production number, “That’s How You Know” that has a HUGE ensemble of dancers and moves seamlessly through the park.  It’s almost impossible not to walk away singing the song.

There is one other great song, but it is not sung by characters. At the end, Carrie Underwood sings behind live and animated action the song “Ever Ever After” that concludes the movie.

This is a truly creative, entertaining film, probably one of the best Disney films I’ve ever seen. The songs, sets, locations, costumes, photography, and animation are all first rate.  Amy Adams is really, really funny and her naïve naiveté is part of what makes the film succeed.  Anything less than real belief in Princess Giselle’s goodness and purity would have failed.  Susan Sarandon is wonderful as the arch villainess and all of the other actors do an excellent job.

A great movie for kids or adults!

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