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In the animated fairytale world of Andalasia, soon-to-be Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) is destined to marry Prince Edward (James Marsden) and live happily ever after. Problem is, Edward's evil stepmother Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) doesn't want to give up the throne and will do anything to get Giselle out of Edward's life. Queen Narissa's tricks Giselle and shoves her into a wishing well that transports her to Times Square in New York City. Giselle finds herself alone and confused in the rain, and is rescued by non-believer Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and his princess-loving daughter Morgan (Rachel Covey). Meanwhile, Price Edward is close behind looking for his lost bride to be.

Enchanted
Enchanted was not a movie I particularly wanted to like. The concept of poking fun at Disney fairytales is pretty tired after three not very good Shrek movies and their various low budget knock offs, not to mention Fractured Fairytales and various popular and subversive kid’s books. I’m not admitting to my heart melting or growing six sizes bigger, but I was more or less captivated by this exceedingly sweet and silly movie.

I really thought I’d hate Amy Adam’s Best Actress nomination (edit: Jesus Christ I fumbled my facts on this one, that should read Golden Globe nomination.), but she’s really quite great. She embodies a Disney princess without simply impersonating one, which is a lot harder then it looks, and she has an arc. James Marsden (an actor I like very much, by the way) doesn’t fair quite as well, but yanks a couple giggles no the less. Broad comedy is only as good as its straight man, and Patrick Dempsey had years of practice when he starred on television’s Northern Exposure (Edit: Nope, that was Rob Morrow. I just now found this out. They're like twins!). His reactions to the total absurdity of Giselle and Edward’s cartoon wackiness sells the jokes better then the jokes would’ve been sold on their own. Though the entire plot is, of course, ludicrous, Robert’s narrative choices are actually pretty understandable, and even a little bit realistic.

Enchanted
The real subversive stuff comes a little bit too late, when Giselle starts to accept the real world at the worst possible moment. There’s a great scene where she experiences her first ever bout of anger, and is thrilled by the sensation. The writers could’ve easily made Enchanted another movie about another straight laced grinch finding love and joy, but instead the grinch and the sap sort of meet emotionally half way. Though I suppose I’d categorize the film as a children’s movie overall, Enchanted plays it just mature enough to strike a nice kid/adult balance. Adams and Dempsey anchor the film in a tangible enough emotional place that I can picture plenty of grown-ups leaving the theatre a bit weepy.

All is not perfect in the land of Andalasia, however. Sometimes the spoof is too obvious and broad for its own good, grating against the genuine substance of Adams and Dempsey. The climax is fun, especially for its gender twist and Disney greatest hits package, but feels rushed and doesn’t strike the same melodious chords as the rest of the film. Susan Sarandon’s wicked witch character is merely an after thought to Michele Pfeiffer’s more meaty take on the character in last year’s truly magic adult fairy tale, Matthew Vaughn’s Stardust. The villain’s turn is left to a secondary character in this case, and Sarandon’s fall is simply a moment of spectacle (and no, that isn’t a spoiler, we all know how it was going to end).

Enchanted

Video


I tried to score a Blu-ray copy of Enchanted, but this DVD version isn’t a pushover. The animated section of the film is quite crisp and colourful, with minimal compression damage, and framed at 1.85:1 so that the sides can widen to 2.35:1 when Giselle enters the real world. The real world doesn’t fair quite as flawlessly as the animated world. Minor blemishes and edge artefacts are noticeable throughout, and some flesh tones swim with minor noise. Overall colours are gob-smackingly bright and full, especially the cool greens of Queen Narissa’s magic. The transfer’s clarity actually hurts some of the less convincing computer animation, which doesn’t quite blend into the real life sets and set pieces.

Audio


Nominating three songs from Enchanted for best original song was a massive faux pas for the Academy this year, especially when Eddie Vedder earned it. The actual songs are half good. Two are entertaining subversions, and one acts as a good introduction to the cartoon universe, but the two poppier tunes towards the end of the film (when reality and cartoonishness fully merge) are dreadful, early ‘90s easy listening trash.

Enchanted
The clean and strong DTS surround track devotes the majority of its attention to the film’s old school and swollen score. The critters of the cartoon world and people and cars of the real world are both mixed effectively, and both embody their unique universes quite impressively. Whether it be giant ogres or cramped city buses, creatures moving from front to back or side to side are effectively represented in space and movement. The dialogue is clear without inconstancies or hiss, and the bass levels are healthy, but not so heavy that they’ll scare the kids.

Extras


Under the ‘Fantasy Comes to Life’ heading are three featurettes covering the production behind the three big live-action song and dance numbers. The first, running six and a half minutes, covers the ‘Working Song’, a digital creature fest number. This briefly covers the song writing, the on set filming (including animal training), pre-vis, and the physical and digital effects. The second featurette pertains to ‘That’s How You Know’, a more traditional, big musical production. This number requires a whole lot of choreography and the number of people involved is sort of mind boggling. The whole scene is a rather magical throw back to Hollywood’s Golden Era, and the featurette runs about six minutes. The final featurette concerns the final sequence, which is a sizable amalgamation of several Disney classics. This section places more focus on the art department and technical stuff, and it runs 5:30. Directors, actors, producers, technicians, editors and artists are all interviewed for all three featurettes, though not in any particular depth.

Enchanted
Enchanted does have some iffy cuts throughout, leading one to assume there were quite a few deleted scenes. Here there are less then I assumed there would be; only six, each with an introduction by director Kevin Lima. These start with an alternate animated opening (presented in storyboards), which runs too long and doesn’t put enough instant focus on Giselle. Next is an alternate introduction to Dempsey’s character, which is a very minimal change. Then we get a brief glimpse into Dempsey’s girlfriend in the film, which sets up her character’s ending, which is followed by another unnecessary scene that sets up Giselle’s ending. The rest of the scenes are just snippets of action from the finale. In all the scenes and intros run just over seven minutes.

‘Pip’s Predicament’ is an animated pop-up book adventure staring Giselle’s chipmunk friend. The whole pop-up thing is kind of an excuse for less then spectacular computer animation, but I’m sure the little ones will still enjoy this fluffy, six minute little ‘toon. Carrie Underwood’s ‘Ever Ever After’ (a truly grating song) is given the Disney treatment in the form of a partially animated music video that sort of replays the ideas of the film with different actors. The bloopers are amusing enough, the promo for the Blu-ray release is a cruel tease, and the trailers are almost all for not very interesting looking features and specials.

Enchanted

Overall


Simply stated, Enchanted is, *choke*, enchanting. The original songs are hit and miss, but the hits are dead centre and the misses are excusable. The story is kid friendly without placating, and I’m positive adults will enjoy themselves almost as much. The clincher is Amy Adams’ affecting performance, which is so good I fear she’ll find herself typecast for the rest of her life. The DVD looks good, sounds great, and the extras are half-decent.


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