Enchanted comes to DVD this Tuesday, and with it Amy Adam's Golden Globe-nominated performance as a cartoon character-turned-real-life-woman. Perhaps one of Disney's most interesting movies in years, the film capitalizes on nearly a century of cartoons while remaining just edgy enough to be its own force. Ultimately, Enchanted is an entertaining, unique and enjoyable movie, though it does have a few flaws.
The movie is about an almost-princess named Giselle (Adams) who lives in an animated fairy tale land of talking animals and unquestionable love. Giselle is still looking for her prince, until one day when dashing Prince Edward (James Marsden) shows up riding his stallion. Just when it looks like everything is going to end happily ever after, Prince Edward's wicked witch of a mother (Susan Sarandon) banishes Giselle to another world - modern day, live-action New York City. There, Giselle stumbles upon Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a single father who has lost sight of love. While Robert at first finds Giselle extremely obnoxious (after all, animals tend to follow her around everywhere), his fondness for her begins to grow, and Giselle begins to question whether Robert actually is the man of her dreams.
Enchanted is what more romantic comedies should be like: unique. Ultimately, the film is a romantic comedy that has a big, fancy ballroom dance, some major obstacles to the relationship and a happy ending, but throw in a little animation, some smart references to classic cartoons and an evil witch, and we have ourselves a genre beast. Enchanted isn't as smart and edgy as I was hoping for; I thought it would crack a few more jokes at Disney's expense and play off so many decades of material just a little better, but, for what it's worth, it still has enough to keep you chuckling.
The music also works in the movie's favor. If you were one of the countless people who watched the Oscars having never watched Enchanted, you were probably like me, wondering how in Heck did Enchanted get nominated for three original songs? The first song, performed on stage by Amy Adams, was just painful, and seemed completely out of place for the prestigious ceremony (almost as much so as the Oscar-winning song, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"). The other two were better, but still were odd. That being said, I recognized that within the confines of a Disney movie they were probably quite good, and, having now watched the film, I can say that I was right (of course). Enchanted pulls off the musical bits very good; the song with the Jamaican drummers is especially catchy and entertaining (and having Dempsey ask the band, "You know this song, too?" is priceless).
The real star of the show, however, is Amy Adams. She is pitch perfect for the movie; not only is she hot in her own cute, beautiful way, but she gives this performance her all, and her energy permeates into every corner of the movie. Her constant "chipperness" works wonders, and she and Dempsey have good chemistry together. It may not be the kind of performance that earns you an Oscar nomination, but Adams certainly delivers one of the finest female performances of 2007. Timothy Spall, Susan Sarandon and especially James Marsden are also quite good in supporting roles
My only real issue with the movie are the special effects at the end. For the most part, director Kevin Lima and his crew keep the visuals for the film right on key. The little CGI chipmunk is pretty good, the animated sequences are excellent (I hate to say it, but Adams' cartoon iteration is also quite hot) and the other special effect sequences are relatively seamless... except for the final twenty minutes. When Sarandon's character turns into a CGI dragon, the dragon looks incredible goofy and not even close to real; Lima really missed the mark here. After all, the movie is actually about an animated world and the real world; when the dragon appears in the real world, shouldn't it look real? At the very least, shouldn't the special effects team attempt to make it look real? The dragon really blew the ending for me.
Overall, Enchanted is an enjoyable, sweet and charming movie. Kids, especially little girls, should enjoy it, but this is certainly a family film that is really made for adults. There is nothing in the movie that would be "offensive" to children, but Enchanted is a witty romantic comedy in disguise. Who knew Disney had this in them?
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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