Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 3/23/08 w/ Additional Edits.
Directed by Kevin Lima and written by Bill Kelly with narration by Julie Andrews, Enchanted tells the story of a princess-to-be from a 2-D animated world who is suddenly thrown into a magical portal by a witch. Suddenly, the girl enters the real-life, live-action world of New York City as she meets a single father whom she befriends while her dim-witted prince decides to enter New York City to save her. The film is a genre-bender that is part family-film, part-fantasy, part-2D animation, part-comedy, and part-musical that is in the tradition of the Walt Disney films of the past that features the award-winning team of composer Stephen Schwartz and lyricist Alan Menken who wrote several classic tunes for Disney films like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Starring Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel, Rachel Covey, and Susan Sarandon. Enchanted is a delightful, charming, and magical film from the Walt Disney company.
In the world of Andalasia, a princess-to-be named Giselle (Amy Adams) is waiting for the day for her true love to come. Meanwhile, the young yet dim-witted Prince Edward (James Marsden) is battling a troll with the help of Nathaniel, the longtime minion to Edward's stepmother Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon). Edward saves Giselle from a troll and the two are destined to become wedded and Giselle, a princess. Narissa however, has plans on her own as she disguises herself as an old witch who pushes Giselle into a waterfall fountain where she finds herself in the harsh, cruel world of real-life New York City. Lost and confused, Giselle finds a castle billboard as she attracts the attention of a divorce lawyer named Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and his six-year old daughter Morgan (Rachel Covey).
Robert is confused by Giselle's whimsical, joyful behavior until she sleeps in his couch. The next morning, Giselle wakes up to clean Robert's home to his own shock with the help of pigeons, flies, and rats as he is bewildered by Giselle's behavior. Especially in front of his fiancee Nancy (Idina Menzel). Meanwhile, Edward learns that Giselle is in another world as with the help of Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) and a chipmunk named Pip, they enter New York City. Yet, Edward's chivalry is unaware that Nathaniel is sent to poison Giselle for Narissa. Robert however, is still confused by Giselle's unique personality as she sings all over the place while trying to tell her about the real world and such. With Edward still searching for Giselle, he becomes amazed by what the real world has to offer while Nathaniel begins to question his own role after his attempts to poison Giselle had failed repeatedly.
When Edward learns of Giselle's whereabouts, he continues his quest while Giselle suddenly starts to fall for Robert despite his no-nonsense, cynical view on the world, love, and such. Edward finally arrives as Giselle is with her prince but becomes confused of whether she wants to be Edward or Robert. Upset over the union of Giselle and Edward, Narissa decides to take matters into her own hands as she arrives to New York City in style. With Nathaniel forced to help her out, she decides to pull another old trick on Giselle as her own feelings for who her true love is becoming more confusing. Yet, when Narissa finally revealing herself, she decides to create her own ending only to realize, this isn't some ordinary fairytale.
While the fairytale films of Disney from years past can be considered fluff and passe in comparison to the harsh realities of the world. It should be noted that the real-world sometimes needed to be slapped with a dose of happiness. Here is a film where those great Disney films of the past are given a chance to look themselves in the mirror and make fun of themselves at the same time. Yet, what this film is really about is a princess-to-be who has always known a world that's been sheltered in all of her life. Yet, when she comes into this other world that is much harsher, colder, and very cynical. She tries to deal with it the best she could through song, cheerfulness, and curiosity. The result is that she brings a new kind of hope to a man filled with cynicism and no-nonsense to believe that it's okay to bring a bit of fantasy into the real world.
Credit must go to screenwriter Bill Kelly and director Kevin Lima for creating a charming, whimsical film that mixes a lot of genres. Kelly's screenplay is excellent for its structure, twists, character development, and most of all, references to other classic fairytales. Lima's direction is superb from the use of animation with its peppy, delightful 2-D, hand-drawn animation style to its colorful, live-action sequences. Lima's work in some of the film's dance and musical numbers is truly magical from the use of wide lenses to capture the scope of the dance numbers. The result is truly a film that lives up to Disney's magical reputation.
Cinematographer Don Burgess creates a colorful look with the film's daytime exteriors shot on location in New York City while the nighttime, interior shots are wonderfully intimate with low lighting set-ups to create an atmosphere that is true to the tone of the film. Editors Stephen A. Rotter & Gregory Perler do an excellent job with the film's pacing and rhythm for the film's musical sequences as scenes that match up with one scene to another. Production designer Stuart Wurtzel with art director John Kasarda do an amazing job in creating the film's sunny, colorful look on location in New York City as well as the ball scene. Costume designer Mona May does a superb job with the filmls costumes that included the huge gown that Giselle wears on her arrival to the city, her curtain-made dress, the sunny dress, and gown as well as the princely clothes that Edward wears along with Queen Narissa's gown that is true to her villainy.
Makeup artist Bill Corso does a great job with look of Susan Sarandon's Queen Narissa look as the old hag that makes Sarandon look unrecognizable. Animation supervisor James Baxter and his team do a superb job with the 2-D hand-drawn animation that is true to the look and style of Disney films of the past. Visual effects supervisors Brennan Doyle and Thomas Schelesny do a great job with the visual effects design of the character of Pip in NYC as well as other visual effects for the film's climatic third act. Sound editor Dennis Leonard does a great job with the film's sound to capture some of the film's moments of fantasy and adventure.
The music of Stephen Schwartz and lyricist Alan Menken is top-notch that includes a sweeping, dazzling score that plays to the film's whimsical tone. Yet, it's the original songs that Schwartz and Menken that really shine. From the sweeping True Love's Kiss performed by Amy Adams and James Marsden, the comically divine Happy Working Song and calypso-flavored That's How You Know both sung by Adams, the ballad So Close sung by Jon McLaughlin, and the country-pop song Ever, Ever After by Carrie Underwood. The soundtrack is truly a standout and definitely a joy to listen to thanks to the team of Schwartz and Menken who both prove they still have a magical touch.
The casting by John Papsidera, Marcia Ross, and Susan Shopmaker should be noted for its assembly of talent that includes cameo appearances from three actresses who are famous for voicing famed Disney heroines, Jodi Benson of The Little Mermaid as Robert's secretary Sam, Paige O'Hara of Beauty & the Beast as a soap opera actress Nathaniel watches, and Judy Kuhn of Pocahontas as a pregnant woman with children. Other memorable small appearances from Marilyn Sue Perry as a bus driver whom Edward annoys, Tonya Pinkins & Isaiah Whitlock, Jr. as a divorcing couple Robert is handling, and in the voices of Pip, Jeff Bennett as Pip in Andalasia and director Kevin Lima as the squeaky-voiced Pip in NYC. Broadway actress Idina Menzel is good as Robert's girlfriend Nancy who is bewildered by the appearance of Giselle while trying to commit with Robert.
Rachel Covey is adorable as Robert's six-year old daughter Morgan who is trying to find a sense of excitement from the realities that her father is trying to prepare her for. Timothy Spall is delightful as the sniveling, cowardly Nathaniel who is doing the Queen's deeds while in NYC, begins to question his own role and self-respect. James Marsden is delightfully funny as the dim-witted, narcissistic Prince Edward who always go into song while being completely clueless to everything. Marsden's smile, winning performance is fun to watch as the actor is showing his versatility from action roles like the X-Men films to the recent Hairspray musical film.
Patrick Dempsey is wonderfully low-key as the cynical Robert who proves to be a great foil for Giselle as Dempsey is also charming and intelligent in being the romantic lead as the actor continues his winning ways following his comeback role on the TV show Grey's Anatomy. Though her appearance in the film is only 20-minutes, Susan Sarandon makes the most of her appearance as Queen Narissa with a great, slimy performance as Sarandon seems to enjoy herself in playing a villain as her performance is fun to watch.
Finally, there's Amy Adams who delivers a performance that lives up to the film's title description. Fresh off from her Oscar-nominated role in 2005's Junebug, Adams carries this entire film with such wit, charm, innocence, and humor. From the way she smiles to how she reacts innocently to newfound situations, it's a performance that obviously cannot be enjoyed for someone, even the most cynical performance. Adams' versatility also proves that she can sing very well as she just shines from scene to scene. Adams also proves that she is capable in being dramatic while having great chemistry with Patrick Dempsey and Rachel Covey in their own individual scenes as she brings a lively character with such charisma and bravado, it's hard to not to smile in everything she does. After toiling in obscurity in small roles like Drop Dead Gorgeous, Psycho Beach Party, and Catch Me If You Can, Amy Adams gives a performance that is surely going to make her a household name.
Enchanted is a delightful, entertaining, and joyful film that lives up to its name and description thanks to the talents of director Kevin Lima, screenwriter Bill Kelly, songwriters Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken, and Amy Adams' dazzling performance. Fans of Disney films will no doubt enjoy the film for its humor and homage to the genre while families will enjoy it for its squeaky-clean yet charming tone. In the end, for a film that is a real feel-good film that does its job to entertain and make everyone feel smile, Enchanted is the film to go see.
© thevoid99 2013