Enchanted

“Enchanted” (2007) movie posterAw, heck, yes, it was enchanting.

You’ll know the story from the trailer, probably, but the gist is that Disney™ princess, Giselle, is banished from the magical animated land far away to real-world New York by the prince’s evil stepmother. She meets a cynical single-father divorce lawyer in New York and culture-clash-romantic-comedy ensues.

Bit of an odd film for me, actually. I was smiling at the end, and inexplicably happy for the next hour or so, but bits did annoy me while I was watching it.

Giselle and Prince Edward are quite… thick… when they arrive in the real world; borderline mentally subnormal thick. And the opening animated bit uneven—it doesn’t know how seriously to take itself.

In fact, the whole thing is uneven. There are some brilliant moments of comedy, and some lovely juxtapositions of the Disney and the Real, but there are also some horribly clunky lines, and some of the attempts at satire are plain lazy.

I wasn’t impressed by Susan Sarandon as the wicked witch I’m afraid. She was playing it too big to be sinister, but not big enough to be truly, impressively off-the-wall eeevil. (I’d have had her rising slowly from the magical-drain-cover-portal-to-another-world, with scary violins, and dramatic lighting, rather than have her shoot her load too early with lightening bolts and flailing arms, like Emperor Palpatine having a fit.)

Her lines at the end, once she’s transformed into the (oddly, flightless) dragon, were awful. Really, really awful. Was it the writing or the acting? Bit of both, I think.

Some of the bits with the prince were misjudged. Disney heros don’t tend to attack everything they don’t understand with a sword; that’s the role of the buffoonish henchman/villain. (Though the line, “Nobody stabs my bus.” is quite good.)

And some of the nods to the classic animated fairy tales were too literal for my taste. The witch looked too exactly like Snow White’s stepmother. The magic mirror and the poisoned apple—were too much. I think I’d have preferred if they’d found an unused old Grimm, and worked out the animated fairy-tale characters on their own terms. Or else just made them be actually the characters from Snow White, rather than Another Cartoon Which Is Very Much Like It. It’s not as if Disney have to worry about the copyright. And made them a bit smarter. Naïve, sure, optimistic, yes, but also a bit less like clunky stereotypes of Disney characters. The old Disney movies were innocent, but the characters were rarely imbeciles.

Er, anyway, animated chipmunk: brilliant. It (he) had superb physical comedy timing.

The little girl managed to walk the fine line of being cute and older than her years, without coming across saccharine or know-it-all.

The relationship between Robert the lawyer and Giselle evolved nicely.

Why am I complaining? The opening of the film didn’t convince me. Some lazy gags and piss-poor writing jarred me out of the story from time to time, though I must admit that by the end it had won me over.

It is, for its flaws, a sweet film. It’s Disney, and they’re amoral, moneymaking film-purveyors who will shamelessly pluck the heart-strings to make a quick buck or 50 million, but I fall for having my heart-strings plucked. I like the happy ever after bit. I love the comedy CG chipmunks. True love for the cynical single New Yorker (with his gap-toothed, cute-as-a-button daughter), and a fairy-tale princess? Yeaaaah… alright then.

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