“Enchanted” does something that is rare in movies (or any art-form, really): it manages to simultaneously make fun of and pay homage to its inspiration, which, in this case, are the classic animated Disney musicals like “Sleeping Beauty” and “Cinderella.”
The filmmakers’ great affection for those Disney films of yore shines through “Enchanted,” but the film isn’t above making fun of itself, or its chosen genre. In fact, “Enchanted” works best when it walks that fine line between sincerity and spoof.
The film begins in an animated world called Andalasia, where Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) lives in a woodland home, surrounded by her animals friends – including a resourceful squirrel with a New York accent named Pip – waiting for the day when her prince will come and bless her with true love’s kiss.
And, as luck would have it, her prince, whose name is Edward (James Marsden), arrives posthaste and saves her from a dumb but destructive troll.
Giselle and Edward seem destined for one another, even finishing each other’s lines in a duet.
But Edward’s evil stepmother Narissa (Susan Sarandon) doesn’t want to see her throne overtaken by Giselle, so she tricks the trusting princess into making a wish before a well. Except it isn’t a wishing well; it’s a portal that leads to modern-day (and non-animated) New York City.
While wandering the streets, searching for a castle that will board her for the night, Giselle encounters Robert Phillip (Patrick Dempsey), a divorce lawyer who reluctantly puts her up for the night.
Will Giselle and Robert fall in love? Will Giselle escape the murderous clutches of Queen Narissa? Will the film end happily ever after? Um, yes, yes and yes. To call “Enchanted” predictable is both obvious and obtuse; this is a comedic family film, a “Kate and Leopold” for the Disney crowd.
The heart and soul of “Enchanted” belongs to Amy Adams. Her performance as Giselle is remarkable in that it manages to capture the cadence and body language of the classic Disney princesses; the timid gait when encountering something new or strange, the wide-eyed joy of simple pleasures and the euphonious voice that seems perpetually excited or impressed.
And Adams’ performance works because she plays it straight. There is nothing disingenuous about Giselle and it is her na’veté and willful optimism that provides much of the film’s humor. (I especially liked the scene where Robert asks Giselle if she is familiar with the concept of anger and she replies, “I’ve heard of it .”)
“Enchanted” gets a little too sweet and cutesy at its end, but Adams has a charm about her that makes the film hard to resist.
Jeff Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.