This DVD release of a quality Disney film mixes classic animation with live action comedy, music, and romance extremely well while offering standard bloopers, deleted scenes, "making of" featurettes and an extra animal adventure. Prince Edward, played by James Marsden (X-Men, Superman Returns), chases after Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) when they find themselves between worlds.
Adams (Junebug, Talladega Nights) finally gets the high profile role she deserves while Marsden gets to showcase his singing voice and physical stamina. Susan Sarandon plays the Queen who plots behind the scenes as she covets the throne and attacks her perceived threat – the innocent Giselle. Timothy Spall (Harry Potter) plays Nathaniel, another character from the animated homeland. Robert, a divorce lawyer, played by Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy television series), and his daughter Morgan help Giselle through the entertaining culture shock in the real world Manhattan settings.
Filmmakers somehow keep each element fresh and don't really overuse any cliché, situation or formula. They expertly mix several filmmaking techniques with a rhythmic plot for one hour and 47 minutes. Screenwriters also address the cynical views in the characters and references while producing several original moments amid the remediated material. Philip has a touching breakthrough scene with Giselle when he negates her seemingly delusional wishes of happiness so she doesn't get hurt.
Alan Menken and Steven Schwartz again team up for great songs that weave into the live animal special effects, camera magic, and CGI blending. Three Best Song Oscar nominations weren't enough to win while other high quality film elements, like cinematography from Don Burgess, deserved nominations. Even expert Barry Sonnefeld (Men in Black) gets in on the act as co-executive producer. All the filmmakers do a great job of incorporating classic Disney film moments that viewers will discover each time they watch this wonderful film.
Director Kevin Lima (who also voices the cute animal named Pip, a conglomerate of lovable Disney creatures with functions of sidekick and conscience) provides a lot of insight in the home video special features, especially the nice introductions before each deleted scene. He sets the tone in the beginning animation, which is authentic enough so audiences don't initially treat the film like a complete spoof. He optimizes some amazing cityscape settings while breezing through a story light on detail and heavy on escapism. Filmmakers produce some truly genuine moments by showing the action instead of having the characters describe it.
The plot does contain a few missteps like a predictable "romantic consolation prize" subplot and a shopping spree/forced girl bonding moment that echoes Pretty Woman. Filmmakers could've increased their use of Broadway veteran Idina Menzel, who plays Nancy, and Philip's daughter, played by newcomer Rachel Covey.
Several Disney related cameos and Julie Andrew's narration provide the frosting on this appealing cake. Just try not to enjoy yourself. This well-crafted tale comes highly recommended and rated PG for some scary images and mild innuendo. The home video extras aren't too deep but enough to satisfy curiosity and interests in the high profile scene like the "Happy Working Song" sequence.