Princess Giselle gets some culture shock as Queen Narissa gives her the boot from her wonderful animated homeland in Enchanted. This quality Disney film mixes classic animation with live action comedy, music, and romance. James Marsden (X-Men, Superman Returns) plays Prince Edward who chases after Giselle, well played by Amy Adams. The high energy and joy Adams and Mardsen put into their performances seeps through their characters. 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), and his daughter Morgan help Giselle through the entertaining culture shock in the real world Manhattan settings .
Filmmakers somehow keep the shock 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.
Director Kevin Lima 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. Lima also produces 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 contained echoes of 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. Alan Menken and Steven Schwartz again team up for great songs that weave into the live animal special effects, camera magic, and graphic blending.
Look for some Oscar nominations in these categories and others, like cinematography (Don Burgess). Even effects expert Barry Sonnefeld (Men in Black) gets in on the act as co-executive producer. 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. A sequel could be possible (e.g. if there’s a queen, then where’s the king?), but filmmakers may not want to disturb this future classic.