Enchanted

Last evening I saw a romantic comedy that was sweet, funny, clean, clever and innocent.  I listened to charming songs and saw dazzling dances, state-of-the-art special effects, and poufy princess dresses.  And I laughed and sighed and smiled.

I am Enchanted.

Giselle is a beautiful auburn-haired cartoon princess who has just met the love of her life: Prince Edward, heir to the Andalasian throne. But Edward’s stepmother, Queen Narissa, is hardly willing to give up the throne. Instead, she plunges the unsuspecting bride to her doom in “a place where there are no happily-ever-afters”. And that place is, of course, New York City.

Narrated by Julie Andrews and featuring Amy Adams as the innocent princess Giselle (opposite James Marsden, Susan Sarandon, Timothy Spall and Patrick Dempsey), the Oscar-nominated flick Enchanted is equal parts caricature of and honor to the formulaic but good-hearted Disney princess stories. The filmmakers describe the film as a “giant love letter to Disney classics”. Nevertheless, a few winks here and there give the film a smart, comedic presence, livening up the strawberry-shortcake sweetness.

Newcomer Adams shines in her Golden Globe Award-nominated performance as the naïve but ever-optimistic princess, whose starry-eyed romanticism contrasts to the love-lost heartache of a divorce lawyer named Robert (Dempsey) whom she meets in the city. Robert is a moral, good-hearted man whose bitterness towards love started when his ex-wife left him and his six-year-old daughter Morgan. He begrudgingly allows the lost damsel to stay with his family, and soon finds himself charmed by her perpetually sunny outlook and generous charity towards others.

But as magical figures begin to pop up like daisies in the Big Apple, including gallant Prince Edward (Marsden), a feisty chipmunk named Pip, evil henchman Nathaniel (Spall), and even the Queen (Sarandon) herself, Giselle begins to win the hearts of all she meets (as any good princess ought to). Despite Robert’s criticism, she never looses faith that her prince will come for her. But by the time he does, Giselle is beginning to wonder if a certain someone else is her real prince, after all.

The words “predictability” and “Disney” are somewhat intertwined (cough cough) and this film is no exception. But it is the good kind of predictability…the kind where you know that the good guy will win, and the bad guy (or gal) will loose in the end. Morality is rewarded, selfishness punished and true love endures forever. Still, Enchanted may well have fallen into forgettable oblivion but for picture-perfect casting and surprisingly rich insight.

There’s Giselle herself. Irrepressibly idyllic, unfailingly generous and commendably innocent, she’s a role model that parents wouldn’t mind their little girls admiring. At first we enjoy a few giggles at the sight of a naïve and ditzy princess tripping her way through New York City in a huge dress complete with enough embellishments to make Belle downright green. She even recruits New York’s “wildlife” (mostly rats and pigeons) to clean Robert’s apartment with her, Snow White-style, and also creates fantastic frocks in about thirty minutes from an obliging curtain or two, or mayhap a rug. Sure it’s silly, but sweet, too. Like when Robert gives her money for a ride “home”, and she promptly gifts the entire wad to a homeless woman. Or takes little motherless Morgan on a girl-time shopping spree. Or, best of all, when she reminds a divorcing couple (Robert’s clients) of the things that made them fall in love in the first place. When she finds they are separating she innocently bursts into tears. In the end, the couple reunites (“Everyone has bad times…do we sacrifice all the good times because of them?”).

Lessons on developing relationships with a strong foundation of understanding, the importance of working through troubles together, and the faithfulness of true love, are morals that no one but a true Scrooge could humbug. And a surprising but beautiful insight on how sad divorce truly is, and how a loving couple can work through difficulties together, rather than letting those difficulties take the best of them, bumps the film from an A to A+.

I enjoyed this sweet family movie, and your family may, too. Unfortunately, a few content issues may cause parents to wish to preview the PG-rated flick before letting their youngest children watch (some potty humor and two quick “gay” jokes are disappointing). Also, Giselle’s off-the-shoulder wedding dress and other royal frocks are immodest at times.

But if you are looking for a sugary sweet film that supports the value of family, innocence, femininity and purity of heart, than you really can’t go wrong with Disney’s Enchanted, a film that well deserves a place among Disney’s finest classics.

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