Written by: Bill Kelly
Starring: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel
Fairy tales mostly take place in hands in faraway lands because their strangeness typically does not compute with normal ways of living. A world where Cinderella receives help from her mice friends to make a dress when we try to exterminate them on-sight does not make for the best combination. Luckily, the world received the wonderful work of Enchanted with how it combines these two vastly different worlds and all of the comedy it employs.
Set to marry the prince of her dreams in the animated kingdom of Andalasia, Gisele (Amy Adams) gets tricked down into a well where she arrives in the live-action world of New York City. With this clash of environment, she meets a father and his daughter who take her in and teach her the ways of this world while Prince Edward (James Marsden) also arrives in the city to find his betrothed.
For a company that made their claim to fame in the world of princesses where they essentially took existing stories and made it their own, seeing Disney make something like Enchanted surprises me. This film serves not only as some light fun, but also mocking the very stories that have tethered hoards of nostalgia to their brand. While it does not cut too deeply on the ideals and how they can be problematic, because Disney would never go that far, the light ribbing it does makes for so many fun sequences.
Gisele’s entrance into New York provides the fish-out-of-water type of story that always brings good comedy, but having a princess do it adds a different level. The princess Giselle represents has nothing but relentless optimism on her side where she hopes to find her true love and will sing her heart out. Having her land in New York City, where a layer of toughness needs to be constructed in order to make it mentally and emotionally creates for such a wonderful clash. Nothing encapsulates it more than when Giselle initially interacts with Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and Morgan (Rachel Covey). Giselle mentions how rude people were to her to which Robert replies “Welcome to New York.” The tone and phrase would make anyone with a grasp of sarcasm realize Robert does not mean this in an affectionate matter, which makes it funny when Giselle thanks him, as if the man genuinely welcomed her to the city. Sarcasm obviously does not compute with the way Giselle thinks because this level of comedy does not exist in her world. Enchanted comes jam-packed with several instances of Giselle misunderstanding this real world but the jokes never get stale due solely to Amy Adams.
The actor who can succeed with any type of role, her work as Giselle ranks as one of her best in the full commitment she brings in portraying the unending optimistic and chipper spirit of Giselle. This could have easily felt way too over the top in less capable hands, but Adams chews it up and adds the necessary vibrancy to this story. She makes this character almost float through this story with how she brings a level of brightness in her demeanor. From the musical sequences to moments of monumental exuberance, Adams nails everything in this role perfectly.
The character of Giselle almost lands as an antidote of positive energy, especially for Robert. Working as a divorce attorney, he has plenty of cynicism about how love works and the way Giselle consistently believes Prince Edward will come and get her causes friction between them. Blending the cynicism with the optimistic mindset takes a dig at the relationships established in these Disney princess stories. Giselle and Edward agreed to marry each other after spending a minuscule amount of time together, which anyone in the real world would realize does not create the best foundation for a long-term relationship. Robert knows this more than anyone else and has no problem voicing his opinion to Giselle throughout their different conversations. These fairy tales typically end with the idea the couple will live happily ever after but watching those stories begs the question of what things would look like between these couples if we got a look at their status 2 years into their marriage. Most likely, one of them would be contacting Robert to find a way to get out of a relationship with so little binding the characters.
In a way, Enchanted mocks the ideals of these Disney fairytale stories while creating one following the same beats right alongside of it. Not very clever as a whole but it can be excused because of the ball of positive energy this story represents. Beautiful vibrancy and a jolly old time, this film perfectly clashes the fairytale world with the real one creating excellent comedic moments and a story that can melt even the most cynical person’s heart.