ENCHANTED (2022) l Disney | November 21, 2007
Starring: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel, Rachel Covey, Susan Sarandon
Director: Kevin Lima
A young maiden in a land called Andalasia, who is prepared to be wed, is sent away to New York City by an evil Queen, where she falls in love with a lawyer.
REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Enchanted brings the magic of an animated Disney Princess film to the real world, creating the magical Disney movie experience you love in a way you’ve never seen before with an outstanding lead performance from Amy Adams and wonderful music from Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.
Ever since its release, I have adored Enchanted and believed it to be one of the most underrated Disney films of all time. It captures the heart of every animated Disney Princess movie audiences grew up with, but it is in live action and is set in a magical place called New York City! The film follows Giselle, an animated woman who is about to marry the prince of her dreams, who is pushed into a magical well by the prince’s evil stepmother and finds herself transported to New York City. Lost in a new world, Giselle befriends Robert, a widowed New Yorker, who tries to help Giselle return to Andalasia, while Prince Edward searches for Giselle despite his stepmother’s attempt to keep him from finding his bride.
It’s full of songs, a loveable sidekick animal character, magic spells, danger, excitement, and happily ever afters, making it pure Disney magic from start to finish. But the film incorporates a romantic comedy story to it as Giselle begins to question the fairy tale romance she believes she wants, which works perfectly with the real world setting, providing a different perspective for the classic Disney Princess story to play out in. The result is a truly unique Disney experience unlike any other Disney Princess film you have ever seen before.
Artistically, a lot of work goes into creating the two worlds within the film. Andalasia comes to life with gorgeous and colourful hand drawn animation, a hallmark of Disney Animation. But, it is the way that the cartoon world is translated to the real world that captures the audience's imagination. Mainly, this is seen through the excellent costume design. It captures the grand scale of the medieval set animated world with gorgeous dresses for Giselle, royal attire for Edward, and Narcissa’s wickedly stunning outfit when she arrives in New York City. The costume design team translates these designs for Giselle perfectly to create the same types of costumes she would have worn in Andalasia but using materials found in our world, showing a true labour of love to bring this larger than life character out of the animated world and into our world.
Amy Adams stars as Giselle, and there is no one better to play a real life Disney Princess than Adams. Her character is an animated princess placed in the real world, and Adams is absolutely delightful in the role. She perfectly captures Giselle’s naivety towards the human world, but also her never ending optimism and search for love in everything she sees. Adams makes the film because no other actress would be as completely dedicated to being a real life animated Disney Princess, while slowly deconstructing the fairytale facade to find the real woman with Giselle. There is no denying that without Adams’s fabulous performance that brings life and pure delight to every scene of the film, this story would not work.
James Marsden gives the same amount of dedication as Adams in the role of Prince Edward, and he is great in the role. He plays such a goofy character, but he does it with the biggest grin and it’s impossible not to enjoy watching him in this role. Patrick Dempsey is Giselle’s other romantic interest Robert, and he is such a great contrast to Adams. He is very disenchanted to say the least when it comes to love and showing his affections, only seeing the negatives to life and Dempsey plays it so well. He and Adams have electrifying chemistry, it’s so natural and the way their relationship plays out is perfect for the story. It’s not the true love at first sight you would expect from a fairytale, but a more realistic love that blossoms over shared experiences and growth together.
Then there is Susan Sarandon as the evil Queen Narissa. Sarandon is just superb, she chews up her line as the villain wanting nothing more than to rid the world of Giselle so she can keep her crown. I love Sarandon in the role, she makes such a great villain, and her dry humour is just perfect for making a villain unlike most you have ever seen in a Disney film. Plus, she gets to go full dragon at the end so it’s already a thousand times better than either Maleficent film because the villain actually turns into a dragon… just saying. And how could I forget Idina Menzel as Nancy. Menzel is delightful in the role, but it’s just a shame she doesn’t get to sing because having Menzel in a musical without a song is a crime. Fingers crossed that it is fixed with Disenchanted this weekend.
What makes Enchanted so much fun to watch as a die hard Disney fan is all the nods to classic Disney films. The majority of the plot elements are pulled from past Disney Princess films, such as the poison apples, true love’s kiss breaking a curse, animals cleaning the house, the ballroom dance, the dragon fight at the film’s climax, and Giselle’s lost slipper. It’s a great homage to Disney’s entire legacy, and it comes as no surprise this film’s release coincided with the 70th anniversary of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the film that started the Disney legacy that Enchanted pays tribute to. But the nods don’t end there as there are a bunch of small appearances and cameos from the voices of more recent Disney Princesses, such as Jodi Benson who was the voice of Ariel who portrays Dempsey’s assistant. Benson is the most prominent, but Paige O’Hara (the voice of Belle) and Judy Kuhn (the voice of Pocahontas) also make cameo appearances. And then of course you have the legendary Julie Andrews narrating the film, rounding out the Disney star cameos.
As this is a Disney Princess film, music plays an important part, and Disney legend Alan Menken adds more songs to his memorable Disney catalog. Reuniting with Stephen Schwartz, who he previously worked on The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pocahontas with, they provide some excellent songs and Menken’s score as always is perfect for a Disney film. “True Love’s Kiss” is the perfect song for the fairytale world of Andalasia, bursting with love and creates a wonderful animated sequence, though it is the weakest of the songs. “Happy Working Song” is great fun with smart lyrics, but it is the scene itself that is the best part of this musical number. Snow White had woodland creatures help when she cleaned, Cinderella had her mice, and Giselle has all the rats, pigeons, bugs and vermin of New York City to help her clean. The scene is hilarious as you watch Adams dancing around the apartment cleaning with the help of the vermin of New York, and the tune is so cheery, eliciting the same feeling as “Whistle While You Work” while turning a Disney classic on its head.
Adams' show-stopping number is “That’s How You Know”, an elaborate number set in Central Park, and is a blast from start to finish. The song is bursting with energy, combined with great choreography, costumes and props, it’s impossible not to feel the infectious love that Giselle is singing about. Carrie Underwood’s “Ever Ever After” is a great closing number, but my favourite song of the film is Jon McLaughlin’s “So Close.” It’s a beautiful ballad, McLaughlin’s vocals are great, and the scene is pure Disney magic. Reminiscent of Belle’s and Beast’s iconic dance, the song plays out as Giselle and Robert share their big moment where they realize they are in love with each other but are resisting to upend each other’s relationships, and the lyrics capture exactly that. It’s no surprise that between “So Close”, “That’s How You Know” and “Happy Working Song” that this film received three Best Original Songs at the Academy Awards, but I’m still shocked to this day that not one of them won!
If you haven’t figured it out, I absolutely love Enchanted. It’s everything you want from a Disney Princess film, but with the real world setting, it’s unlike any you have ever seen before. Thanks to an incredible lead performance from Amy Adams, beautiful songs and music from Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, and a truly great twist on the Disney Princess formula with the real world setting and romantic comedy subplot, Enchanted is truly one of Disney’s greatest films that is pure Disney magic from start to finish!
RATING: 5 out of 5