Reviewed by Heather West
"...an adventure well worth the effort, and a film well worth seeing."
Most films seeking the title "blockbuster" cater to the broadest possible demographic. This pursuit generally requires them to target a group: 18-34 year olds, sci-fi enthusiasts, African-Americans, etc. What these single-category films miss is a larger, more inclusive demographic.
Among recent blockbusters, the most successful were the kind that cut across boundaries and categories, regardless of genre. Films have greater impact when they speak to the world as a whole, and target the one category we all fall into, the one thing everyone has experienced -- being a child.
Enchanted is one recent film that took advantage of this common denominator, and now holds a solid second-place record for all-time Thanksgiving opening (Toy Story 2 has first place). There are two big reasons why the movie is successful, aside from an enthusiastic cast, and engaging score and story: 1) There's nothing to compare it to; it is completely original. 2) It manages, without an excessive use of crude humor, to entertain kids and adults alike.
Enchanted takes every classic Disney convention -- a dashing prince, a soon-to-be-princess and a love-at-first sight romance -- throws them into the center of a world where, as villainous Queen Nerissa (Susan Sarandon) puts it, “There are no happily-ever-afters.” Yes, I’m talking about New York City.
The twist in Enchanted, one of many, is that the ultimate hero is actually a heroine: Princess Giselle, played by Amy Adams. When Giselle’s impending marriage to Prince Edward (James Marsden) threatens to deprive Queen Nerissa of her throne, the monarch turns evil stepmother. Tricked out of her wedding and her prince, Giselle faces the harsh realities of life in the big city. Though the trademark Disney moral code of good vs. evil turns up later, it is at this point that the film takes the opportunity to comment on humanity, on loneliness and indifference.
Giselle is saved by the timely arrival of divorce lawyer Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey) and his daughter Morgan (Rachel Covey). With her contagious charm and boundless enthusiasm, she begins to bring the magic back into their lives.
The film features a strong cast, led by Adams. She is the quintessential Disney princess, and fully embraces the innocence, and sporadic outbursts of song, that coincide with her role. She is joined in song by James Marsden, whose no-holds-barred acting and stellar vocals give Patrick Dempsey a run for his money. Dempsey, Covey, and Idina Menzel, who plays Dempsey’s fiancé, prove a somewhat disappointing contrast with characters like the henchman Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) and Giselle’s sidekick Pip (Jeff Bennett and Kevin Lima). But in all fairness, who would choose a cynical divorce lawyer over a sword-swinging crooner? Or an industrial-carpeted office over a fairytale castle?
Eventually, the film comes down to these decisions, and though it’s the characters that have to make the choices, we still ask, “Can you have fantasy and reality?” Enchanted says yes.
Disney diehards should be on the lookout for many Golden Age mementoes. Enchanted features cameos from films like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Lady and the Tramp, and Pocahontas.
In the end, whether you are the child who drags your parents to the theater, or the parent being dragged, or the 20-year old who does not have the luxury of such an excuse yet defies the shame and goes anyway, Enchanted is an adventure well worth the effort, and a film well worth seeing.
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Heather West is a sophomore English and Communications major, who firmly believes in the concept of the Renaissance man (or woman, in her case). In that vein, her interests include everything from piano, Broadway, and gospel choir to snowboarding, missionary work, and filmmaking. Her writing is inspired by her reading; her favorite authors are Brian Jacques, Bill Myers, Timothy Zahn, G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Kenneth Grahame, Chaim Potok, Isaac Asimov, and Lloyd Alexander. While she aspires to be a novelist and screenwriter, Heather equally enjoys journalism, particularly in the areas of film and music. Her dream job is creating clean, thought-provoking media that will point people back to God. She has written for Infuze Magazine, more recently for SoulAudio.com, and is thrilled to start writing for TitleTrakk!