Ken's Review: Enchanted - Makes Me Long for the Disney of Old
by Ken Evans
November 27, 2007
Disney is so hit or miss with me. They either hit the nail right on the head or miss it by a mile. I was going over a list of all the animated films that Disney has ever made and realized that besides Pixar movies, the last one that I really enjoyed was The Emperor's New Groove in 2000, before that it was The Lion King in 1994. I realize that there are those Pocahontas, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, and Lilo & Stitch fans that are probably screaming at me right now. They were by no means terrible, they just weren't that enjoyable for me personally. Thankfully, Enchanted takes me back to the classic Disney films of old that I love so much.
Enchanted is about Giselle (Amy Adams) who lives in an animated world waiting for her true love to find her. After watching Giselle dance and sing about her prince charming, we are introduced to Prince Edward (James Marsden) along with his sidekick Nathaniel (Timothy Spall). Nathaniel has been assigned to watch over Prince Edward by the evil Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) so that Edward never finds a wife to replace her as queen. Despite Nathaniel's attempts, Edward finds Giselle and plans to get married. Narissa casts Giselle into a portal that sends her out of animation and into the real world. She soon becomes friends with Robert (Patrick Dempsey) who helps her out and ends up learning what real love can truly be.
My wife and I are big Disney fans. We are by no means fanatics who think everything that Disney does is brilliant, nor do we decorate our house with Disney memorabilia. We would classify ourselves as classic Disney fans, which enjoy watching the old Disney films like Snow White and The Seven Dwarves, Mary Poppins, Lady and The Tramp, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and The Sword in the Stone. I could name many more, but I think you get the idea. We even had a season pass to Disneyland when we lived in California. All of that to say that I love fantasy, animation and anything that can teleport you into another world; I love to be enchanted.
About 1/3rd of the film is animated, and not CGI but the hand-drawn animation that made me fall in love with Disney in the first place. Watching the animated portion at the beginning made me wish that the whole movie would be animated. Then, we got transported into the real world. I was surprised how much I still liked the film once Giselle gets sent to real-world New York City. What really held it together for me was the casting choices.
Amy Adams was absolutely, insanely perfect for this role. The bubbly, happy, innocent nature of her character never felt forced or like she was acting. That has to be the most fun role she will ever have in her career. I have always enjoyed her in other films but rarely do you see a role that matches the actor so perfectly. Timothy Spall, from the last few Harry Potter films and the upcoming Sweeney Todd, was also great. He is good in those quirky, insecure roles where he doesn't lead and just ends up being the puppet for someone else.
James Marsden played the Prince in the real world amazingly. His cheesiness and facial expressions were spot on. Unfortunately, his character wasn't on screen much and I was left wanting more. Patrick Dempsey was only okay. His acting was fine, but it was more his stupidity that bothered me. How he could think animals in his apartment and that someone having the ability to talk to doves is normal is beyond me. One of my favorite characters was the chipmunk named Pip, much funnier in the real world then when animated. He was another that I felt didn't get enough screen time. Lastly and my least liked, was Susan Sarandon as the evil queen. I'm not sure what it was exactly, but it didn't feel like she really owned the role. Not quite evil enough, almost like she couldn't understand how to play an evil cartoon queen.
Enchanted was a solid flick. It screams holiday family film or a movie to take a date to. My wife loved it, while I only liked it. It will be one of those films where it will depend on who you see it with to determine whether you like it. I probably wouldn't have liked as much if my wife hadn't have been there with me. While definitely one of my favorite Disney films from the last few years, it still doesn't come close to comparing with the classics.