The Health and Safety Liability Princess

What if fairy tales actually came true? Not the Prince Charmings, magic castles, or Molly Maid rodent brigade stuff. I mean if Ariel sang a song, walked out of the ocean, and was arrested for public indecency. Enchanted is right up that alley. It perfectly blends the classic, animated Disney universe we grew up in with today’s loud, pushy, New York reality. Giselle (Amy Adams) is an animated almost-princess who needs a highly skilled team of woodland creatures to dress her in the morning. One unfortunate day,Giselle incurs the wrath of her step-mother-to-be, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), who exiles Giselle to the terrifying location of downtown New York City. It all makes sense thus far, right? Logical plot lines turn into why-the-hell-not singalongs when you learn that the queen banished Giselle in order to prevent her from marrying Prince Edward (James Marsden), but then allows Edward to run off and bring Giselle home safe and sound. Hmm. The only reason Edward, Giselle, and other fairy tale characters in renaissance attire don’t spot each other immediately is because conventional searching habits are substituted for the slightly less effective approach of singing and spinning.

A helium balloon has to be attached to something, however, lest it float away pointless and forgotten. Thank God for Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a.k.a. the rock. He rescues Giselle from a downtown intersection, acting upon the assumption that this is another New York night and she’s just another crazy chick in a ball gown. Robert graciously offers Giselle shelter and consequently gets stuck babbysitting, since Giselle is just too nutzo to face the world unsupervised. For example, in an effort to thank Robert, Giselle summons her woodland friends to clean his apartment, only New York’s animal population is less of the bunny variety and more of the pigeons, rats, and cockroaches sort. Delightful.

Enchanted shows all of these ridiculous Disney clichés for what they really are: ridiculous. In both the animated and live-action scenes, most of the animal cast are rather smart-mouthed with some clearly hailing from the rough streets of the Bronx. The fairy tale upbringing blinds Giselle, however, and leaves her ignorantly pleased to “Make new friends.” Be they bubonic plague carriers or not.

From Giselle’s magical seamstress abilities to her talking/squeaking chipmunk best friend, Enchanted is 100% a kid’s movie. There are a few jokes for adults, but not many. That said, if I was 6 or 7, this would be the best movie ever: princess gowns overnight, flash mobs at every corner, and a handsome selection of Prince Charmings.

Enchanted asks questions like: is it a good idea to marry someone the day after you meet? And: why can’t the princess save the prince? Great questions for a young crowd, but unfortunately they’re part of the script and not too important to the larger plot. The princess still needs saving 9 times out of 10, and, thanks to the magic of montage, apparently weds her charming dreamboat after a few short days.

Enchanted tries to break the fairy tale mold by playing with satire. Sadly, it slips right back into those classic clichés, as though the Disney Princess structure were a trap too tempting to elude. Still, it’s a funny film and a real breakthrough moment for Amy Adams; she glides through every scene with gracefully outstretched arms and a personality so perky it practically shits rainbows. I recommend it to girls aged 5 to 10 who will no doubt adore every minute. Enchanted hits its target audience on the nose, but compared to other movies in the Disney Princess genre, it comes to a 6/10.

Enchanted trailer.

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