Punch Judge Ryan Keefer's ticket to Epcot because, by Disney, he liked this little number, despite cynicism that would tell him otherwise.
Our review of Enchanted, published March 18th, 2008, is also available.
The real world and the animated world collide.
After several years of producing few enjoyable films when it came to family-friendly fare (Pixar films don't count), Disney came back with Enchanted, unveiling a $125 million gem of a film at the end of 2007 to a load of popular and critical acclaim. So now that it's being released on DVD and on Blu-ray, is it as good as everyone's been saying?
Facts of the Case
Enchanted was written by Bill Kelly, which is surprising since he also wrote 2007's bomb, Premonition. Kelly certainly knew the highs and lows of 2007. Anyway, Kevin Lima (102 Dalmatians) directed it, and the film's main character is Giselle (Amy Adams, Charlie Wilson's War), a young woman living her life in the village of Andalasia, where she is due to be married to Prince Edward (James Marsden, Hairspray). However, Edward's mother, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon, Mr. Woodcock) has problems with this, and, disguised as a witch, pushes Giselle over the edge of a waterfall to a place where "there are no happy endings." Giselle reappears as a live-action figure in the middle of New York City. While struggling to find out where she is, Giselle runs into Robert (Patrick Dempsey, Grey's Anatomy), a single parent and divorce lawyer. As Giselle's friendship with Robert seems to develop into "something more," to the dismay of Robert's girlfriend Nancy (Idina Menzel, Rent), Edward comes to New York, trying to find Giselle so that he can marry her.
What makes Enchanted so enjoyable might be the fact that it tends to revel in its legacy without directly bathing in it. It takes the fun and fantasy elements of the hits over the years of Disney's animated library and turns it into live-action storytelling that, with the proper cast and execution, really makes it all worthwhile. First off, Lima has been working with Disney animated films for quite some time, working in the visual department of Beauty and the Beast before writing the story for Aladdin and subsequently directing 1999's Tarzan. If there's anyone who would be as familiar with what makes a Disney film more of an event in recent years, it would be him. Combining that with subtle nods to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and other Disney catalog stalwarts brings things to a healthy combination of nostalgia and modern comic sensibilities, parsed out in the right doses, of course.
The casting of the film is as perfect as you could get. I was telling my wife that Adams reminds me a lot of Kristin Wiig (Saturday Night Live) and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers). At the same time, she reminds me in a way of Holly Hunter in Miss Firecracker—always optimistic, always perky, in a way that even when she's angry, you can't help but grab her and say, "aww, you're terrific!" Her male lead might be McDreamy, but some of us remember long ago that he was Ronald Miller in Can't Buy Me Love, and seems to sport his heart on his sleeve now just as he did then. Both he and Adams seem to possess the qualities that the story requires, delivering fun performances that aren't to be taken entirely seriously. The real fun of the film is Marsden as the Prince, who jumps into the role with both feet and has a ton of fun with it, providing laughs every time that he's on the screen. As Narissa's accomplice Nathaniel, Timothy Spall (The Last Hangman) takes the stodgy British role of a downtrodden assistant and makes him a semi-weepy kind of guy who is taken to calling talk shows and I think even drinking when trying to find out what Narissa's motivations are. While Sarandon is barely seen in live-action form, she uses the witty dialogue to make the cruel Queen into a three-dimensional version of the witch from Snow White.
Technically this is a slight sonic change of pace for Disney, as instead of a PCM uncompressed soundtrack there's a Dolby TrueHD surround track to pore over. The dialogue is clear and well-focused in the center channel, subwoofer activity is ample, and surround activity is just as prevalent, starting when Giselle first pops up in Times Square and not stopping until the end. It's nice work from the House of Mouse. The MPEG-4 encoded presentation is also not too shabby either, starting with the animated opening, which is full of pretty vivid colors, and transitioning over to real life, where the flesh tones are warm and pretty accurate, and the colors are reproduced rather nicely as well. The picture also possesses a nice multidimensional look through the feature. Rather excellent work again, Disney, excellent indeed.
The one thing that's a little disappointing is the lack of substantive additional features. There is a trio of featurettes about six minutes each. The first part looks at the music of the film before transitioning to the animals that were used in the live-action shots. From there, Adams discusses working with the veil of invisibility before computer-generated characters were filled in, and the live-action dailies are included before all of the visual effect passes are done. The musical number in Central Park is given time next, while the extras and choreographers talk about the challenges they faced. The last is about the finale sequence; the stunt performers, Sarandon, and others talk about how they all came together for the last shots. It's decent, but again only runs about 20 minutes. Six deleted scenes, totaling eight minutes, follow. Aside from a scene that flushes out Nancy's character a little more, which is nice, the other scenes are pretty forgettable, as is the two-minute blooper reel and music video from Carrie Underwood. An animated "pop-up adventure" follows, as Pip (Giselle's chipmunk friend) tries to bring the princess back in five minutes of computer generated pop-ups; it's harmless entertainment. An interactive game covering the film with various Disney nods is exclusive to the Blu-ray disc, as the questions range from the songs to the scenes, and the answer is followed by an explanation by Lima or another member of the crew. It's harmless fun and worth it to your PS3-possessing child. And that's that. No commentaries and no extended interviews with anyone other than Adams, so I smell a Platinum Edition in a decade or something.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Even on the largest of leaps, you still kind of realize how everything is going to pan out. It's whether or not you have a problem with it that determines what you are going to think of it. Plus, the Nancy character doesn't seem to get the kind of exposition or creative respect that one would even hope for, but that's a lesser point of fault.
Enchanted takes all the best things from the old Disney films and puts them into a modern setting, kind of like Snow White meets Big or something like that. The musical numbers are in that same mold and those performing them put their heart and souls into the role and you can't help but join them, like taking a stroll into a warm bath. It's relaxing and fun, and can possibly be looked at as a new classic in the Disney stable. It helps that technically the disc looks and sounds really, really good. I heartily encourage you to pick it up.
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• Deleted Scenes
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