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 (Best sung to Giselle’s “Happy Working Song”)
 
Pretty girl Giselle is just swell and is animated all day long;
Woodland creatures help her sing a song.
She expects her prince to come and be her new love;
When he does, they sing of true love,
Since there’s nothing wrong.
 
Then an evil witch, Edward’s stepmother, has a diabolic plan,
To evict Giselle because she can.
So she sends the princess down a well descending
Where there is no happy ending
And no perfect man.
 
In the callous streets of New York, poor Giselle is both afraid and lost,
Till one Robert finds his path has crossed
With this somewhat crazy fairy tale freethinker,
Who’s a tailor, not a drinker,
And cleans at no cost.
 
When he hears the news, Edward hunts for his darling on a hero’s trip,
With her talking chipmunk sidekick Pip,
But they stick out like a sore thumb in the city,
Searching for his dearest pretty,
Like he’s lost his grip.
 
As he tries to help out Giselle, Robert’s reeled in by her fresh appeal,
And his girlfriend Nancy has to deal.
Yet Giselle assists him with romance and crooning,
But she ends up nearly swooning
When love grows more real.
 
Edward soon arrives, but Giselle is no longer visibly naïve,
And she’s hesitant to up and leave.
So Edward and she try dating to get closer,
But it’s Robert who’ll engross her
At a ball that eve.
 
But the evil queen shows herself since her henchman hasn’t done too well
In his efforts to dispatch Giselle.
So she employs tactics you may have seen elsewhere
And scares everybody else there
With a fearsome spell.
 
Once the queen is stopped and destroyed when a hero steps up to the plate,
Robert and Giselle conclude their date.
It is clear that they both share a love enchanted,
But Edward’s not emptyhanded,
For his loves won’t often wait.
 
Robert and his young daughter have Giselle,
Settled in this world into which she fell,
Merrily,
Happy ever after, verily,
Now that everyone has found their perfect mate.
___________________
 

Before The Princess and the Frog revisited the princess genre (with iffy results), Disney created Enchanted, a modern mish-mashing of classic fairy tales and contemporary cynicism. The animated beginning could easily have been a rejected idea from the Disney Renaissance, but the overtly saccharine telling is clearly meant to be a contrast for the rest of the film. Once Giselle actually gets to New York and its live-action acrimony, the real humor starts flowing from the disparity between her naiveté and our world’s unfriendliness.

While Edward is certainly not the perfect prince of Disney’s early films, Enchanted succeeds in its combination of opposites by being both realistic and idealistic. Based on Giselle’s first encounters with New Yorkers, she would be justified in considering it the least nice place on earth, but later on, as she explains to Robert the importance of affection, all of Central Park turns into a completely willing musical cast. This serves to accentuate how innocence and idealism can bring out the best in people, even when the world can seem so hostile at times. At the same time, Giselle’s introduction to the joys of the real world convince her these are preferable to the unsubstantial romance she had known before with Edward. That point, of course, doesn’t apply to everyone since Nancy, apparently fed up with the pitfalls of “real” relationships, obviously preferred the love-at-first-sight kind of courtship.

This is the film that hoisted Amy Adams to stardom, at least for me, and continues to be the role in which I always envision her, one of innocence. Her voice, face, and acting all lend themselves to her upright damsel persona. Roles that have allowed for this image, such as in Doubt or Night at the Museum 2, play to her strengths, while films where she attempts to act the “bad girl,” such as the recent American Hustle, just don’t seem to fit her. Patrick Dempsey took a break from Grey’s Anatomy to play single father Robert, who may be a pessimist but has obvious appeal for Nancy and Giselle. James Marsden portrays Prince Edward as an entertaining buffoon, but I do wish he had more to contribute to the plot. Susan Sarandon and Timothy Spall look like they’re enjoying their hammy villainous roles as Queen Narissa and bumbling servant Nathaniel. Lastly, I had no idea who Broadway star Idina Menzel (Nancy) was at the time, but after hearing her in Frozen, it’s a shame she didn’t get a chance to sing in this film: her one song with Marsden was cut.

The choreography and songs, written by winning duo Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, are outstanding, a welcome return to the good old days of both Disney excellence and classic musicals. The show-stopping “That’s How You Know” is particularly awesome, but the fact that all three of its Oscar-nominated songs lost (not unlike the previous year’s Dreamgirls) is a crying shame.

The film isn’t all good, of course. Certain scenes toward the end vacillate between an homage and a ripoff of Disney classics, and some scenes involving Pip the chipmunk, such as his defecation and Nathaniel’s cruelty toward him, were unnecessary. Still, Enchanted brings Disney’s animation to life in a fresh and funny way that my family watches whenever it’s on TV. It’s enchanting.

Best line: (a child-stressed mother, played by Judy Kuhn from Pocahontas, when she sees “Prince Charming” Edward) “You’re too late.”

 
Artistry: 6
Characters/Actors: 8
Entertainment: 8
Visual Effects: 9
Originality: 6
Watchability: 9
 
TOTAL: 46 out of 60
 

Next: #162 – Rain Man

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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