Saturday, November 24, 2007

Enchanted (***)

Directed by Kevin Lima


When Enchanted opens, we see Princess Giselle; she is a cartoon and is summoning all her animal friends and expresses her wanting for "true love's first kiss". This is a statement that is repeated (frequently sung) throughout the movie, and is a good statement to start this wonderful film. In Princess Giselle's world, true love's first kiss is always a success, and there is always a happily ever after. When she's thrust into reality, she encounters it the only way she knows how, with a twinkle in her eyes and a beautiful smile.

Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) sees her possibility of happily ever after in Prince Edward (James Marsden), but issues lie with Edward's evil stepmother, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon). Not willing to give up her throne to the giddy, lovable Giselle, Narissa banishes her to a place where "there are no happy endings". Where is that place? New York City.

Giselle emerges out of a dirty pothole and is immediately confronted by the angry, narcissistic aspects that live throughout the city that never sleeps (including an angry little person she charmingly calls "Grumpy"). When she sees a castle door on a billboard she climbs up to investigate. She slips and falls, landing in the arms of divorce lawyer Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey). After being increasingly chided by his young daughter Morgan (youngster Rachel Covey), Robert conflictingly agrees to allow Giselle to stay in their home until Prince Edward can come to rescue her.

As she adjusts to life with an additional dimension, Giselle manages to turn Robert's life topsy-turvy. She calls all the animals of New York City (squirrels, rats, and even cockroaches) to help clean up the apartment. She sparks suspicion with Robert's serious girlfriend Nancy (Wicked star Idina Menzel). She also manages to conflict with Robert's job, which she can never understand because he seems to work toward taking apart the thing she truly believes in: true love. All this while being chased by Prince Edward, who also manages to reach New York; as well as being tracked by the evil Narissa.

All you have to do is see the preview to know that all the desirability of this movie comes from the intoxicating loveliness of Amy Adams. By now, most people should have seen Adams in the strange indie Junebug. Her sweet performance in that film brings a light to an otherwise dull, odd movie. In Enchanted, Adams is another showcase of her incredible talent and likability. Adams, for sure, is a rising star, if not a growing talent. Her wonderful smile and bright, big eyes goes hand-in-hand with the romantic idealism of Giselle. And again, her incredible likability sparks what would have otherwise been a hackneyed meeting of fairy tales and cynicism.

Giselle is able to direct cockroaches to clean, she's able to conduct an entire stage musical performance within Central Park, but most of all, she is able to move the heart of Robert, a man jilted and chilled by the disappearance of Morgan's mother, and the consistent conflict he sees at his job. She's able to let Robert believe that sometimes in life, there are fairy tale endings.

Of course, there is nothing that happens in this movie that is not predictable. It is a film for children, and will be enjoyed by many little girls (if hated by many little boys). But I'd be damned if the parents forced to join them are not touched by the powerful force of happiness Giselle exudes. It seems that there are many scenes where Giselle is supposed to be a nuisance to Robert and the rest of the real world (she likes making dresses out of his curtains), but there is nothing that she does in the film that makes her a nuisance to the audience.

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