STARRING: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel, Rachel Covey, Susan Sarandon

2007, tbc Minutes, Directed by: Kevin Lima

Description: This Disney movie centers on a princess-in-waiting who is banished from a classical animation world by a vainglorious queen and dumped into a modern-day, live-action Manhattan.

Whimsical, delightful and charming. These are the sort of adjectives that a card-carrying cynical hack such as myself usually thinks twice nay thrice about using. Yet there are no other words to describe Disney’s latest part-animated part-live action romantic comedy Enchanted.

The action kicks off in animated mode with the sort of heightened Disney fairy tale pastiche that made the Disney Corporation enough money to buy almost the whole world. Or at least huge patches of France to build theme parks on for disinterested Europeans. Beautiful princess Giselle (Amy Adams) meets up with Prince Edward (no relation) and in typical vapid storybook style decide to get married immediately. This would however mean that Edward’s mother, the evil queen, can lose her throne to her son and before you can say “Happily N’Ever After” the princess is banished to a place “where there are no happy endings.” Yup, you guessed it: Giselle is banished to the real our world. Or rather New York City to be more specific. Here a cynical yet charming divorced lawyer (Patrick Dempsey) and his six-year-old daughter, who is obviously the only person to believe that Giselle is indeed a princess from a magical kingdom, luckily help her.

When you think about it, the first Shrek movie has a lot to answer for. Not only did it spawn the unnecessary Shrek the Third sequel, but it also convinced Hollywood that there is money to be made by spoofing fairy tale conventions and thus inspired several inferior rip-offs such as Hoodwinked and Happily N’Ever in the process. Now Disney is getting in on the act too. On the one hand it is kind of sad in a way to think that Disney is now cynically trying to make money by poking fun at the type of movie that made them such a fortune throughout the years. Movies such as Snow White, Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella, which are right now wearing out the laser eye on my DVD player as my four-year-old endlessly watches them over and over again.

On the other hand, Enchanted is so good-natured and whimsical that one doesn’t really care at all. To be honest, the material could have been funnier by being nastier and mean-spirited, but Enchanted thankfully never takes this route. It gently pokes fun at the fairy tale genre while paying tribute to those movies at the same time. What elevates the screenplay at hand and makes the movie work is Amy Adams’ spot-on performance as Giselle, the fish-out-water princess. All giggly and overoptimistic, she is a hyperactive child trapped in an adult’s body or make that a one-dimensional character in a complex world.

The other performances all have a suitable over-the-top pantomime feel to them except for Patrick Dempsey who plays the straight man as the oft bemused lawyer. James Marsden however is all vapid smiles as the airhead prince who comes to Giselle’s rescue while Susan Sarandon is clearly having fun as the evil queen, bulging cleavage and all! Special effects are okay but a CGI dragon towards the end is clearly not intended to be realistic at all.

Usually the phrase “live action Disney comedy” is enough to send shivers of fear down the spine of any adult. Enchanted is however an exception. While not quite suitable for very young children, the tween girls whom the movie is aimed at will have a blast. And so will their unsuspecting parents accompanying them to the theatres.

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