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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Enchanted (review)

Toon In, Toon Out

I mean, of course. The sweet silliness of the collective Disney animated fairy tale landscape meets the rough reality of Noo Yawk City? Why didn’t someone think of this sooner? Why didn’t someone think of this sooner and pull it off as perfectly perfectly as Enchanted does? It couldn’t be whispier or more Disney-rific — don’t expect any grand philosophies on life beyond “ain’t true love grand?” — but as a way to pass a couple hours in sheer movie-movie bliss, you can’t go wrong.
Plus, Enchanted is an example of an even rarer cinematic creature: the movie wholly suitable for both kids and grownups, one that neither panders to nippers’ giggle-snort revelment in toilet humor nor shoehorns in inappropriate innuendo supposedly to keep the moms and dads amused. Everyone’s happy, and it doesn’t even suffer from that terrible tinge of being “good for you” in any way. It’s like junk food you won’t get a tummy ache from eating too much of.

I’d say Christmas came early this year, but I’d be risking overselling this one too much.

It’s not really the collective Disney fairy tale landscape we’re thrown into for the first ten minutes or so of Enchantment: it’s a snarky but loving parody of such. Aping the classic hand-drawn Disney toons of old, the land of Andalasia is a realm of troll-hunting princes — that would be the bombastic Edward (James Marsden: Hairspray, Superman Returns); dreamy girls who dreamily dream of meeting their True Loves — that would be Giselle (Amy Adams: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Catch Me If You Can), who aspires to the job of princess; and wicked stepmother monarchs — that would be Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon: Alfie, Shall We Dance?), Edward’s parental unit who desperately opposes his marriage to Giselle. Oh, didn’t I say? These two kids discover, mostly through song, that they’re each other’s True Love, and decide to get married the day after they meet and warble a duet. They sing a lot, these Adalasians, even the animals, when they’re not talking. The animals, that is. The humans don’t talk so much as declaim dramatically.

And it’s not really the roughest kind of New York Giselle lands in when Narissa banishes her from Andalasia as punishment for being so darn cute and irresistible to her stepson. It’s a fantasy New York: sure, Times Square at night is a bit intimidating, particularly when you’re climbing up through a manhole in the middle of the street, but Central Park is right out of a fairy tale: horse-drawn carriages and wandering musicians, fountains ideal for being serenaded in the vicinity of, meadows suitable for cavorting joyfully upon — the Great Lawn is alive with the sound of music, oh yes it is. (Julie Andrews [Shrek the Third, The Princess Diaries] narrates the film, oh yes she does.) It’s almost fairy-tale-ish, too, that just about the first human being Giselle meets in Manhattan is the guy who will never, ever be able to shake the heartachy appellation McDreamy if he lives to be 125: Patrick Demsey (Freedom Writers, Sweet Home Alabama), as a stick-up-his-butt lawyer who could use a lesson in True Love himself. (Did I mention he’s a divorce lawyer? Of course he is!) Fortunately, his Robert, a single dad, has a young daughter (Rachel Covey) whose brain is full of princesses and fluffy pinkness, and recognizes Giselle instantly for what she is: a ticket to Fantasia.

Screewriter Bill Kelly (Premonition) and director Kevin Lima (102 Dalmatians, Tarzan) hit all the right notes — from falsetto to bass, sweetness and light to Disney dark — with everything from their wrangling of the trip-you-up reality of romance in the nonanimated world, which Giselle begins to learn when Robert starts to loosen up a bit, to the inevitable rampage of the magical evil queen, the word for whom really does rhyme with witch, in that gleefully over-the-top way we expect from our cartoon villains. (The whole cast is note-perfect too, down to the cheery and slightly subversive songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, but Sarandon is having the most fun in a wickedly delicious role.) The ten minutes of hand-crafted toon that opens the movie is likely to be the last we’ll ever see from Disney now that CGI has taken over, but it couldn’t have gone out in a more, well, enchanting way.

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MPAA: rated PG for some scary images and mild innuendo

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb
  • I totally agree with you. I didn’t expect much from this, but I was thoroughly, well, enchanted by it. I love how it managed to have its cake and eat it too: there’s the fairytale for the little girls and the cynic being won over for the slightly older ones.

    Predictably, the film is already being criticized (on slant, for example) for being sexist. I disagree, and not because of the whole role reversal thing in the end scene: the way I understood it, Giselle doesn’t end up as a “contented housemaker and wife” but opens a shop, instead.

    Oh, I know, I’m overthinking it. But I can’t help it. This film is nothing but fluff, but it’s fluff that made me remember what it was like to see Cinderella for the first time.

  • MaryAnn

    Sexist? No way! Unless you want to think about the stereotype of wicked fairy tale stepmothers being so unfair to real stepmothers…

  • Disney, I’m happy to report, is already working on two new classically-animated films. You can thank John Lasseter, who always seems to have regretted the impact Pixar had on the old-school 2D films.

  • Miguel

    It’s the kind of movie that everybody will love but will be embarrased to admit it. I went to a screening about 6 weeks ago and you could hear how the audience enjoyed every mintue of it, yet at the end people were merely saying ‘it was ok’. I assume they didn’t want to admit how much they liked it because it’s a Disney romantic comedy, but seeing how it’s 92% fresh according to rotten tomatoes, this might turn around and it will be OK to say ‘I liked Enchanted’.

    By the time Giselle was singing at Central Park, I was lost in that New Yorkish Andalasian world. James Marsden and Susan Sarandon are fantastic in it.

  • Eric Burgan

    With a star-is-born performance by Amy Adams and a well played hook (Andalasia/NY)the film took me away from my oh so not Andalasia life and had me yearning to live happily ever after in Princess Giselle’s realm. Or even just down the hall in the next apartment would be good. We’d go to book group together, sing songs, go to the park…..

  • MBI

    I feel like a mean person for kicking at this movie, but I really didn’t like it. MaryAnn acknowledges that it’s a fantasy-land New York, and I think that alone negates the premise. There are a few scenes here which really sell the magic of fantasy and the horrible mess of reality — the dance in the ball is fantastic, as is the moment where Gisele realizes that she’s falling in love with Dempsey. This literal fairytale princess who not only believes in but embodies the fantasy losing her illusions — that’s powerful stuff. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie occupies the Land of RomCom, that melding of fantasy and reality that gives us the worst of both worlds. Lima doesn’t seem to realize that what works in ink and paint looks stupid and juvenile with flesh and blood — he’s much more at ease with the cartoon sequences. That Central Park musical number was ridiculously bad.

  • Well, my girlfriend loved it (and isn’t that what is most important?)

    But, seriously, folks, any film that can get applause from MaryAnn despite a lead actress who looks suspiciously like a young Julia Roberts deserves a thumbs up in my book.

    I must confess that I missed the part where Giselle is opening up a shop. Didn’t the last scene she was in have her playing games with her new spouse and stepdaughter?

    At least they didn’t make her a ballerina or a super-model.

  • MaryAnn

    That Central Park musical number was ridiculously bad.

    Have you ever been to Central Park on a beautiful spring day, MBI? It actually kinda feels like that number.

    any film that can get applause from MaryAnn despite a lead actress who looks suspiciously like a young Julia Roberts

    Do you really think I’m shallow enough to hate an actress merely for *looking like* Julia Roberts?

    (I don’t even hate Roberts: I hate her fans.)

  • MBI

    I’m sure Central Park on a nice day is wonderful and everything; that scene is still terribly directed. Flat, no energy. Doesn’t compare well with the new Hairspray movie (which I was prepared to hate but won me over through sheer exuberance).

    The movie I wanted to see would have had Gisele dealing with real reality, not the kid’s movie non-reality it gave us. I can deal with witches and poison apples and whatever, I can’t deal at all with a prince who doesn’t mind at all losing his One True Love. That’s fantasy which isn’t romantic, it’s just insulting. Aside from one or two (utterly fantastic) moments, Adams is basically just Will Ferrell’s Elf in a dress and Marsden is stuck playing a parody of a character that I’m not sure really ever existed (He doesn’t really resemble either the blank-faced ciphers of Disney’s early Prince Charmings or the brooding, sensitive princes of the early ’90s blockbusters.) It’s a waste of a premise and a disappointment, it feels like two undernourished halves of movies rather than a whole one.

    I have no problem with any of the animated scenes though.

  • MaryAnn

    I can’t deal at all with a prince who doesn’t mind at all losing his One True Love.

    Even if he learns she isn’t his one true love?

  • MaryAnn, you never fail me. The count of movies that I rolled my eyes at, only to reconsider upon reading your positive review and being very glad I did, just keeps climbing – three of them this year alone. (In case you’re curious: “Grindhouse,” “3:10 to Yuma,” and now “Enchanted.”) The count of movies I saw on your recommendation and disliked remains at zero. Thank you so much for pointing me at wonderful films that I would have ignored otherwise.

    (Oh, and I can’t remember if I ever mentioned it, but I was the one who was asking if you had any clue about how wide a release “Death at a Funeral” would be. It did end up coming to town and I loved it.)

  • MaryAnn

    You’re welcome!

  • meh

    i love julia roberts. you hate me?! ::slinks away::

  • MaryAnn

    Why do you love her? If you love her for glamorizing prostitution in *Pretty Woman,* then yes, I hate you.

  • I haven’t seen this movie and probably won’t even when it hits HBO/etc. But I did want to throw in 2¢ about something someone said up above, to whit:

    Amy Adams is much more attractive than Julia Roberts ever was.

  • Do you really think I’m shallow enough to hate…
    –MaryAnn Johanson


    But in view of what has been going on in other threads, this probably wasn’t the best time to tease you on that subject.

    And yes, Clayj, Amy Adams is much more attractive than Julia Roberts. But there is a bit of a resemblance between them.

    IMHO, of course.

  • Marie

    If anyone looks like a young Julia Roberts, I’d say it is Anne Hathaway. But I love both AH and Amy Adams and think they have acting abilities and personalities all their own.

    As for the movie, I can’t wait to watch it again when it comes on DVD. It was just so feel-good. All of the Disney (and even King Kong) references were so nostalgic and I loved that there were no adult innuendos or “kids” jokes. It was just good quality. And I was surprised that Amy Adams was able to play doe-eyed without ever being annoying.

    As for the dancing scene, I thought it was great. I was seriously sitting in the theater bobbing my head to the beat. I thought it was way better than the mind-numbingly dull and similar musical numbers in Hairspray–although the two leads, Allison Janney, and Amanda Bines were good.

  • MaryAnn

    I loved that there were no adult innuendos or “kids” jokes.

    Kids movies have gotten so bad that I’m happy these days when there’s no fart jokes.

  • It wasn’t that squeaky clean of a comedy. Remember that canine urination scene?

    But I am glad to see a hunger for more family-friendly comedy coming out of Hollywood.

    Just because I enjoy an occasional R-rated movie doesn’t mean I want to see such stuff all the time.

  • MBI

    “Even if he learns she isn’t his one true love?”

    I’m very late on responding to this, but yes — ESPECIALLY if he learns she isn’t his one true love. Otherwise, he and his emotions come across as very shallow. Like I said, I could deal with it if it was about how shallow fairy tale characters are, but the film seems to care enough about his stupid emotions to give him a happy ending with a real live person. Just can’t buy it.

  • MaryAnn

    But he *was* shallow. And so was Giselle. And then he learned that not being shallow was better.

  • Jennifer

    Well, of course Edward is shallow, that was kind of the whole point. He stayed a happy, brainless, fairytale ditz and Giselle didn’t. What I didn’t buy was Nancy being so ok about losing Robert so abruptly and absurdly after five years. Or else I don’t buy that he was going to marry someone so shallow, and it’s got to be one or the other.

    Still though, I loved the movie, and I’ll definitely see it again someday. And I second the notion that I wouldn’t have seen it without your review, MaryAnn. I love that you see almost every movie, and that our taste overlaps about 99%

  • MBI

    “And then he learned that not being shallow was better.”

    No he didn’t.

  • MaryAnn

    Not that I agree with that, but you said: “I could deal with it if it was about how shallow fairy tale characters are.”

  • paul

    I thought the movie was adorable, and the foreshadowing clever. I hope the daughter keeps up with her karate.

    I can understand why some people would accuse it of sexism, with the focus on clothes, sewing, shopping, and the modern woman getting married and throwing away her cell phone, but that seems balanced by the princess’ growth into a fuller person. I suppose both women characters went through an arc of getting in touch with another side of themselves, as did the lawyer. The prince didn’t, but if he’s satisfied with being a basically good, stand up sort of guy, that’s okay, too.

  • Deena

    I agree 100% and whole-heartedly that despite the fact that Giselle does turn out to be the hero in the end and despite the fact that she owns a dress shop, this movie is totally, unquestionable SEXIST!!!

    The reason…well…where shall I start?! In an era where we are supposed to be empowering women and girls to be less intent on finding “One True Love” and more independent and self-sufficient. Especially since we came so close to actually having our nation’s first female president! The problem in the movie. The lead female character is basically all of the submissive Disney princesses (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel and Cinderella) into one dizzy love-obsessed ditz who summons the local rats and termites to help clean the leading man’s house. The leading man in this is none other than Dr. McDreamy himself, who at first has the right idea; his soon-to-be fiance is a beautiful, loving, yet self-assured and professional businesswoman and he himself is inspiring his young 5-year-old daughter to believe in hardcore feminism rather than fairytales. Then, of course, Princess Giselle emerges from the sewers out of the animated Disneyworld and enters into McDreamy’s life and while at first her endless pluckiness and chidlike optomism drives him nuts, he soon begins to fall under her spell, hense ruining his relationship with his girlfriend, whom he has recently proposed to. Then the ex-girlfriend decides to leave the “real world” behind and enter the animated “Disneyworld” and marries the Prince Charming who enters the real world in desperate search of Giselle! And even though they don’t even know each other, the two get married and she even chucks her now-animated cellphone! Giselle apparently marries McDreamy and becomes stepmother to his daughter.

    So, what is being learned here??? “Girls…if you want to be happy and fulfilled in your life, find yourself a “Prince Charming” and instead of being a self-sufficient, independent, strong woman, turn into a shrilly little dingbat who lives only for your man”??? ARGH!!!

    And to think this movie came out after “Thelma & Louise”, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”, “The Devine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” and so many other movies about female empowerment and women’s independence from men!! Makes me hang my head in complete, utter shame!!

  • bitchen frizzy

    I gotta call BS on that last paragraph. “Ya Ya” is about female empowerment? Who’s the role-model for that in the movie, the codependent alcoholic or the baggage-laden daughter?

    “Thelma and Louise,” maybe, except when they literally go off the deep end. That’s sort of a Hays-code karma for their liberties.

  • MaryAnn

    Yeah, thank you, bitchen frizzy. *Ya-Ya Sisterhood* is the exact opposite of anything that can be considered feminist, and *Thelma and Louise* pretty much tells women that death is the inevitable upshot of any attempt to independence. Unfortunately, I fear that is a metaphorically accurate depiction of the current state of womanhood.

    And who the hell ever said that a woman cannot be an independent, self-sufficient feminist AND find true love? Or are you suggesting, Deena, that true love is inherently misogynist and anti-woman?

  • Deena

    Uh, HELLO??!?!?! Wake up!! We are trying to get women to become independent from men and to not rely on finding a man for happiness and fulfillment! If anything, women are better than men and are smarter than men, more self-sufficient than men…yet, crap movies like this are what set women back a hundred years to being these submissive little shrilly, helpless creatures who need their man for every little thing. Come on…men can’t even tie their own shoes, or whipe their butts!! But not our problem!! Women rule!! But the thing is this movie was made by, big surprise, A F*CKING MAN!!!!! See, all men want women to be inferior and submissive! The reason this movie upsets me so is because my 11-year-old niece watches it all the time with her friends and these little girls are once again being force-fed the wrong ideas about life. Women need to stop obsessing over finding love, and more intent on being our own people. Men need us….we don’t need men! GET IT?!?!?!?!

  • bitchen frizzy

    Here’s what I get:

    You are extremely negative about men.

    MaryAnn asked you a good question: what is inherently anti-feminist about a woman wanting to find true love? Wanting, that is, not needing.

    A woman can be BOTH in a loving relationship with a man AND not reliant upon that man for her happiness and fulfillment. If it’s need-based, it’s not love. Get it?

    And on the topic of movies: who were the happy and fullfilled women in your examples of Ya-Ya and T&L? Which characters in those movies would be good role-models for your niece?

  • MaSch

    Deena, calling “Enchanted” “totally, unquestionable SEXIST” and then writing what you wrote above is a wonderful example of “the pot calling the kettle black”. Thanks for that.

    By the way, wasn’t there someone on this site claiming misandry does not exist?

  • Deena

    True feminists are women who do NOT get involved in romantic relationships of any kind with men. We all know as much as we would love to think that a woman can be independent and in love at the same time, it just isn’t possible. Women need to be less intent on finding a man and stick together for a change. Friendship between women is far more meaningful than anything you could have with a man. And yet too many women are always duking it out, hense forth ruining feminism and female empowerment usually over, SURPRISE!!, men! Men aren’t going to be around forever (thank God for cloning). And misogyny is a sin…misandry is perfectly fine.

  • MaSch

    Feminists=Lesbians? I thought this was bullshit made up by frightened men, but there you go.

    Don’t thank God for cloning, because: a) God didn’t develop human cloning, men did, and b) if even God did, God is male.

    By the way, what you describe as “true feminists” others (including, well, true feminists) would call “female gender supremacists”.

  • Deena

    Don’t you understand that men are responsible for everything that is wrong with the world? You just said it yourself! Men have ruined feminism, are responsible for all the wars, are the reason why women don’t stick together, are the reason for the economic crisis….GET IT?!?!?!?! Men deserve to die!

  • bitchen frizzy

    Maybe Deena is joking and I’ve fallen for it? The last line of her previous post makes me wonder.

    Otherwise she’s validating every negative stereotype of femininsts.

  • Deena

    Deal with it….men are worthless piles of sh*t who deserve to die….women are fabulous!!

  • bitchen frizzy

    OK, joke’s on me.

    The first post was very convincing, though.

  • tami

    i loved this movie and didn’t see anything wrong with it. it was just one of those sweet escape type films. however it is a little sad that it is hard to find true love in this day in age. especially since britney spears is the #1 most wanted woman in the world by every straight man since 1998.

  • Jess

    “Enchanted” is the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. So what if it’s a little dated?! The only “sexist” thing around here is Deena’s attitude. As for Britney, of course lots of guys still like Britney because she’s so sweet and very beautiful so just deal with it and get over your pathetic jealousy, Tami! To me Tami and Deena are just bitter and jealous.

  • Lenny

    I watched this for the first time with my wife on TV a few nights ago and we liked it, but didn’t exactly love it.

    I do agree, though, to a certain extent that this movie is a little sexist against women and dated. Because the main male character, Patrick Dempsey, is involved with this really attractive and professional woman who I see nothing wrong with. She’s really smart, intelligent and independent. But then he encounters the Amy Adams character, who’s innocent, naieve and not too swift and cares only about being in love and he suddenly falls for her at the drop of a hat after not being too fond of her during the first half of the film. But after he is caught with her by his girlfriend and then manages to make peace with her, he then sees Amy Adams at the ball and he dances with her and suddenly falls in love with her. Meanwhile, his poor girlfriend is left with the Prince from the cartoon world and even though she doesn’t know him she runs off with him and marries him in the fairytale world.

    My wife and I both talked about the movie afterward and both agreed that this movie does have its ups, like when the “cartoons” emerge in the real world and are thrusted into the cold, harsh reality of NYC and try to enthuse their ideals onto this new world they are in. Like the girl singing in Central Park and it suddenly turns into this big musical number. But the underlying sexism of the film bothered us a great deal, especially since we have a young daughter, who watched the film with us and got all dreamy-eyed over the idea of finding true love and meeting “Prince Charming”.

    That’s my take on this otherwise enjoyable movie.

  • Tami

    I have to scoff at this movie being called “sexist” and “anti-women” because when you think about it it’s the women in this movie who triumph over the men. The prince becomes less vain and shallow because of his “date” with Giselle. Robert becomes less “anal” after meeting and umtimately falling in love with Giselle. And let us not forget who saved who at the end of the movie, okay! Nancy wasn’t bitchy or anything, but she wasn’t the right match for Robert. But you happen to notice when she and the prince are getting married, SHE dips the prince for a kiss??? I’d say that’s pretty empowering. I do believe that women are somewhat superior to men, but that’s a good thing. The old saying goes, “Behind Every Good Man Is An Even Better Woman”.

  • jenna

    i was pretty surprised to see amy adams venture from doing R-rated stuff, like lesbian lovemaking scenes, to fluffy and plucky disney fair. but i thought she did a great job as the sweet-natured disney heroine and is in my opinion one of the most naturally beautiful women in hollywood today. as far as the men are concerned patrick dempsey is his usual adorable self but give me james marsden anyday. :*

  • Misconglomeration

    Agh! I read through like every single comment, and not even the feminists get it. The electra complex vibes are so obvious, and no one else sees it at all! If it hadn’t been a comedy, Giselle’s childishness would have gotten real creepy, real fast. As it was it was weirding me out by the time we got to the first of McDreamy’s super awkward “Isn’t that adorable..” looks.
    And you know what? I would have been absolutely fine with the movie, and everyone in it, if Giselle had just ended up with Edward at the end. You know why? Cause while he was a traditional Disney prince cardboard cutout, he was also the closest thing she had in the movie to a PEER.
    Besides, you know, the daughter.

  • MaryAnn

    If it hadn’t been a comedy, Giselle’s childishness would have gotten real creepy, real fast.

    Agreed. But it *is* a comedy, and more, it’s a parody. Giselle’s childishness is deliberate, and essential to the parody.

    But what do you think we feminists are “not getting”?

    he was also the closest thing she had in the movie to a PEER.

    So, a peer one doesn’t love — and who does not love you — is preferrable to a nonpeer who does love you, and whom you love?

  • Well, older man/younger woman romances aren’t exactly rare in Hollywood. And like the old cliche about white men being mistaken for gods, it can get rather tiresome.

    That said, you don’t necessarily choose the type of person you fall in love with. You choose what you do with that love.

    And if you think you can’t fall in love with someone outside of your peer group, well…

    You never know.

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