It would be a sight quicker — and doubtless more gracious as well — to discuss what generally works in Disney’s Enchanted than to dwell on all that doesn’t; for the most part, then, that’s what I’ll attempt.
The film, which appears to want to present itself as a good-natured send-up of well-trod Disney-fairytale tropes — extemporaneous bursts of song; guileless princesses in search of love; smallish woodland creatures inexplicably compelled to flock to the aid of singing, lovelorn princesses — casts the preternaturally/terminally adorable Amy Adams as Giselle, a suspiciously familiar-looking cartoon lass (in the sense that she looks like a genetic hybridization of The Little Mermaid’s Ariel and that chick with a penchant for fur from Beauty and the Beast `stop that salivating, you certain sect of internet users, you`) who, on the day of her wedding to proto-prince Edward (James Marsden), is waylaid by stepmother/evil queen (natch) Narissa (Susan Sarandon, bearing a striking resemblance to Evil Lyn from He-Man), who shoves her down a hole that leads to a manhole in Times Square — only, it’s real Times Square, not Cartoon Times Square. Phew. There, Giselle — now real herself — meets sensible, engaged divorce lawyer Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and his young daughter Morgan (Rachel Covey) — both real. The latter of these has a serious thing for princesses; the former doesn’t (yet). The rest more or less writes itself, agreed? She teaches him to dream and let go, he teaches her to, um, be more real or something. Sparks fly, complications arise.
So. The good: There’s a very clever bit where Adams, waking up to Dempsey’s wrecked apartment, calls mellifluously to any animal friends in the vicinity, enlisting their cheery assistance in tidying up, which results in hordes of diligent pigeons, rats, and insects emerging from streets and gutters in response; they are, after all, in New York. There’s a moment in which Dempsey explains “divorce” to Adams’s Giselle, who starts genuinely crying. She does this well, and it’s funny. Also, there’s a can’t-help-but-laugh bit of charades with a sidekick CGI chipmunk. Oh, and Sarandon’s old-hag makeup near the climax, done by legendary master Stan Winston, is truly astonishing.
In general, though, the writing’s just not there. We don’t grow attached to the characters, because they aren’t interesting, even with cute-as-a-button Adams truly commiting. It seems rushed, like the writers ran out of ideas, and fell wholly and headlong into the very contrivances they were trying to ape. Kids can take sarcasm; don’t be afraid to be edgy. We should be much more worried about condescending to them. •