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by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Wednesday Nov 21, 2007
Patrrick Dempsey and Amy Adams in "Enchanted"
Patrrick Dempsey and Amy Adams in "Enchanted"  (Source:Disney)

The problem with Disney's "Enchanted" isn't the central concept - in fact, the trailers for the film begged the question of why Disney hasn't effectively explored the conceit of Roger Rabbit before now. Creatively, the story of a Snow White-ish girl uprooted from her cartoon existence by an evil witch and deposited in live-action Manhattan is sheer brilliance. What's truly shocking then, particularly given Disney's pedigree with live action films, is the fact that once she's dumped in the real world, the movie becomes pedantic and predictable, proceeding from fanciful to boring in about ten minutes flat.

The story starts off in that cartoon land with Giselle (Amy Adams) singing in her pretty little house about "true love's kiss." Soon, all her little wildlife friends join into the ditty in a simultaneous homage/mock of Disney's traditional hand-drawn fare. True to form, a price (James Marsden) fighting an ogre miles away hears Giselle's song, rushes to her side and pretty much proposes on the spot - an act that angers his wicked stepmother Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) for no apparent good reason (she babbles on about fearing to lose her kingdom, which seems odd and convenient rather than motivated). In an effort to rid herself of the pesky girl, she transforms to a hag, offers an apple to Giselle, and then banishes her to "a place where there is no happy ever after" - we know it as "New York City."

After this prolonged (but moderately funny) preamble to the true story, the picture fails to accelerate. There are a few choice moments, mostly surrounding the witty songs written by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz - when Giselle is rescued from homelessness by a divorce lawyer (Patrick Dempsey) and sets about doing what she apparently does best (singing and cleaning the house), she calls out to her wildlife friends to help... and is answered by New York's finest: pigeons, rats and cockroaches. The result is the high point in the film. A similar song sequence occurs later in Central Park as Giselle breaks into song. Alas, these moments are precious, but too few - and the rest of the film is spent attempting to make us chuckle via the saccharine, big-eyed reactions of Giselle to her new world and the foppish antics of Prince Edward as he gives chase to her.

The cast acquits well given the material: Adams is appropriately enchanting, despite a role that's written to make any audience want to slap her silly. Marsden makes the film worth watching as he runs amok in New York wearing the silliest costumes imaginable. Sarandon phones in her role as the wicked stepmother, but she's consummately exquisite on film despite being "in the flesh" for just a few minutes. Dempsey is appropriately hunky, but it's a fairly dumb role. Even Idina Menzel, who is almost completely wasted in her part as Dempsey's fiancee, manages to rise above her dialogue.

The problem here is simple: originality. Screenwriter Bill Kelly wrote a story that hits every predictable snare in the clash between the real and animated worlds, but lacks inventiveness at every turn. This might have been a fast-paced, extremely funny film; instead it's a bore that will tickle young girls who fantasize about being a princess in the real world, but leave the rest of us itching for Pixar.



Runtime :: 108 mins
Release Date :: Nov 21, 2007
Language :: English
Country :: United States

David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.

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