Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
US Rating: PG - For Some Scary Images And Mild Innuendo
Film Length: 107 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 2:35.1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound, French and Spanish 5.1
Subtitles: Optional Spanish and French
The Film - out of
Once upon a time, in a land and time not so far away, beautiful and fair princesses toiled in animated lands awaiting handsome princes to save them from the architects of evil plans; wicked hags and henchman aplenty. The great Walt Disney may not have invented the fairytale, but he certainly set the world alight with family friendly ‘dream-come-true’ stories that has enraptured imaginations the world over. With a cornucopia of treasured animated tales in its envied library, Disney through the years has become synonymous with fairytale captivating fables.
And so, along comes Enchanted, one of the most delightful cinematic nods of the hat; a film that celebrates and pokes a little fun at the long-standing tenets of the wonderful and winning ‘Once Upon A Time’ tales.
In the animated land of Andalasia, the dulcet Giselle (Amy Adams) dreams about the perfect prince who will one day find her singing with her forest friends in her home among the trees. That day is today as the handsome Prince Edward (James Marsden) hears a beautiful voice happily singing about finding true love and true love’s kiss, and off he gallops on his faithful steed to find the person behind the voice. They meet up and quickly pledge to marry. A quick and happy ending, however, is of course not what fate has in store for these two. Unbeknownst to Prince Edward, his mother, the wicked and selfish Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), ruler of all Andalasia, has plotted to keep Edward from ever finding true love and marrying so that she may cling on to her coveted throne. The evil queen banishes poor Giselle from the fairy-tale land, thrusting her into a chaotic world filled with unpleasantness and a distinctly magic-less reality – the Manhattan, New York of today.
The valiant Prince Edward and Giselle’s Brooklyn-accented, tough talking chipmunk friend Pip (voiced by Jeff Bennett) leap heroically into our world to find the lost damsel among the strange and unfamiliar new land and rescue her.
Lost and out of her element, Giselle stumbles across a kind but rigid and skeptical divorce attorney (Patrick Dempsey) and his daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey) – he shows her kindness by offering her help and shelter until her prince can rescue her and her hopes for a happily ever after can come true.
With energy and excitement, director Kevin Lima, working from a delightful script by Bill Kelly, creates a movie awash with charm, humor and magic. There is pure delight in almost every frame as the story enjoys drawing contrast between the almost utopian animated land and the unfriendly, concrete and steel maze of New York City. Filled with a cast of uncommonly well suited actors for their roles, it is impossible not to be swept up by and fall in love with the enchanting good spirit of this new Disney classic.
As the incessantly up-beat Giselle, Amy Adams is superb. As she sees our world with different eyes, her lovable charisma breathes into those around her and when she breaks into song, she captivates and engages bystanders and workers alike. Adams is to be commended for bringing out sweet comedy from her perfectly innocent and naive princess to be. In another perfect casting move, the popular and good looking Patrick Dempsey plays the role of Robert Philip, a suit and tie pragmatist, very well. He is a great ‘straight man’ to the magical and unusual events unfolding around him. James Marsden, as the true Prince Charming lampoon, is a scene stealer every time he prances into the action, often with his sword drawn and bravado dripping from his chiseled expression. One scene in particular draws an easy grin as he parades across the Brooklyn bridge, in his Princely garb adorned with a statue of liberty hat and an ‘I Love New York’ reusable coffee mug hung around his neck like an Olympic gold medal. Hilarious.
Susan Sarandon as the quintessential wicked queen and Timothy Spall as Nathaniel, the henchman buffoon sent into our world to finish her off, provide two great onscreen baddies. Sarandon’s portrayal is the embodiment of every great fairytales menacing magnate of mayhem and mischief and she seems to be having a great time being that bad. And Spall, befuddled and clumsy here, manages to be more cartoon-like than his Andalasian representation in a vigorous and delightfully hearty portrayal.
Enchanted also boasts a magnificent array of musical numbers, with fantastic songs like ‘That’s How You Know’ and ‘Happy Working Song’ by the long-time Disney partners Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. Each song bursts with energy and creativity and are a wonderful mix of funny, sweet and hopeful.
Enchanted isn’t just a skillfully produced and executed acknowledgement to the wonderful stories that Disney has delivered through the years; it is an absolutely magical movie watching experience that wraps you up in its joy – letting you forget, if just for a short time, the grays of the world. It is an update on Disney’s movie magic while honoring it and leans on the fairy tale traditions, transporting us to a world of wonderment without ever becoming a parody or undermining everything we have come to love about these treasured tales.
Enchanted will live long in fairytale lore and you will find it every bit as funny, romantic and exquisitely lovely as I did.
Walt Disney Pictures waves its magic wand and delivers to us, in its original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1, a flourishing and exuberant image on DVD. From the opening scenes in Andalasia, where the animation is the best kind of homage to pre-digital animation, the colors are rich and vibrant. When the story moves to New York City, the bright lights at night and bright and warm of the day come across very nicely. The image is free from any unwelcome issues (dirt, edge enhancement, unwanted grain) and is exactly what a banner release like this deserves. Anyone looking for a better quality image should look into the Blu-Ray version.
To my surprise and delight, Disney’s release of Enchanted comes with not only a great sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound option, but also a fantastic and immersive DTS 5.1 Surround Sound options as well. So how good is it? Excellent – every channel delivers on this release, from the crystal clear center channel holding all the dialogue, the front channels cleanly produce the wonderful musical numbers, the subwoofer bellows and booms just when it needs to and the surrounds are superbly active, dynamic and positively alive with sound and score alike. This is a great audio accompaniment to the film.
Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Director Kevin Lima - (7:50) – Presented here are six deleted scenes with onscreen introductions by the director. They include an alternate opening sequence which is unfinished and presented in more of an ‘animatics’ version. Some trimming from other scenes can be found here plus a fuller introduction to the character of Nancy (Idina Menzel), Patrick Dempsey’s girlfriend in the film.
Bloopers - (2:10) – Just over two minutes of line flubs and onscreen crack ups.
Fantasy Comes To Life – This extra feature contains three short looks behind the scenes at the creation of some of the films most enjoyable moments:
- Happy Working Song - (6:25) – A peak behind the scenes at one of the memorably signature moments in Enchanted. The complicated musical number involved not only a song and dance routine, but a combination of physical and computer generated effects in addition to the cast of real life rats and birds. The result is a great scene for this Oscar nominated song
- That’s How You Know - (5:54) – Another massive musical undertaking, the fun musical number that takes place in Central Park. This provides a look at the large number of dancers, young and old, who came together to create a throwback to the musicals of the past.
- A Blast At The Ball - (5:27) – And finally, a peak at the creation of the ultimate Disney homage, the spectacle ending that features stunts, lighting and on-set effects plus rigs, cranes, green screen sets and a 35 foot computer generated dragon.
Carrie Underwood’s ‘Ever, Ever After’ Music Video - (3:32) – The music video for Carrie Underwood’s song that can be heard in the film.
Pip’s Predicament: A Pop-Up Adventure - (5:36) – An odd little creation, a pop-up like animated short showing how Pip found, saved and alerted Prince Edward to Giselle’s banishment from Andalasia. It doesn’t have any real flair or excitement and runs a little too long to keep anyone’s interest from waning.
Sneak Peaks - Minute Men, Jungle Book 2, Little Mermain - Ariel's Beginning, Hanna Montana - One in a Million, Tinkerbell, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Sleeping Beauty, National Treasure: Book of Secrets and promo's for Disney Blu-Ray, Disney Parks and Disney Movie Rewards
What a rare delight to watch a genuinely magical modern day fairy tale, a film wholly free from pretensions and too much self-awareness. While Disney hasn’t quite overcome its longstanding problem of failing to represent onscreen the true diversity of the American Landscape, it does provide us with a delightfully innocent tale of pursuing dreams and fighting for happy endings. Sustained by a splendid cast, flawless direction and a script reverent to the great Disney storybook, Enchanted will scoop you up and whisk you just around the corner to a land far, far away.
Note: Also - check out Matt Hough's review of the Blu Ray release of this title here: Enchanted on Blu Ray Review.