Reviews

Enchanted

Giselle (Amy Adams) has the ideal animated life.


Enchanted

Director: Kevin Lima
Cast: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Susan Sarandon, Idina Menzel, Timothy Spall
MPAA rating: PG
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
First date: 2007
UK Release Date: 2007-12-14 (General release)
US Release Date: 2007-11-21 (General release)
Website
Trailer

Giselle (Amy Adams) has the ideal animated life. Friends with woodland creatures, in love with a handsome prince she's just met, she lets loose with exactly the right tune, all about "true love's kiss," shared only by true lovers. The fact that she lives in a fairy tale and so, not exactly poised to be a true anything, doesn't occur to Giselle. Surrounded by bluebirds and bunnies, she's so charming and cheerful, even the local troll loves her.

Her primary admirer, as the start of Enchanted, is Prince Edward (James Marsden, expanding his born-to-play range from X-Man to Corny Collins to straight-up cartoon, or maybe the second coming of Cary Elwes). On hearing Giselle's warbling with her animal friends, he comes charging on his majestic steed, harmonizing away: "You were made..." he sings, pausing for her to fill in, "To finish your duet!" Yes yes yes, she's made for him and she's perfect. Indeed, she's a bit too perfect, according to Edward's mom, the acutely named Queen Narcissa (Susan Sarandon), who determines that she's not ready to give up her throne to this peasant. Instead, she sends her off to another world, "a place where there are no happily ever afters."

That would be a world inhabited by flesh-and-blood cartoon characters, in a time approximating your own. When Giselle pops up (after a long fall down) through a manhole cover in Times Square, she makes the transition easily, never believing for a second that this new location is any less magical than the kingdom of Andalasia. The hard-hat guys who see her emerge -- all fancy white gown and glittery tiara -- are moved to help her, but can't fathom how. "Lady," asks one, "Are you for real?"

In another movie, this might be a central question. But in Enchanted, no one much cares. Giselle is both perky and resolute, banging on the faux door of a billboard for the "Palace Casino," unable to see differences between real and not. In this, she's like six-year-old Morgan (Rachel Covey), who believes in dragons and princes and especially princesses. This frustrates Morgan's dad, a divorce attorney named Robert (Patrick Dempsey), who hasn't forgotten that Morgan's mother abandoned them, or that every day in the office he sees couples no longer (if ever) in love and seeking vengeance. Because of all this tragedy, it appears, he's reluctant to propose to his girlfriend Nancy (Idina Menzel), his equal professionally and cynically. (Or so he thinks: in Enchanted, all the girls want flowers and fancy-dress balls and men who will indulge their culturally-constructed femme aspirations.)

Dad's determined to keep Morgan on a practical track, and so to save her from heartache and disappointment. To that end, he's given her a Great Women in History book instead of the fairy tales she wants. And to that end, he doesn't speak with her about her missing mom or his own desires. When he suggests he might be marrying Nancy, Morgan is polite, but unhappy. There's something uncozy and unfanciful about Nancy, which is, of course, exactly why dad likes her: she's a business proposition for him, a deal he can count on. Morgan is more inclined toward Giselle, whom her father rescues as she falls off the Palace billboard. Though Robert worries about her seeming disorientation, Morgan delights in it: she's a real princess, Morgan enthuses. Right, Robert sighs.

As you have access to the realness, you can share in Morgan's sense of enchantment. Giselle is indeed adorable, and Adams -- as she was in Junebug -- is a fearless and fetching performer, embracing generic restrictions with infectious abandon. Robert's job is decidedly dull: he will watch her dance and sing and cavort with urban creatures, misinterpreting her gifts and eventually warming to her charms.

The steps in his emancipation are banal, but buoyed by Giselle's irrepressible bliss. Following a night sleeping on Robert's couch (he brought her in from the rain, following his gallant catch), Giselle wakes full of energy and gratitude, as well as habit. Prone to clean with the help of her critter friends, she calls out as she would usually and initiates the film's most amiable set-piece, as she and the available creatures -- rats, cockroaches, and pigeons -- dust and scrub and tidy up the apartment. On waking, Morgan is thrilled that her dreams have seemingly come true. Dad immediately sets to herding the rats and bugs out the front door.

Such colliding fantasies comprise the substance of Enchanted, which develops the theme by bringing along several other cartoon figures into the Big City. Each has a problem adjusting --- Edward can't stop hauling out his word and presuming his ownership of Giselle (who slowly but surely discovers her disconcertingly nurturing affection for the needy boy Robert), Narcissa and her loyal henchman Nathaniel (Timothy Spall), and a chatty chipmunk, now digitized. While the latter, losing his ability to speak English in the flesh-world, offers up some entertaining pantomimes in efforts to reveal the Queen's scheme, for the most part, Giselle is the film's fundamental source of energy and light.

While it's not surprising that Morgan has this right from the first moment she spots the princess, it's a little disappointing that the movie loses sight of this completely engaging girly friendship in order to follow the more conventional romance. Giselle's force-of-animated-nature audacity permits her to transcend one ending and rescue by her true lover, in order to achieve another, more explicitly girl-powery end, and even set the stage for happy endings all around. But all that fairy-taley wrap-up is decidedly less wonderful than Morgan's insight and gumption. Surrounded by calculated Disnifications, she's both imperfect and convincing, Enchanted's most irresistible fantasy.

6

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
popular

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image