New from Solzy at the Movies by Danielle Solzman: Enchanted: A Disney Classic

Mixing animation and live-action storytelling, Disney’s Enchanted is a fun homage to all the the Walt Disney Animation Studios classics.

We start out in the magical land of Andalasia.  This land could be a stand-in for every land ever introduced in a Disney film.  This goes without saying.  It’s here where the evil Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) will do whatever it takes to keep her throne with the aid of loyal henchman Nathaniel (Timothy Spall).  In true Disney lore, she’s the step-mother of Prince Edward (James Marsden).  All he has to do is marry someone and put an end to Queen Narissa’s reign.  This is where Giselle (Amy Adams) comes into play.  Giselle starts singing “True Love’s Kiss,” the two of them meet, and the rest is history.  Or so we think.

The evil queen gonna evil queen and sends Giselle into a faraway place otherwise known as New York.  Lost for a little while, Giselle meets her Prince McDreamy, divorce lawyer Robert (Patrick Dempsey, and his daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey).  While Robert doesn’t see it at first, Morgan certainly does.  Cue the cute and lovable “Happy Working Song.”  Let me just say how much I love this song and appreciate all the callbacks to the earlier animated classics.

The Nathaniel/Edward/Pip B-story can be amusing.  Edward is clearly not made for New York.  At one point, Pip may as well be playing a game of charades with Edward.  To lose one’s voice when they need it the most..not fun to say the least!  Later on when Nathaniel starts questioning is identity, the queen somehow finds a way back into his life!

Even when Robert doesn’t know it at the time, the camera makes sure we–the audience–know it.  The sparks start flying from the moment Robert looks at Giselle sleeping.  When Giselle finally realizes that she loves Robert and leans in for a kiss, he’s the one who walks away.  When the queen poisons Giselle and Edward can’t wake her up, anyone could have seen it coming.  Poor Nancy (Idina Menzel).  She gets a happy ending, too–a massive Disney hit–as the Queen of Andalasia.  I love that Bill Kelly’s script can be a Disney homage and a musical rom-com at the same time.

Disney once again turns to secret weapon Alan Menken, joined by lyricist Stephen Schwartz to take the film into Disney classic territory.  “True Love’s Kiss,” “Happy Working Song,” “That’s How You Know,” “So Close,” and “Ever Ever After” would be a good fit for any Disney film.  That the first three songs poke fun at other songs in Disney history shows why they’re so fun to listen to.  With “That’s How You Know,” Menken isn’t afraid to poke fun at his own material written for The Little Mermaid.

Even if Disney executives were afraid to greenlight the film because of their iconic history, they had nothing to worry about.  Classic characters do need a tune-up every once in a while as evidenced by a scene in Ralph Breaks The Internet.  Disney fans will appreciate the hand-drawn animation that bookend the film.  Enchanted plays into the nostalgia of the older days through such scenes.

One of the reasons why Enchanted works as well as it does is because of the storytelling.  This is a film that weaves animated, live-action, and CGI to tell one story.  Oh, do they ever!  From the Disney-esque storybook opening through the happy-ever-after at the end, this is one big Disney homage!  There are so many moments straight out of earlier Disney films that I have honestly lost count of them.  We can see this through the photos posted on the film’s IMDB page.  I don’t pity the person at Disney who had to collect all of the references.  But that’s all besides the point.  This is a film that is so entertaining because of how they call back all these moments we love.

Led by a stunning performance from then star-in-the-making Amy Adams, Enchanted is the perfect film to join the Disney canon.

DIRECTOR:  Kevin Lima
SCREENWRITER:  Bill Kelly
CAST:  Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel, Rachel Covey, and Susan Sarandon

Walt Disney Pictures opened Enchanted in theaters on November 21, 2007. The film is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital.

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