Queen Narissa: And they all lived happily ever after. Well at least I did.
Beware: Spoilers may follow
The world of Disney is a very vast one indeed composed of different stories, genres, and so forth. However Disney has rarely been one for parody especially with itself. While there have been somewhat of poking fun at problems of previous Disney movies in their recent movies there has never been a full-fledged Disney movie focused on parodying the usual Disney tropes. That is where the animated-live-action hybrid movie Enchanted comes in. And it not only works as a parody but also as its own movie.
The story is that about a young woman named Giselle (Amy Adams) who lives in the world of Andalasia. After being saved from a troll by a prince named Edward (James Marsden) the two fall in love and decide to marry each other. This does not sit well with Edward’s evil stepmother Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) who will lose her throne if Edward gets married. Narissa disguises herself as an old hag and intercepts Giselle on her way to the wedding and pushes her down a well, which transports her to the live-action world of Times Square, New York. While there she meets a single father named Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and his daughter Morgan (Rachel Covey) who decide to take her in. While there she learns a little bit more about reality and that there’s more to life than a usual fairy tale. Edward upon learning of Giselle’s whereabouts finds himself in New York along with Narissa’s bumbling henchman Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) who is intent on stopping him and eventually, Narissa herself winds up there intent on killing Giselle herself after Nathaniel fails to do the job twice.
On the one hand, the story is predictable in that we know Robert and Giselle will end up together. But what makes it unique is that the message goes both ways. It’s not just Giselle spreading positivity into Robert’s life but also Robert implanting a dose of reality into hers. Scenes such as the dance between Robert and Giselle at the ball say so little yet so much through their expressions and body language. We are not only seeing the world of animation and live-action but we are also experiencing it. The end of it all truly gives a heartwarming feel of both the respect and acceptance of fantasy and reality alike.
The parody is also very nice particularly with Giselle hilariously summoning forest critters through singing. The songs also seem to take delight in poking fun at the usual Disney tropes many viewers are used to which makes them fun to listen to.
The comedy is also outstanding. James Marsden as Prince Edward gets several laughs through his entire time journeying through New York in search of his “love.”
Amy Adams’ performance as Giselle shines throughout the movie. Her performance truly makes you believe in her innocence, romance, optimism, and her convictions throughout the movie and even as she develops she still retains that innocence and optimism in a completely believable and likable manner. She would start out as a woman dreaming of fairy tale love but over the course of the film she would learn a mix between fairy tale and real love. Despite being a cartoon she would learn to be a real person as the film went on.
Patrick Dempsey as Robert is also very likable. In many ways, he is the opposite of Giselle. He’s very cynical and doesn’t believe in love much less fairy tales. Yet at the same time, you don’t find yourself hating him for it. You truly see him as a man trying to provide his daughter with a loving but realistic life. And through some well-thought-out conversations about their ideals between him and Giselle you see the two slowly understand one another and fall in love.
Susan Sarandon as Queen Narissa true to the movie’s intentions embodies the traits of several past female Disney villains including the Evil Queen, Maleficent, and Lady Tremaine and she does a good job at channeling all of them.
If there is one real flaw sometimes the idea of parody idea does at times get a tad too heavy-handed. This is particularly dominant in the climax when Giselle is battling Narissa in the form of a dragon with Narissa constantly referencing the “damsel in distress” and the “twist on the story.”
Despite having some predictability and some heavy-handed dialogue Enchanted truly is an underrated gem in the world of Disney. It has likable leads, unique storytelling, and good comedy that make it worth sitting through. True to its title this movie truly will enchant you.