Monday, December 3, 2007

An "Enchanting" Tale

***1/2 out of ****

"Enchanted" is a classic Disney fairytale from the moment Julie Andrews begins narrating with the line "Once upon a time" to the closing "happily ever after."

A sugary-sweet family treat, "Enchanted" begins as a cartoon in the land of Andalasia, where people break out in song, animals do daily chores, and an evil queen rules the land.

The story starts with Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), who's in fear of losing her royal throne if her stepson, Prince Edward (James Marsden), marries. Edward's "friend," Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) is in on the Queen's plan of thwarting Edward's attempts at love.

While hunting for ogres in the woods, Edward hears a woman singing. The woman is Giselle (Amy Adams), a mash-up of every classic Disney princess. She is so jovial that she can't stop dreaming, smiling or singing to her animal friends. When they meet, it is love at first sight and quickly they are off to marry.

Determined to foil the wedding, Narissa, similar to the queen in "Snow White," transforms herself into an old hag, luring Giselle to a wishing well. But before Giselle has a chance to make a wish, Narissa pushes her down the well, only for Giselle to find herself in a new world. Ours.
Narissa's plan isn't without flaw, though, as Giselle's smart-alecky chipmunk friend, Pip (Jeff Bennett/Kevin Lima) sees it all take place.

Turning now into a live-action film, we see Giselle crawl out of a manhole in New York City.
Frazzled, confused, yet still extremely optimistic, Giselle hustles and bustles her way through the city in her full-flowing princess gown to find her way home with amusing outcomes.

It isn't until she is mugged and wandering through the rain that she meets Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a divorce lawyer who's, ironically, a divorcee himself on the verge of engagement to another woman, Nancy (Idina Menzel). Robert's young daughter Morgan (Rachel Covey) convinces her reluctant father into taking Giselle in for the night.

While Morgan believes Giselle is a real princess, Robert doesn't believe in this fairy tale until he sees his home being cleaned by rats, pigeons and fleas -- the New York version of woodland creatures.

Back in the cartoon world Andalasia, Pip the chipmunk tells Edward and Nathaniel of Giselle's fate, and they too go down the well and through the manhole arriving in New York City.

The dashing but dimwitted Prince Edward wanders around the city to rescue Giselle. This is where the adventures begin with many laugh-out-loud sequences. Nathaniel adds to the comedy while in cahoots with the Queen to thwart the Prince along the way.

Harkening back to classic Disney cartoons, director Kevin Lima ("Tarzan"), keeps a whimisically brisk pace during the 107 minute running time.

Set to Bill Kelly's ("Premonition," "Blast from the Past") clever screenplay, "Enchanted" pokes fun at fairytales, which is a comedic pleasure for both kids and adults. The script loses steam during the finale, opting for a semi-entertaining CGI extravaganza.

Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Junebug," Amy Adams could get her second nomination here, playing the role with bubbly charisma. Adams elevates her role, and the movie, as a few great actresses can.

With a heart-warming message, hilarious songs, and something for everyone, "Enchanted" is nothing short of enchanting.

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