Amy Adams as Princess Giselle
Patrick Dempsey as Rob Philip
James Marsden as Prince Edward
Timothy Spall as Nathaniel
Rachel Covey as Morgan Philip
Susan Sarandon as Queen Narissa
Idina Menzel as Nancy
Jeff Bennett as the voice of Pip the Chipmunk (in Andalasia)
Kevin Lima s the voice of Pip (in New York)
Julie Andrews as the Narrator
When Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) meets her one true love, Prince Edward (James Marsden), she unknowingly upsets the plans of the evil Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) who tries to get her out of the way by sending her to the most terrible place in the universe… New York. A simultaneous celebration and send-up of the traditional Disney fairy tale, “Enchanted” is a uneven family film that’s not too far off Disney’s recent tries, but still hits more often than it misses.
Long-time studio director Kevin Lima (“Tarzan”) has had a lot of experience with this particular kind of filmmaking, both in animation and in live-action, and “Enchanted” uses all of it, beginning with a ten-minute traditionally animated introduction to the fantasy land of Andalasia a mixture of several Disney film creations. “Enchanted,” like a lot of family films, has a tendency to veer into overly saccharine territory and the Andalasia sequence is probably the worst of it. By the nature of its premise, the animated characters are supposed to be caricatures more than characters, but that knowledge doesn’t make the early going any easier for anyone over the age of 10 to sit through. Yes, it’s supposed to be that way, but it’s hard not to think the film might have been stronger if they had created a real, if short, Disney world rather than an (annoying) imitation of one.
The film doesn’t really start until Giselle makes it to New York and meets divorce lawyer Rob Philip (Patrick Dempsey), followed quickly by the rest of her animated cast and some of the old Disney standbys animals that help with the cleaning; random musical numbers that naturally leave many of the real world people scratching their heads. “Enchanted” is rich in Disney iconography, the best recipient of which is Susan Sarandon as the wicked Queen. She, and the film in general, really benefit from a stellar production team that create the feeling of a classic Disney film in the real world. She gets to play a crone with poisoned apples and transform into a monstrous dragon, and seems to be having a ball the entire time. She’s not in the film enough, it really belongs to Amy Adams, but she really gets into the spirit and it shows.
Adams herself has the difficult job of being naïve and worldly in equal measure as she gets more and more used to the strange place she’s found herself in, but for the most part she’s up to the task, although sometimes a little bland and often the focus of the most saccharine moments.
But the best performance has to belong James Marsden (“Hairspray”), who has probably the most ridiculous dialogue in the film which he has to deliver with complete sincerity and not a hint of irony. The result could be unbearably ham handed, but in Marsden’s hands is often funnier than it should be.
The film has got its problems –Timothy Spall’s Nathaniel and Pip the Chipmunk tend to be the most uneven in the film. Occasionally they’re quite funny (even if they tend not to follow any steady narrative rules), but just as often they’re a bit too much to take, and Dempsey’s straight man is extremely dull. The humor isn’t always funny either.
Still, it’s charming more often than its not, surprisingly so, and if the characters are a little flat, there’s still a decent idea in there, as well as the continuing empowerment of Disney heroines. As far as family films go, you could do a lot worse than “Enchanted” and for Disney aficionados, it’s more than a decent way to spend an evening.