What little girl didn’t love the Disney Princesses? Cinderella, Snow White, and Belle were all standard characters for my generation. As we all got older, however, we realized that “happily ever after” and “someday my prince will come” weren’t exactly realistic life aspirations. Enchanted is a movie that explores that notion without completely destroying the idea of true love.
Giselle (Amy Adams) is a happy young lady waiting for and dreaming of her prince. With her happy little woodland friends, she lives in a happy little tree in the happy little forest and waits for a charming prince to come along and make her his bride. The prince does indeed come (played by James Marsden), and of course he has an evil step-mother (Susan Sarandon). The prince and Giselle are set to marry, which sends the evil step-mother into a panic because if the prince marries, she loses the crown. The evil step-mother poses as an old hag and shoves Giselle down a wishing well, which empties into the busy streets of Times Square in New York City. This is when the movie switches from the familiar cartoon setting of a Disney fairy-tale and joins the reality of live-action.
Giselle tries to find her way back to the castle, only to experience New York at its worst – people shove her, yell at her, and a bum steals her tiara. Along comes Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and his daughter Morgan (Rachel Covey). They take Giselle home – Robert because he thinks she’s crazy and needs help; Morgan because she believes Giselle is a real fairy-tale princess and needs their help to get back home.
The rest of the movie is spent watching Robert try to explain to Giselle that true love isn’t as easy as she thinks it is, Giselle trying to find her prince, and the prince trying to find Giselle, all while the evil step-mother is trying to prevent the two from finding each other (why, with poisoned apples, of course!). While it does seem a little contrived, it knows it’s contrived. It uses fairy-tale stereotypes throughout, not as plot points on their own, but to showcase how silly it all is. In the end, of course, love prevails, but not before a royal ball and a battle with an evil dragon.
It’s definitely a movie to watch with the kiddies, and as a young woman who grew up watching Disney princess stories, it’s a nice semi-grown-up version of a familiar tale. Dempsey is dashing as the man saving the damsel in distress. Amy Adams is positively bubbly. Susan Saradon is beautifully wicked as the evil step-mother. It’s a happy movie for a rainy day.
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