Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007

Enchanted by Romance

By David Luhrssen
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Enchanted by Romance Love and the City November 21, 2007 | 08:59 AM Someone mixed up in the production of Disney's Enchanted had at least one interesting idea. Within the constricted boundary of a comedy meant for children and their sitters, Enchanted wants to say something about romance versus rationality in contemporary love. In the battle between mushy heart and clear heads, Enchanted falls more to the side of the former. An airbrushed fairytale with the darker implications polished away, Enchanted begins with scenes of a magic kingdom drawn in classic Disney animation style with misty old woods and doe-eyed, talking animals. It leaps into live action New York when the wicked witch pushes the clueless princess down a wishing well on her wedding day. Spiraling down the dark shaft, Princess Giselle pops out of a manhole cover in midtown Manhattan. Giselle (Amy Adams) is ridiculous enough in her puffy hoop-skirted gown to draw notice from even the most jaded New Yorker. Fashion aside, she is an innocent lost in the big city, a giddy Hallmark card of sentiment. In the fairytale she comes from, it's easy to believe that dreams come true and love at first glance is forever. Giselle is a heedless romantic, thrust into a world with little time or inclination for romance. Fortunately, she gains the eye of Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a divorce lawyer and father of one who believes that what fools call love should really be a set of rational decisions between two individuals acting in their own self-interest. Understandably, he is prepared to file Giselle under nutcase, but his standard issue, precocious Disney daughter insists, "She really is a princess!" Whether or not she is royalty, Robert begins to acknowledge that Giselle might be at least half right after she gives him a useful tip for his relationship with Nancy, a post-feminist go-getter career gal. Flowers work wonders. Nancy's hard-edged irony dissolves into silken romance at the sight of a bouquet. Question: will Robert get to the source of this useful advice and fall in love with Giselle? For that matter, will his greater scope of experience cause Giselle to rethink her betrothal to the man who had been her one true love, the doltish yet well meaning Prince Edward? The thin air of levity maintained by Enchanted rises from its fish-out-of-water plot. Edward and his unfaithful retainer, in full medieval costume, raise eyebrows as they dash around Manhattan in search of the similarly outlandish Giselle. There are a few funny gags, including the recurring charade by Giselle's pal Pip, the intelligent chipmunk, trying to signal Edward that his servant is really in the pocket of the magic kingdom's evil queen (played by Susan Sarandon channeling Gloria Swanson's mad performance in Sunset Boulevard). Back home in the enchanted forest, Giselle's singing draws all the animals to her side. In New York, this means rats, pigeons and roaches. No matter, plucky Giselle puts the little creatures to work, helping clean Robert's messy apartment. One obvious problem with the message of Enchantment is the messenger herself. Overplayed as a kind of good girl valley girl, Giselle is risible without being especially funny, more annoying than charming. Will kids and their sitters respond to this caricature of old fashioned, storybook maidenhood? Hedging their bets, the writers include a few animal farting and urination gags to pull laughter from children of all ages.
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