So this may come to a bit of a surprise to some of you readers, but despite being a fan of Disney, Enchanted was one film that I haven’t seen before until recently. I wanted to watch it during its theatrical run back in the fall of 2007, but during that time I was living in Japan and there were some films that were difficult to watch and this was one of them. Before I sat down to watch it, I posted on Facebook that it was my first time seeing this film. The responses that I got back were all positive with some saying that it’s really good and another one saying that they’re not sure if I’d like it. Did I like? Well let me explain the plot and then we’ll find out.
For those who aren’t familiar with Enchanted, it is a hybrid of both traditional animation and live-action, and the movie opens up with traditional animation as well follow Giselle (voiced by Amy Adams). She’s a young maiden living in the kingdom of Andalasia where she dreams of marrying a prince and living happily ever after. One day she’s given that opportunity to marry a prince, Prince Edward (voiced by James Marsden), and they “fall in love” and plan to wed the next day. This upsets the prince’s stepmother, Queen Narissa (voiced by Susan Saradon), because once her son weds she would have to relinquish her status as queen. Fortunately for the stepmother she has a magic well, which she uses trick Giselle into going into it. She then ends up in our world through a manhole in New York City. From there it’s a fish-out-of-water story featuring Giselle trying to reunite with Prince Edward while navigating through the concrete jungle with the help of a divorce lawyer named Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and his daughter Morgan (Rachel Covey).
After watching Enchanted I would be lying if I said that this is a Disney classic, but I can say in full confidence that this was a pleasant surprise. I only wish I’d seen sooner instead of waiting almost thirteen years. But as the old saying goes, better late than never.
What made Enchanted work for me was the structure of the film. The first ten minutes is nothing but a cliché of past Disney animated films, which was something I suspect the director was going for because the film itself is somewhat of a parody of those films. This is extended during the New York parts of the film, which is done in a clever way that I deeply appreciated. There’s one scene in particular where Giselle is with Robert in central park and she breaks into song with a couple of musicians. Once they sing along with her he questions “wait they know the words too?” which got the biggest laugh out of me. Another scene in particular that worked for me was straight out of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Enchanted borrows the part where Snow White cleans the house with cute and cuddly forest creatures, replicating that moment but instead with creatures that you would find in New York City (i.e. rats, pigeons, cockroaches, etc.). This trend continues throughout the film, with the ending flipping the typical Disney troupe while at the same time paying homage to other classic Disney films such as Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.
The biggest takeaway I got from Enchanted was not just the importance of love, but how it’s earned. Unlike God’s love for us which is unconditional. Human love is something that grows overtime and it’s only with the right person. However, Giselle believes that love is something that can happen instantly and while this works in her home world, the real world, unfortunately, doesn’t function that way. This leads to Giselle rethinking the idea of love. This part was of the film was a much needed element as there are tons of Disney films that make love a convenience for the main protagonists. That has always been a problem for me.
Now I could end my review of Enchanted here and call it a day, but I feel like I wouldn’t be doing my job as a critic if I didn’t state any problems that I had with this film, and there were some that bothered me. One in particular that I couldn’t ignore was how Giselle and Edward got through the city without any financial support. I’ve been to New York plenty of times. During those trips I have always been hungry for currency, and yet they were able to go on a date and check into a hotel without any money. This may sound like I’m nitpicking but it’s something that I notice in other films of this type, and it’s starting to become a pet peeve of mine. Another complaint of mine (and this is also minor) is how the movie does have moments of predictability in it.
As mentioned before, Enchanted isn’t exactly an ultimate Disney classic but it’s a fun film that earned my appreciation due to the self-aware humor and clever use of homage from previous Disney films. When I was looking up information for this film I discovered that a sequel is underway and while I’m not sure when it’ll be released, it’ll definitely be something that I’ll check out during its theatrical run. Also surprisingly, the film is not on Disney +. Still worth a view, though, if you can find it.