Wednesday, March 26, 2008

 

Snow White and the Boro of Manhattan

By Edward Copeland
Full of charm with froth to spare, Enchanted doesn't cast an unbreakable spell on a moviegoer, but it does provide more than enough entertainment to pass the time.


Amy Adams' deceptively simple performance as Giselle, a would-be princess from a 2D fairy tale dimension who finds herself sent to New York by an evil queen (Susan Sarandon) determined to hang on to her throne and prevent Adams' marriage to her stepson (James Marsden), the heir to the cartoon kingdom.

By their very nature, fairy tales are a bit retro, but that aspect of the film is nearly as retro as the portrait of New York it paints. It's as if it's set in the '70s or '80s instead of now, where everyone is cynical, all parts are filthy and no one helps anyone out. It's especially odd to see a grimy Times Square in a Disney film that barely shows the Disneyfication that has happened to the fabled area.

While it's true that New Yorkers probably wouldn't bat an eye at a clueless young lady in a huge flowing gown traipsing through Times Square, that's still the part that kept me at a distance.

Robert, the lawyer who reluctantly helps Giselle (Patrick Dempsey), is painted as insanely pragmatic and cynical, yet he doesn't seem to be bothered when he sees packs of rats, pigeons and cockroaches helping to clean his apartment. (I did wish that Danielle Ferland's Little Red Riding Hood in Sondheim's Into the Woods would show up at some point to ask quizically, "You talk to birds?")

There is a brief mention of problems associated with Giselle having no evidence of existence (birth certificate, Social Security number, etc.), but his transformation is even less convincing than Giselle's and would be the film's least acceptable character switch if it weren't for the late-inning change in Robert's girlfriend (Idina Menzel).

Despite these reservations, Enchanted entertains despite itself thanks largely to most of the performances. Adams is pitch perfect and makes her subtle change entirely plausible without losing her character's essential essence.

Marsden also has fun as the 2D prince and it's probably the most fun Sarandon has had on screen in ages. There also is solid support from Timothy Spall as the prince's helper who is secretly in cahoots with the queen.

Overall, Enchanted was enjoyable fluff despite its anachronistic mocking of the best city in the world. Of course, I'm partial to New York, even though I'm cynical enough to accept that happily-ever-afters are rare, even there.


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Comments:
Well, you know where I come from, and I didn't think it was mean to NYC at all. In fact, I think Disney's actual destruction of Times Square is meaner than anything done to it in this movie. I liked this movie more than you did. I bought a copy of it and watched it again last night.

We both can agree on the performances, though. Amy Adams is wonderful and deserved that Oscar nomination more than Cate Blanchett, and I love the scene where Timothy Spall (a favorite of mine) calls the talk show to seek advice on Sarandon's queen.

Growing up where I did, if I saw the rats and roaches cleaning the house, I wouldn't be upset either.
 
Don't get me wrong. I did like the movie. It just bothered me that the characters from the "real world" seem to have less dimensions than the ones from fairy tale land. I didn't think it was being mean to New York, just that at first Dempsey's character acted like he was from an older version of the city. He understandbly thinks Giselle is a nutjob, but there really isn't much in the way to explain his turnaround or Menzel's abrupt decision to do what she does other than for movie symmetry.
 
you're response to it's take on NYC is interesting for sure.

I agree the performances are good, especially Sprall, Adams, and Medoza.

But honestly i was disappointed in Marsden and Surandon...Adams put them to shame.
 
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