Saturday, November 19, 2022

Enchanted (2007)


In the literally animated land of Andalasia, Prince Edward (James Edward) finds his bride and future queen in Giselle (Amy Adams), your stereotypical Disney princess who has a fondness for singing and talking to animals. This does not sit well with reigning Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), the prince’s wicked stepmother who does not plan on losing her crown anytime soon, which is why she enlists the help of ever-loyal servant Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) to get rid of the princess wannabe. She leads and pushes her down a wishing well where she emerges on the other side of the human world as a human being, in the middle of busy Times Square. Despite not being an animated character anymore, her out-of-this world demeanor eventually leads her to divorce lawyer Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey), a single dad to daughter Morgan (Rachel Covey) and soon to be married to his fashion designer fiancee Nancy Tremaine (Idina Menzel). Soon, polar opposite beliefs about love collide. Will these two get their happily ever after?

What’s fun about modern classics like this is that watching them when they were first released and then watching them again after a decade and a half guarantees rather different takeaways as your maturity level changes. Enchanted is perfect for this kind of tracking your evolution through cinema because it presents two very different views on love: one that is anchored on the romanticized fairy tale version; and another one that is pretty much grounded on the cynicism of daily life.

Being a young adult when I first saw this 15 years ago, I must admit that I identified more with Giselle’s point of view. When you are young, you tend to be idealistic and naive, and this is how you make mistakes in life that, in turn, give you the experience that you require to survive. 15 years later, I obviously relate more to Robert’s pessimism in general. At the end of the day, the bottomline is that a healthy balance between the two is what is deemed to most likely achieve a successful modern love story.

What stands out in this film and what you will remember even after so many years have passed is the soundtrack. The accolades agree, with three songs being nominated at the Academy Awards, which was an unparalleled feat back then. The songs did lose to Once’s Falling Slowly, which is iconic on its own, but it does give you an idea of what Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz can do to spruce up a film’s score and soundtrack. Who can forget that iconic “That’s How You Know” production number at Central Park? Seriously?

On the other hand, “True Love’s Kiss” and “Happy Working Song” are as Disney as they can be, playing more into that peculiar live action and animation divide that makes this material shine even more. My personal favorite, though, is definitely the underrated ballad “So Close” that can make even the most disillusioned person swoon in a soothing rendition oh so beautifully sung by Jon McLaughlin. These songs are probably to blame as to why this movie has been so well-received despite being not your typical Disney flick.

Of course, we also give credit where it’s due. This film would’ve been a disaster had they not found the right Giselle, and Amy Adams is perfect. She looks like a Disney princess. She sings like a Disney princess. She totally embodied this role and played it without hesitation. At the end of the day, this is Giselle’s movie, and Adams IS Giselle. In hindsight, the box office success and popularity of this film helped boost her career and put her name out there after her Oscar-nominated but relatively unknown role in Junebug. Birth of a star, it is indeed.

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