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Review

Disney misses the mark with fairy tail spoof ‘Enchanted’

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November 29, 2007

It is hard to determine at first whether “Enchanted,” Disney’s latest flick, is a fresh new family friendly flight of fancy or a recycled patchwork quilt of ideas hijacked straight from the scraps of the Disney vault. Its overly bubbly, innocent as possible, perfectly wrapped package of sappy good feeling points to the latter. 

Part fish-out-of-water tale, part romantic comedy “Enchanted,” opens in very familiar territory: Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) finds her dreams coming true, heading towards her wedding to Prince Edward (James Marsden).

The snag is that Edward’s evil mother and Queen (Susan Sarandon), refusing to lose her crown to the peasant-turned-princess, ensnares Giselle and sends her tumbling down a magic well to a place “where there is no such thing as ‘happily ever after!’” 

This intriguing twist finds our Princess abandoned not in some animated forest, but in the jungle of flesh-and-blood New York City. Prince Edward follows in an attempt to rescue his beloved, but not before Giselle meets Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a somber and cynical divorcee doing his best to smother his own disaffectioned heart of gold.

By now, kids and adults alike should know exactly where this is headed. Pages are neatly ripped from nearly every other Disney Princess classic in order to write this brand new yet incessantly familiar tale.

There is the romantic boat ride from “The Little Mermaid”, “Sleeping Beauty’s” dragon, a bevy of helpful animals “Cinderella” style, and even a trio of poison apples supplied by an old hag disguised Queen a la “Snow White.”

Director Kevin Lima condenses over 60 years of Disney lore into a concentrated shot of parody that he injects one too many times. As he tries harder and harder to spoof his source material, Lima begins to suffer from Stockholm syndrome.

“Enchanted” is such a spot-on caricature that its satire is mistaken for the real thing. Kids will delight in this cozy prosaic interpretation, but adults may find themselves wanting.

At least the gussied up talent here acts as glue that holds this lampoon together. Susan Sarandon brings insidious flare to the obligatory evil stepmother role, and Marsden is a treat to watch as he floats around a living mockery of Prince Charming.

Adams steals the show, however, becoming a pitch-perfect manifestation of an otherworldly symbol of sugary sweetness. Adams’s personification of her cartoon counterpart is so impeccably flawless that viewers can’t help but fall head over heels for this leading lady. Thanks to Adams, Giselle should be joining her fellow Princesses at theme parks very soon.

The only real mar to an otherwise admirable cast is Dempsey. He lulls around the screen in such monochromatic hues that it becomes painfully obvious why he is a single father.

Disney, once the pinnacle of originality and connoisseur of fairy-tales, has fallen from grace of late. Their newest overbearing exploration of whimsy tries too hard to force contrived cheer down your throat.

At first the taste is surprisingly good, but soon turns sour, as what started as an original fairy-tale confection caters to every cliché Disney has ever cooked up.

Ken Weigend is an alumnus of UW-River Falls. He was editor of the Student Voice during spring semester 2010.