Combustible Celluloid
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With: Amy Adams, Patrick Demspey, James Marsden, Idina Menzel, Susan Sarandon, Timothy Spall, Rachel Covey, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Julie Andrews (narrator)
Written by: Bill Kelly
Directed by: Kevin Lima
MPAA Rating: PG for some scary images and mild innuendo
Running Time: 107
Date: 10/20/2007

Enchanted (2007)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Ani-mating Calls

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Kevin Lima's Enchanted is Disney's first real postmodern kids' film since Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). And although it doesn't fully take advantage of its unique idea, it's still a hugely entertaining, clever comic fairy tale. Most of the credit goes to Oscar nominee Amy Adams (Junebug), who plays Giselle, an animated Disney girl hoping to marry a prince. The film begins as a cartoon, and these scenes do not skimp or fall into parody; they're as beautiful as anything Disney has ever done (Lima also directed Tarzan).

The cartoon prince Edward (James Marsden) rescues Giselle and they fall instantly in love. But Edward's stepmother, a bitter, evil queen (Susan Sarandon), who wishes to hang onto her crown, throws Giselle down a well that leads to live-action, modern-day New York City. Raised in a world of happy endings and helpful talking animals, Giselle can't reconcile what she sees. But divorce lawyer and single dad Robert (Patrick Dempsey) finds her and reluctantly lets her stay on his couch. His girlfriend of five years, Nancy (Idina Menzel) -- to whom he's about to propose -- doesn't approve. And things get more complicated when the prince also arrives in New York, accompanied by a squirrel, and quickly followed by the queen's lovestruck lackey Nathaniel (Timothy Spall).

Nathaniel seems New York savvy right from the start, slipping into disguises, complete with international accents, and Edward is too self-absorbed to notice or care. But Adams plays it just right -- with a hint of Will Ferrell's Elf -- walking a fine line between parody and honesty. Her Disney girl is sweetly naïve, and enormously appealing. She discovers new things with wide-eyed joy, and she actually stretches and squashes her face and body like her animated counterpart (her singing and dancing are likewise flawless). Yet, when it comes time for her to fall in love with Patrick, she accomplishes this, too, and it's a moment as romantic and human as anything this year. This is another Oscar-worthy performance.

Despite all this, Lima and screenwriter Bill Kelly can't avoid the typical three-act movie structure, throwing in a big, useless special effects extravaganza finale even after the story is over. Perhaps the movie could have used some non-Disney perspective. But there are at least three great scenes, the funniest of which is a cleaning-up song (rhyming "hum" with "scum") accomplished with the aid of New York's finest: pigeons, rats and bugs.

DVD Details: Disney's DVD comes packed with good stuff: deleted scenes (with introductions by the director), a blooper reel, featurettes about the making of the film's musical numbers, a music video, trailers and promos, and a kid-friendly "pop-up" cartoon: Pip's Predicament. Unfortunately,

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