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I read a newspaper review this morning that referred to this movie as a 
parody, and that surprised me. I don't think it is a parody of the genre, and 
certainly not a satire. Even the opening cartoon sequence is 
without being self-referential or snide. It's like an authentic princess movie 
from fifty years ago. That was a relief to me because I didn't want to see 
Disney mock its own fine, sincere movies simply because the time for that style 
is past. I think the film is something more subtle than a parody, and 
ultimately more interesting and mature. It takes the cartoon characters on 
their own 
terms, and then gently bridges to the kind of reality that the children in the 
audience are going to face. It gets them on board with the "True Love's Kiss" 
convention, and then teaches something the other princess movies did not, that 
love at first sight is not usually the way it goes, usually you have to get to 
know someone first. That's a very useful lesson. I really liked this movie, 
and so did granddaughter Hannah (now 7); she decided it replaces "Ratatouille" 
on her list of favorite movies.
on a totally different subject, I thought today abt the folks at Disneyworld 
who dress up as Goofy and Mickey Mouse, and it occurred to me that those 
characters have not appeared in a Disney production for decades. Do young kids 
know who they are? What would they make of Goofy? Strange. 
I'm going to try not to gush, but it's hard when a movie is this delightful. 
"Enchanted" is even more than that, it's original--lovely, fresh, funny, and 
charming to a princely degree. And this is where you and I can start to lose 
each other, because there's no reviewer so smitten as the one who expected to 
endure a so-so movie and was surprised to find something really very good. 
Gratitude produces a review with a rosy glow, but if you read that review and 
buy a 
ticket expecting to see the best thing next to "Citizen Kane," you could well 
be disappointed. It's the very same movie, but it depends on where you're 
coming from. That gap between discovery and verification is a communications 
hazard for readers and writers of all kinds of reviews. I know all that, but I 
can't help it. "Enchanted" knocked me out.  
This is the latest in a long, long line of "princess movies" from Disney, as 
anyone with a daughter under 7 can wearily confirm. It begins stylishly, 
lingering on the Disney logo of a moonlit castle, and then the camera zooms 
in through a tower's high window. In that room there is a big old book with 
"Enchanted" on the cover, and the pages begin to turn just as in the prologue 
many older movies. But this time it's a *popup* book, and the folding and 
sliding planes, the dazzling angles, give that old convention a jolt of new 
They had me at hello.  
"Enchanted" starts where other princess movies end: within the first ten 
minutes, Prince Edward and Giselle meet, fall in love, and prepare to be wed. 
the prince's wicked stepmother, Narissa, fears losing the throne, and tricks 
the lovely Giselle into standing within shoving distance of a magic well.  
Till now, the movie has been in the form of classic animation. But as Giselle 
falls she undergoes a transformation, turning into a real flesh-and-blood 
young woman (Amy Adams, suiting the part to perfection). She comes to rest on a 
mysterious disk which is pierced with holes, through which light comes 
streaming. The image rotates, and we realize that she is looking up, not down, 
daylight coming through the holes on a manhole cover. Giselle shoves the lid 
and struggles out--she's wearing her wedding dress, with an immense hoop 
skirt--into the middle of hectic Times Square.  
I knew that this was going to be a story about fairytale characters trying to 
cope with city life, and I was stoically prepared for a brassy, cynical romp 
on the order of "Shrek." But it isn't that, and it isn't the opposite, an 
oldstyle princess tale, either. "Enchanted" is a whole new thing. Giselle in 
York is kind of like Forrest Gump: she's naïve to the point of absurdity, and 
yet you come to feel that she's the one who has things sized up right, after 
Amy Adams couldn't be better in this role, with a cheerful innocence and 
kindness that remain absurdly unshaken, no matter what she encounters. She 
shelter her first night in the apartment of a world-weary divorce lawyer, 
Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and his young daughter Morgan (a very able Rachel 
In the morning Giselle decides that the place needs a good cleaning, and opens 
the window to call the wild creatures to help. But the appeal isn't answered 
by bluebirds and bunnies; from all across the city, rats scurry from sewers, 
pigeons lumber into flight, and a swarm of flies lifts gracefully from a street 
vendor's cart. Giselle is only momentarily surprised by their arrival, then 
sets all her new friends to work. Cockroaches quickly nibble away a bathtub's 
grime, and three of the crunchy critters perch on Giselle's finger as she sings 
to them a "Happy Working Song."  
That's an example of the film's careful balance: it references classic 
moments in the earlier princess films (surely you recognized Snow White's 
While You Work"), but without falling either into cynical parody or vacant 
replication. Allusions to earlier films keep showing up--I particularly enjoyed 
seeing the entire Snow White-Wicked Witch poison apple dialogue enacted 
wordlessly by a chipmunk--but they are kept low-key enough that they don't snap 
us out 
of the flow of the story.  
This is a thoughtful story, actually. Stout-hearted (but empty-headed) Prince 
Edward (James Marsden) dives into the magic well to seek his true love, 
Giselle, and after many trials the pair are reunited. But is he really her true 
love? Against his will, Robert has been awakened to something fresh and joyous 
Giselle. She's been awakening too; we see her briefly but profoundly 
distracted by a glimpse of Robert's chest, and the very subtlety of that moment 
it more punch than hours of more graphic entertainment.  
There's a surprisingly overt anti-divorce message, too. When Giselle visits 
Robert's office, she approaches an estranged couple and begins praising the 
wife's beauty and sparkling eyes. Robert tries to hush her, saying that it's 
a good time for the couple because they are separating. "Oh, how long will 
they have to be separated?" she asks sympathetically, and then tears spring to 
her eyes: "Forever and *ever*?" Robert murmurs to her to hush because they're 
pain, and she says, "Of course they're in pain--they're being separated 
forever!" By now, the husband is dabbing at his eyes. Later in the movie the 
reunited couple reappears, now quite cuddly. The wife delivers this forthright 
"Everybody has problems, everybody has bad times. Do we sacrifice all the 
good times for that? No."  
I would run out of space long before I finished detailing everything I 
savored in this movie, from Marsden's princely style, to the immense 
routine in Central Park, to the concluding bits which tell us "the rest of the 
story," staged as popup pages even more astonishing than those at the start. 
Only a couple of things missed the mark. There's a noisy CGI sequence near the 
end in which Narissa (Susan Sarandon) turns into a dragon and climbs a tower; 
it had a hyperventilating quality and wasn't as original as the rest of the 
film. And it struck me as depressing, even tawdry, that when the story wants to 
show the growing bond between Giselle and little Morgan, it doesn't show them 
roller-skating or visiting the zoo, or even watching a princess movie; it 
shows them on a shopping spree. When Giselle needs a ball-gown fast, Morgan 
"I have something better than a fairy godmother," and pulls out a couple of 
gold cards. After that comes a sprightly montage as they go in and out of shops 
accumulating more and more shopping bags, laughing, laughing, hideously 
laughing. It was like something out of Edgar Allen Poe.  
We're about to get run down by the biggest shopping weekend of the year, 
coming hard on the heels of Thanksgiving. Avoid the crowds at the cash 
and head straight for the movie theater, and give a little thanks of your own. 
If you have kids in your house, take them to see "Enchanted," but if you 
don't, go anyway. They'll be there already, and their laughter will further 
this movie for any but the sourest grouch. "Enchanted" is like that: 
Frederica Mathewes-Green

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