The old Disney magic is back with "Enchanted," a truly delightful spin on the traditional Disney princess-in-distress tale.
Spoofing such saccharine princesses as Snow White, Cinderella and Sleepy Beauty comes the latest Disney mademoiselle to don a big poofy dress. Giselle, born with all of the innate talents which any Disney princess must possess - the ability to attract cute furry woodland animals with her dulcet voice, an alarmingly trusting nature and the tendency to fall prey to the machinations of evil old crones - has met her one true love, the dashingly handsome and dismally dull Prince Edward.
"Enchanted" begins in the far away magical cartoon kingdom of Andalasia where Giselle (played by the very comical Amy Adams) is getting ready to wed her beloved Edward, heir to the throne of Andalasia (James Marsden, "Hairspray) after meeting and falling deeply in love with him the day before. However, the evil stepmother, Queen Narissa (played by the delightfully wicked Susan Sarandon) doesn't want to share her crown with the upstart interloper Giselle (surprise, surprise).
So like any well-respected Disney villain, she pushes Giselle into an inter-dimensional wormhole which spits the helpless maiden out into live-action modern-day Manhattan. Much to the poor Giselle's surprise and dismay, the denizens of New York City are not receptive or caring of her plight. All hope seems lost for our Disney damsel until she is rescued/grudgingly assisted by divorce lawyer Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey, "Grey's Anatomy") and his six-year-old daughter Morgan (newcomer Rachel Covey.)
Hilarity follows as Giselle tries to adjust to life in the real world. Comical high points include a scene where Giselle tries to repay Robert's kindness by recruiting all of Manhattan's animals (cockroaches, rats and pigeons) to clean his apartment much to his dismay and a musical number in Central Park where street performers and park employees alike break out into a spontaneous song and dance routine.
While basically formulaic, "Enchanted" turns the old Disney script on its head by making fun of traditional Disney fantasy stereotypes - the Prince Charming character is a buffoon, Giselle's helplessness is kind of annoying and the most heroic character in the film is a talking chipmunk called Pip.
"Enchanted" also caters to 21st century sensibilities which weren't present in earlier Disney princess tales of the mid-20th century. The evil stepmother cartoon has pronounced cleavage, there is the veiled mention of premarital sex and Morgan takes karate lessons.
Most rewarding to see is Giselle's evolution from a two-dimensional cartoon whose only thoughts are of finding her one true love and figuring out what dress to where that day to a three-dimensional character who begins to question her whirlwind romance with Edward. By the end of the film Giselle has ceased to be a damsel in distress and has taken control of her fate while at the same time imparting some very important life lessons to Robert on the power of love.
"Enchanted" is rated PG for some scary images and mild innuendo and has a running time of 1 hour and 48 minutes.