Written by: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Before discussing Disney’s latest semi-animated endeavor Enchanted, I feel I should put all my cards on the table, and reveal my relationship with the company. I’m a huge fan; I remember going to see Aladdin, the Little Mermaid, and the Lion King as a child. Even as I grew up, I still made sure to go see almost every film of theirs that came out. In recent years, almost everyone has heard about the issues going on in the “Mouse House,” from the huge campaign to oust former CEO Michael Eisner, to the dismemberment of traditional animation. Since then the Mouse has tried to restore some of its credibility, and it recently reopened its traditional animation unit and has been hyping many upcoming projects that are to be fully 2-D animated.
That brings us to Enchanted, the “test”, if you will, to see if 2-D still has an audience in today's Shrek and Pixar world. This film has been in the works for years. It was originally prepped for the big screen back in 1997 based on a script by Bill Kelly. According to JimHillMedia.com, this film is actually the result of four failed previous attempts, with the original plan being that our fairy tale princess would end up at a bachelor party, be mistaken as a stripper, and fall in love with a married man. Yeah, not exactly Disney material in my book either. A trailer for the film has just been leaked on the net and is set to be run with the soon-to-be-released Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. In looking at this trailer and in reading the script, there is definitely something to be “enchanted” about.
The story itself opens like all traditional Disney fare, with a singing fair maiden discussing her need to find her one true love, in this case her city's own Prince Edward. Through a series of cliched though cute events, Prince Edward meets and falls in love with our heroine, Giselle, and soon they are to be wed. All should be happily ever after, except Edward’s mother Queen Narissa doesn’t want Giselle anywhere near the crown, so she (Narissa) transforms into an old crone and pushes Giselle down a “wishing well” that dumps the girl into un-animated New York City. In going through the city, getting rained on and having no place to “rest her head,” Giselle gets help from a man and his young daughter. The good Samaritans, divorcee Robert and his six-year-old daughter Morgan, take Giselle in for what should be a night. Instead Giselle ends up overstaying her welcome through some very hilarious scenes. Robert can’t seem to figure out why this girl is so happy but through meeting her he starts to question his own love life with his very busy girlfriend Nancy. As these two start to bond Prince Edward decides to follow and find Giselle, while Queen Narissa does everything in her power to keep the two apart. With all this happening the film doesn’t stray from the message of, “Is true love possible in our world?” and “What do you do when you find it?”
Throughout my reading of Enchanted there were several moments when I actually smiled, laughed, and almost cried. If a simple script can do this, imagine what the fully rendered movie will do! This film is destined to be a classic, pure Mouse down to the core, and the praise belongs to Bill Kelly for making the script so enjoyable. From the opening scene, you fall in love with Giselle’s simple nature and as she starts to find herself through the story, you find yourself rooting for her and hoping that she finds true love, even if it’s not the “fairy tale” definition. The film is also incredibly fast-paced. There were really no moments that dragged or took away from the story as I was reading, for a movie intended for children, this is a very good trait to have. The script I read also seems to be fairly accurate to the finished product; I noticed that a lot of dialogue from the trailer could be found in the script. If this turns out to be true, then I would have no problem whatsoever recommending Enchanted for families to see during the holidays.
In looking at the actors picked to portray their characters, I think that the decisions made were great. Young Amy Adams of The Wedding Date is an excellent choice as Giselle. Adams has that innocence that makes you see her as naïve, though not stupid. Giselle has been ingrained with this notion of “happily ever after” and the script has a great scene that exemplifies this when Robert, a divorce attorney, has to explain to her why his client wants a divorce. Her emotional breakdown in the film should be hilarious. Grey’s Anatomy’s Dr. McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) is nothing short of perfect casting as the role of Robert. Dempsey can pull off that father figure who wants his daughter to grow up with realistic expectations, not silly ideas that a prince will take her away. Sadly it seems that the secondary cast, consisting of James Marsden, Idina Menzel, and Susan Sarandon are really all second fiddle to the two main characters.
I also have to give props to Disney for allowing some of the more suggestive material into the film. Mind you, I don’t know what the film is going to be rated (I would think PG), but there were definitely a couple scenes that you might have to explain to the kids, such as the fight that ensues when Robert's girlfriend catches him in the bathroom with Giselle wearing nothing but a towel. Other than that, the film is incredibly family friendly, though I just loved that there was something for adults.
My only issue with the script is that the Mouse is doing a hell of a job to keep the original songs under wraps. The composers of the film, Disney legends Alan Menken and Stephan Schwartz, contributed several songs. One of these, Giselle’s “Happy Working Song” is being deemed a Disney musical classic. Sadly, the script simply states when she sings this, it doesn’t supply lyrics. The trailer itself does not even give but a glimpse of the songs. I understand that the company wants to keep an air of mystique, but give a little something to the fans!
No one can truly guess how well Enchanted will do until it hits theaters on November 21st. Personally, I cannot wait to see how director Kevin Lima turns this amazing script into a movie. If he does even a halfway decent job, then anybody who believes in fairy tales or true love should find themselves simply Enchanted.
Author: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Kristen Lopez is the editor-in-chief of CC2K and a freelance pop culture essayist. Her work has appeared on Roger Ebert, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Daily Beast. When she’s not burning down Film Twitter she runs two podcasts, the female-centric film show Citizen Dame, and the classic film-themed Ticklish Business.