It’s Christmas, the season of eating more food than necessary, doing sod all, and watching guilty pleasures at the cinema. And so, with nary a glimmer of self consciousness, I strode into a toddler-filled cinema with my adult friends to watch a Disney film. It’s what all the cool kids do. I’m almost positive.
Enchanted is just what a post-Christmas afternoon needs. Easy on the eye, simple to understand, quietly charming and occasionally amusing. An experience akin to playing Junior Pictionary with Orlando Bloom. Listen with a fraction of a brain cell as he explains the rules in a big, clear voice. Gaze at his curly hair flopping over his simple face. Chuckle as he accidentally eats one of the crayons. It’s what Christmas is all about.
Anyway, Enchanted sees the story of Giselle, a typical Disney princess who lives in a wood, is friends with animals, likes to sing and falls in love with a big bland prince. But the prince’s evil stepmother chucks Giselle into a magic well (bear with me..) and sees her emerge into “a world without a happily ever after”. That’d be our world, then. Poor Giselle is transformed into a real person and plonked into New York (oh look, New York as the setting for a film! Wow, what a pleasant change) where people don’t really like each other, don’t break into song and certainly don’t believe in happy endings or true love. A bit bleak for the tots, but it’s good to expose them to the reality of life. That’s Robert’s philosophy too, as a divorce lawyer who’s also a single parent. He ends up taking Giselle in until her “prince” will come to save her, and your typical fish-out-of-water hilarity ensues.
Rather than poke blatant fun at Disney clichés ala Shrek, this film embraces them and gives them a little twist. So Giselle’s wildlife friends are distinctly more urban in her new world, and when a musical number breaks out, Robert questions how it’s possible that everyone can know the words to the song. But there are no big winks to the adults - this is a predominantly child-friendly film, and much more rooted in the genre than the more grown-up flavours of Ratatouille, or the dummed-down science of last week’s aggravating Golden Compass. The animated segments are cheapo bargain-bin quality and lack real humour so prove a little tough to sit through, but it’s the performance of Amy Adams’ Giselle that’ll win you over in the real world. Wide-eyed, wide-smiled, with a child-like innocence and yet conflicting emotional core, it’s easy to see how the lovely Patrick Dempsey’s Robert could fall for her. James Marsden also strikes gold, swapping his yawn-fest performance as Cyclops for the hammiest prince in the land.
There’s some refreshing thoughts dealt with in what is essentially a child’s rom-com. Robert says you can’t fall in love straight away, but he falls for Giselle - true love does exist afterall! Hurray! But, Giselle had originally fallen for her prince. Can she just write that off and say this new love is now the real-deal? What happens with the next dashing man she meets? I think Robert needs to seriously sit down and consider the ramifications of his relationship, not to mention the hurt it will have caused his weird-jawed girlfriend of five years. Did those five years mean nothing to him? Can he just flush them all away for a mentally-challenged homeless person who wandered into his house?
Ok, maybe I’m looking too deeply into this, and I may have just trampled over the entire sentiment of the film. But hey - it still made me smile, I had one of the songs stuck in my head for a day and any film showing Patrick Dempsey in a half-open bath robe is a winner in my book. Sweet, silly and uplifting (if you don’t dissect it to pieces) there’s no doubt this is a pure kiddy film through and through. But if you’re after an Orlando-Pictionary moment, and don’t have access to either, then this is a great alternative for a lazy afternoon. Enchanted notches up a CF0, but imagine the rating all pink and fluffy and tasting like sugar. Seriously.