I have to say that we were utterly enchanted by Enchanted. In recent years, Disney has been aiming their films more at everyone in the family, keeping it for kids, but with some lines thrown in with a wink and a nod to the adults. In this latest film, they've really brought ought their A-game on that concept, creating an absolutely magical film that is layered in its sophistication, an earnest sweet story that engages the kid in all of us, while worldly adult themes are woven in. Unlike previous films, it's not just an occasional wink to the adults, but there's a whole part of the story that's almost a coming-of-age story, except that it's not about kids growing up (directly), it's about innocent Disney cartoon characters crashing into real world New York City, and gently learning the difference between the cartoon world and the real one. So while the kids are watching the story about the good princess and prince evading the poison apples of the evil sorceress queen and her henchman, the adults are watching an engaging romantic comedy that happens to feature some ripped-from-cartoon characters, and seeing that both the cartoon characters and the "real" ones have something to learn from one another. Along the way, the adventures of an innocent princess and prince in the "big city" are quite amusing, and the semi-earnest, semi-self-parody all-Disney musical numbers are laugh-out-loud funny. I was laughing and grinning ear-to-ear during the Central Park extravaganza, and I split a gut with the apartment cleaning number. The film is very well cast. Amy Adams is pitch-perfect as Giselle, the indomitably optimistic would-be princess who sees the good in everyone, and Patrick Dempsey is perfect as the big-city romance-attracting but commitment-repelling emotionally complicated man (skills he's honed to a fine art on Grey's Anatomy). James Marsden is excellent as the gallant but simple Prince Edward, with his classic good looks, pure resonant tenor, and good physical comic talent. Susan Sarandon is a wonderfully wicked queen, Timothy Spall is amusing as her half-hearted henchman, Idina Menzel does a nice turn as Patrick Dempsey's fiancee (a comic and non-singing role must have been fun change for this Wicked diva), and Rachel Covey charms as Patrick Dempsey's daughter. Bill Kelly's script and Kevin Lima's direction work together flawlessly to balance sincerity and parody, reverence and playfulness. If you have a kid, or if you've ever been a kid, you should go see this clever, witty, funny, sweet story. Truly Disney at their best.
(A footnote on James Marsden: He must have shaved a dozen times a day making this film to be so Disney-princely-smooth! I have to say, I'm quite impressed with his versatility as an actor, from X-Men to Heights, The Notebook to Hairspray, 24 Days to Enchanted, he's really explored a broad range of roles. And it doesn't hurt that he's gorgeous and adorable. Which certainly made him pack an extra charge as a Disney prince come-to-life. For me, and I suspect for a great many gay men, the Disney prince is a powerful archetype. As a child, years before I knew I was gay or understood anything about that, as I watched Disney movies, on some deep subconscious level, I desperately wanted my prince to come someday. A Disney prince is a symbol that resonates deep, so to see one come to life, even in a parodical way, connected with some deep feelings. I would so wake up if James Marsden kissed me!)