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A Handful Of ENCHANTED Reviews From All Over!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. I haven’t read Harry’s review yet, but just that headline convinces me that he’s finally gone and embraced his inner fairy. Not surprising after a super-sweet dose of cinema sugar like this one. Here’s the first reaction from someone who went to tonight’s Austin screening:
Fellas, I just returned from the AICN/Fantastic Fest screening of ENCHANTED...here's what I thought. Actually, I take that back. Here's what I experienced. Fun. Plain and simple. The kind of fun I had when I would be at school on a Friday and the teacher would treat us to a viewing of a classic family-oriented fairy-tale from the Disney library. The kind of fun I haven't really had since I was 8 years old. The film opens in the fashion of classic Disney 2-D animation with all of its gloriously fantastic elements on display; the adorable little animals with simultaneously squeeky and in tune voices, the cottage in the middle of a wonderous forest somewhere outside neverland, and the beautiful damsel at the heart of the story that's incapable of not bringing a smile to your face while she sings her lungs out and waits to be found by her one true love. Then enters, the one true love / Prince Charming (Edward as he's called in this story, James Marsden as he's called in real life) riding the back of a defeated ogre to pass the time until he hears the angelic voice of our heroine (Giselle as she's called in this story, Amy Adams whom we know her to be in real life) from which he must rescue from her confines of a wonderful home and the cutest little creatures to never exist in reality. Why? Because they were meant to be together, and they knew it from the second they heard each other's voice. So what do you do when you've undoubtedly met your one true love? You get married....immediately. But, you know this story. Someone is there, always, to stand in the way of our desire to see our Princess tie the knot with our Prince Charming. Cinderella had to deal with it, as did Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Ariel, etc. Now, it's Giselle's turn. She's confronted by a seasoned witch on par with all the other evil witches of the classic Disney fairy tales. Maybe even more so, as this witch is Susan Sarandon (in real life she's Susan Sarandon, in the story her name is Queen Narissa / Wicked Step-Mother to Prince William, whom you should recall is James Marsden in real life). Queen Narissa transforms herself into a hideous old woman (because they are all trustworthy) and tricks Giselle into making a wish before she enters the chapel to be wed. However, this old woman is not trustworthy, and the vindictive and evil witch that has disguised herself as this harmless, and near toothless, hag shoves our beloved Giselle into the bottomless pit to end up in a world where, "there are no happy endings." Now, where can you possibly thrust someone into where there's no chance for a happy ending? Well, it doesn't exist in any Disney-land. It exists only outside their known world, in another dimension; a third dimension. A dimension with a location known to us as, New York. It's a good thing the witch didn't toss her into Las Vegas, because I've heard happy endings are fairly common there. Sorry, the rest of this will be G-rated. That's the premise in a shell of a very large nut. Essentially, Giselle is to be married to Prince William, which means she will reign as Queen if they tie the knot, which Queen Narissa does not want to happen. So, she sends Giselle into our world, complete with an innocent naivety and never to return to their homeland. While in our world she encounters a divorce lawyer (Patrick Dempsey) who hesitantly takes her in, and begins to relish in the playful and joyous nature of this maiden right out of a children's fairy-tale after an initial feeling of disbelief, as most of us would have if we ever came face to face with a girl acting as if she lived in la-la land. Meanwhile, Prince William cannot sit back and wait for his fair bride to return home, he must rescue her from our hell and bring her back to where she belongs. That's a much smaller nutshell. To give credit where credit is due, and in the order that it should be given, Amy Adams has solidified her position atop the list to become America's Sweetheart. It can't be avoided now. She showed her ability to be effortlessly adorable in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, then raised it to an unreachable level with her performance in JUNEBUG. However, JUNEBUG was just a small indy film that few people saw. ENCHANTED will cure that in terms of getting Amy Adams' face front and center in a studio production so that she can be rightfully enthroned by all. Even those that find themselves not being turned on to this film I doubt will find it in themselves to not praise the work of Amy Adams in this. Her facial expressions, graceful movements, innocent behavior, and every mannerism found in every typical animated Disney beauty is portrayed perfectly by Amy Adams. It sounds almost inuslting to say she's the perfect recreation of a 2-dimensional character, but there's really no better way to say it. And, like many of the great impersonations, her performance goes beyond just mimicking the characteristics of the one being imitated. This is the same kind of performance that caused America to fall in love with Tom Hanks for in BIG. If Amy Adams doesn't receive the same kind of treatment then THAT would be an insult. Along with Adams, huge applause as well for James Marsden, who for the first time I've seen put into a role far outside what he's known for. Well, maybe not FAR outside. He's done the Prince Charming thing quite a few times in his other films (Cyclops, THE NOTEBOOK, SUPERMAN RETURNS) but now he gets to be an exaggeration of those characters. Which means that he has the oppurtunity to have a great deal of fun on screen. And, I can say that James Marsden having fun on screen portraying an egotistically romantic, yet sensitive Prince is easily the most fun I've had watching James Marsden on screen. As perfect as Adams is as a Disney Princess, Marsden is just as impressive as a lavish Disney Prince. Adams receives our hearts and sympathy, but Marsden gets the bulk of the laugh count. I hope to see Marsden stretch his capably comedic wings, as he did here, some time again. The rest of my applause goes to writer Bill Kelly. His acute knowledge of the absurdities of all the classic Disney films goes a long way in giving this film the majority of its charming material. Not because they outright lampoon the whole Disney world, but because they embrace it in full. This is Edgar Wright type of writing in that the creators found a way to both make fun of the films they love, while still playing to the rules of those same films. The love for classic Disney is evident in almost every scene of this movie, and while they make no passes at including jokes about the fairy tale romances they still give you a product that can sit right beside CINDERELLA and THE LITTLE MERMAID in the video store. Even though they place the classic-style Disney characters in our world, they write the film so that we find ourselves falling in love with them, as opposed to them falling apart from us. While they don't hide the fact that the storybook love is fairly unachievable in the real world, they still make you believe, as all the other Disney films did, that romance and true love still have a place in our world in this time that's high on cynicism. It's an uplifting experience with some hilarious full, and partial, musical numbers, amusing performances, and some deft writing that will appeal to any kid, or nearly any adult. In this day and age where films aimed at the very young demographic make it almost mandatory to also include material that's primarily aimed at the adults that have to sit with their kids in the theaters, this film reminds us that you don't have to give adults something adult in order to enjoy it. It doesn't need to have adult-oriented humor. It just needs to be good. Funny is funny regardless of who's watching it, and whether aimed at kids or adults, good is still good. A good kids film should have no trouble bringing a smile to an adult, so long as it's good. ENCHANTED is, at the very least, good. Thanks, THE BEEF
This next guy feels just as strongly about the film, but in the other direction:
Hi there. I saw a preview of Disney's "Enchanted" recently and thought I'd vent. The story of "Enchanted" has all the elements that make up a tale of "classic" dimension: interesting characters with interesting challenges to be overcome, and a briliannt approach that brings the magic of fairy into the real world in a way that, surrendering just a touch of disbelieve, you can buy as plausible. By "plausible" I mean... if fairy tale characters COULD come to our world... this is what it would look like. I said the story of "Enchanted" has these elements. Alas, the MOVIE of "Enchanted" does not. Too much of the movie unfolds in a way that's visually spectacular, but not terribly engaging emotionally. We're told what the character motivations are but we don't see them.. or feel them. It's the classic screenwriting problem of telling us, not showing us. I kept thinking to myself... (which is the first sign that's something wrong wiith a movie)... that Brad Bird could have done absolute MAGIC with a tale like this. In his hands the events of the story would unfold in a way that seemed as inevitable as tomorrow's sunrise. Events and characters would CAUSE action to happen, rather than lines being spouted and incidents occuring 'cause that's what's inn the screenplay. The guy from "Grey's Anatomy" may be dreamy, but he's far less of an actor that this role requires. He can play one note at a time, but this part requires us to see a character who's really torn between his perfectly nice fiance and a new love interest. We don't really see that... I wouldn't have thought there was a ladder tall enough for Susan Sarandon to be so over the top. Godzilla didn't chew this much scenery. The girl who plays the Princess is actually quite good in the role but the Prince is more of a buffoon than an exemplar of nobility. It is interesting to see the way the familiar tropes of Disney cartoons and fairy tales are introduced into the urban reality of New York City, but again... they don't really proceed from the mix of story and characters; they often seem forced. Despite all my reservations, enough is done adequately to make this sufficiently entertaining family fare, but it's frustrating because it could have been so much more. But why should the give us "so much more" when we're willing to settle for less? Sign me... Gruntled Employee
Finally, here’s the last review. Gush or trash? You tell me...
Greetings to the fabulous AICN Crew! I had the opportunity to catch an advance screening of 'Enchanted' last night, and I thought that I would share my thoughts. In a nutshell, it's probably my favorite live-action feature to carry a Disney Banner in a long, long time. It's also the closest thing in tone and quality that they have done to their string with Howard Ashman in the late-eighties/early nineties since then. It's not as good as any of those features were, but I can't hold it against it that it can't hit the marks of 'The Little Mermaid', 'Beauty and the Beast', and 'Aladdin'. Actually, that's a little bit of a lie. I kinda do hold it against Enchanted that it doesn't hit that level of quality. The reason I say that because there is a movie that is THAT GOOD poking around the edges of this movie. It comes so close to greatness in places that I would really like to be able to feel the sort of unabashed enthusiasm for the film as a whole that elements of it deserve. The concept is solid, the structure is solid, the performances are spectacular, but the script itself is flatter and easier in most places than it would need to be to take this to the next level. This movie could have reach Mary Poppins levels of greatness. Instead it settles for being as-good-as/better than Freaky Friday, Pirates of the Caribbean or Sky High. As the previews have told us, Enchanted starts out with an extended 2D animated segment that introduces us to most of our leads. We have our Disney Heroine(tm), Giselle (Amy Adams), her Furry Forest Friends (tm), the Handsome Prince (tm-pending), Prince Edward (James Marsden), the Evil Queen/Evil Stepmother (tm...oh hell that joke was old when I started it), Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), and the Evil Queen/Evil Stepmother's comic-relief toady, Nathaniel (Timothy Spall). The 2D animation here is nicely evocative of all of the 'greatest hits' of Disney's 'Princess' movies. The designs nod particularly towards Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella while the animation style itself stays in keeping with the Post-Ashman era of Disney animation. Add in some pleasant narration by Julie Andrews and if you are anything of a Disney fan, (or have ever been one) the movie will probably win some goodwill points from you straightaway here. These characters (well, only one of the Furry Forest Friends) get transported via a magical portal to modern day NYC and their existing conflicts have to be resolved while dealing with the addition of the usual Fish-Out-Of-Water conflicts. The transition from animation to live action is handled quite nicely with some sparkly FX animation and a shift from 1.85 to Scope helping the movement along. We meet the last of our main characters, the Eligible Widower Not Dealing With His Grief, Robert (Patrick Dempsey), his Daughter Who Needs Him To Move On, Morgan (Rachel Covey), and The Girlfriend Who is Sweet but Isn't Right For Them, Nancy (Idina Menzel). Put all of the ingredients together and you have the kind of formula that makes Studio Execs have particularly messy wet dreams - [Elf + Sleepless In Seattle + Disney Classics = $$$$$$]. Thankfully, the concept and the story progression seem sincere enough that the mathematic predictability of events rarely seems crassly calculated. I think that a lot of the time the difference between something being familiar in a good way instead of crass and calculated in the way that we all look down upon is the degree of earnestness and craftsmanship brought to the material. Amy Adams performance here alone could provide sufficient measure of both to give the movie 'familiar-in-a-good-way' status. Carrying almost the entire film single-handedly on her shoulders, Amy Adams manages to create a 'real life' version of the proto-typical Disney Princess that is true to the simplicity of it's deliberately iconic origins, while also showing layers, complexity, and growth that an animated Disney icon would never have the opportunity to experience. She invests completely in the character and makes the audience believe in her. In many ways it's taking the kind of work that Tom Hanks did in 'Big' and pushing it up to the next level. It's a stunning performance that raises the bar for the level of acting that can be brought to 'family entertainment' and finds the emotional core of what could otherwise be an awfully gimmicky situation. Her performance alone will guarantee that the movie gets a few more viewings from me. The majority of the scenes where she is not at the center are carried by her male counterpart, played by James Marsden. Between his roles in X-Men and Superman Returns he seems to be making quite a career for himself as the 'also-ran'. I've gotta say, I've been feeling more and more warmth towards him since Superman Returns, and this finally sealed the deal - I want to see this guy break into his own as a lead. He can sing, he can dance, he's handsome, he's got some solid acting chops, and he definitely commits to his roles. His character is never quite given the depth or complexity that Giselle gets, but he brings the same earnestness and heart to his portrayal of him that Amy Adams shows in her performance. Because they are playing 'cartoons', and the material is 'light', I think that a lot of people will find it easy to write-off just how great both of these performances are, but make no mistake these are two of the best performances of the year. Sadly, the film itself never reaches the levels of their performances. It doesn't even get close enough most of the time that it can be carried the rest of the way by their performances. It's missing what Jack Donaghy would refer to as 'the third heat'. Right now it's got a great high concept and award-caliber acting. I'm unsure if what it's lacking is something on a script level or something on a production level. There are a couple of points where, like the genius kid in class that's been trying to play dumb so they won't get noticed, suddenly shows that there is real brilliance inside it's head and makes you desperate for them to be that smart all the time. The standout moments that elicited this reaction from me are a scene where Giselle calls out for her Furry Forest Friends to help her clean a NY apartment, and a scene where she puts Morgan to bed. Sadly, the script spends most of the time hiding how smart it is and burying it under a too many predictable, safe attempts at humor. Most of the comedy writing is simply completely flat. The structure is solid and even manages to make me get behind a resolution to the romantic-comedy dynamic that I usually hate, through both careful handling and higher-than-usual stakes. The character writing is solid, and most of the arcs, while predictable, feel earned. Comedy though? Flat as a board most of the time. Flat would be the best way to describe the visual style as well. While the costume and set design are reminiscent enough of the animated world to sell the existence of the cartoon characters within the 'real' world, there is nothing that ever 'pops' visually. The best way that I can think to describe the look of the film is if you got Disney Imagineers to design a very large and expansive 'New-York-Land' for one of the theme parks, and then got the crew from a run of the mill CBS drama to shoot on it. I don't want to slight director Kevin Lima too much because he clearly does great work with actors, but his shot and lighting choices are substantially lacking. As it stands 'Enchanted' does a better-than-average job at being a family movie and/or a fun date movie. I went in with pretty low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised. Strangely, the fact that it was so much better than I was expecting was, in many ways, what led me to be as disappointed by it as my review reflects. I thought that I was going to be getting a nothing movie and instead got a coulda-been-great movie. Ah well. People could do a lot, lot, lot worse for entertainment. I went with my resident 8 year old who really dug it, but hid her eyes during the kissing, and said afterwards that she could have done without that element. The theater was packed, and most people seemed to be having a very good time. If you use this call me 'Xander'.

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