Enchanted is one of those movies where you almost have to appologize when you tell people that you love it. Colleagues raised their eyebrows and inquired: "Wait, isn't that a kids movie?" while friends shrugged and said: "It's that same type of girlie princess stuff you always try to recommend to us." But even when I frown at most girlie princess stuff (I had to turn off that Barbie Mariposa animated drivel I was sent to review five minutes in, luckily my daughter didn't mind), Enchanted is just a lovely, funny and very likeable movie I can see myself watching over and over again. The highlight of the film is maybe even the animated seven minutes in the beginning, which looks so great I cannot wait for The Frog Princess to come out next year.
So let's get the girlie princess stuff out of the way: Giselle is a regular girl living in the countryside in an animated world. Animals love her, and whenever she starts singing they gladly do anything for her that she wants, which is more or less in keeping with Disney princess tradition (take Cinderella for instance). She is hoping that one day a prince will come to swoop her off her feet (Snow White) and lo and behold, up rides Edward, who immediately falls in love with the girl and asks her to marry him.
Edward's mother, Queen Narissa, is not so pleased. The thing is that she will have to leave the throne on the day her son gets married, and so she disposes of Giselle by throwing her into a wishing well. This well leads to our non-animated New York city, where Giselle has to find a way to get back home, to her prince. After a bewildering first few minutes, she runs into the real world's very own McDreamy, Patrick Dempsey, who plays Robert, a single man living with his daughter. This Robert is a man who only believes in hard work and punctuality, and who plans on proposing to his girlfriend when it's convenient to do so, not because of some silly little thing called love. Giselle is shocked, like Robert is shocked when he hears Giselle agreed to marry Prince Edward on the first day they met. Meanwhile, Edward is on his way to rescue Giselle, followed by Giselle best friend Pip the squirrell, as well as his personal aide Nathaniel, who has been ordered by the princess to get rid of Giselle before she finds her way back.
The fun part of this movie is not just the way it gently makes fun of Disney fairy tale conventions. As a matter of fact, Giselle is so lively and loveable that you cannot help but take a shine to her old fashioned thoughts about love and romance. The biggest fun comes from the way the main actors completely throw themselves into their roles. I had never seen Amy Adams in a movie before, but after seeing this, I cannot wait to see her again. She's really like a fairytale princess come to life, and I can understand why everybody in this movie falls head over heels in love with her. And James Marden is an unexpected surprise as Edward. Normally, he gets handed the 'other man' roles, and even though that is basically also what he gets here, he still has so much fun with his role that you almost feel like you are watching Cary Elwes let loose in Princess Bride again. He's terrific, and I hope to see him in this type of role more often. Patrick Dempsey is his usual charming self as Robert, while Timothy Spall is his usual smarmy self in the role of Nathaniel. And Susan Sarandon clearly had a ball acting the role of evil queen, even though her role isn't as big and menacing as you probably would expect. Most of the attention in this movie is focussed on Giselle, and you cannot really blame the director for that when you have such an amazing lead.
The movie is littered with in-jokes and catchy songs (not too many, luckily), and will cheer up even the grumpiest of gusses. It is a shame, maybe, that in a movie this refreshing, the ending is so expected. I had a discussion with my wife halfway through the movie, during which I predicted to her how the movie would end, and she more or less made fun of my predictions, expecting a bit more originality from the filmmakers than that. I hoped she was right, but alas, I was right, which was a bit of a downer. Not a big enough downer, however, to make me lose the wonderful mood I was in after consuming this fluffy bit of cinematic cotton candy.