By Vic Holtreman
Short version: As close as you can get to a family-friendly, live-action satire of Disney animation, made all the better since Disney itself made the film.
I mean who among us has never seen at least a couple of Disney animated films when we were kids? The fun of this film is watching how it manages to poke fun at Disney movies and the fascination comes from how they did it without being the slightest bit mean-spirited about it.
Enchanted opens with a traditional 2-D animated sequence that could fit into many old Disney movies: Pretty young girl, singing and dancing with a bunch of woodland creatures, all helping her to build a mannequin of her Prince Charming. The actual prince hears her singing, makes his way to her and within minutes they decide they're in love and prepare to be married.
Of course there's a wicked stepmother involved who doesn't want the prince to marry our heroine, Giselle. Giselle is pushed down a well and ends up in the real world, in Times Square, NYC to be precise. Her overly perky, happy demeanor is very out of place in New York City, as you may well imagine. She doesn't know where to turn and is rescued by a cynical divorce lawyer (played by Patrick "I'm the latest, hottest romantic leading man" Dempsey), who with his young daughter take her in temporarily.
Dempsey's very matter of fact fiancee is none to happy about finding gorgeous Giselle at his apartment the next morning, and that becomes one of the dramatic conflicts in the movie. I don't think I'm spoiling anything at all by saying that Giselle ends up with the lawyer. :-)
I won't go into the plot any more than that, other to say that it pays tribute to many Disney cartoons and if you keep a sharp eye you may notice them sprinkled throughout the film. Susan Sarandon was great as the evil stepmother, with my personal bias having me thinking she was perfectly cast.
The great thing about this film is how it takes the animated 2-D world and transposes the characters into reality to let us see what would happen. It was hysterical to see what it would look like if actual birds, insects and other critters came into an apartment to help clean it up. Also very funny was James Marsden as the prince, with his stuck up nobility and attempts to break out into song in Central Park.
The only thing that knocked off half a star for me was a scene where bystanders in the park break out into a synchronized song and dance scene, which took me out of the fish out of water tone of the film. Outside of that, it was great fun and I think that if you set aside any preconceived notions about watching a Disney movie about a prince and princess you might just find yourself enjoying it. If you're a parent you can happily show this one to your kids with no reservations whatsoever and you'll all have a good time watching it.