Wednesday, March 19, 2008

ENCHANTED (Walt Disney Pictures 2007) Disney Home Video

Despite clever Disney marketing to the contrary, Kevin Lima’s Enchanted (2007) is not so much “an instant Disney classic” as it remains a regurgitation of many Disney classics from the studio’s past; a fish out of water musical comedy – part inspired homage to every fairytale you’ve ever seen/part outlandish lampoon in total overdrive and self parody.

Bill Kelly’s screenplay pickpockets every cliché from the Disney vaults for this rather sumptuously mounted one hit wonder. Once the audience realizes they have been had with a potpourri of snippets stolen from other Disney classics – rather haphazardly stitched together – the amusement comes abruptly to an end.

Deriving its inspiration from a long history of too good to be true heroines, Enchanted incorporates traditional and computer animation to tell the story of an archetypal fairytale princess, Giselle (Amy Adams) ousted from her two dimensional enclave of Andalasia and thrust into the all too real New York City, circa now. Giselle, a commoner cut from the cloth of Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty is sent down the proverbial rabbit hole {Alice in Wonderland} by a wicked hag, a la Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs. The hag turns out to be Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), the mother of Prince Edward (James Marsden) – Giselle’s husband-to-be.

Emerging in New York’s Time Square, Giselle meets divorce attorney, Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey) – his last name the first name of the Prince in Sleeping Beauty and Robert’s young daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey). At first Robert takes pity on Giselle. In his eyes, she is clearly a nut – a suspicion confirmed the next morning when Giselle is discovered making clothes from the drapes that hang in his apartment {The Sound of Music…not a Disney classic but nevertheless an obvious rip off} and performing household chores with a choral of rats, roaches and pigeons {in a scene lifted almost verbatim from Cinderella}.

After Edward follows Giselle to New York Narissa sends her henchman, Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) as a safeguard against Edward learning the whereabouts of his vanished true love. However, while hold up in a seedy apartment, Edward accidentally sees Giselle on the seven o’clock news in a sound byte produced by reporter Mary Ilene Caselotti (Cathleen Trigg) – an amalgam of the names Mary Costa, Ilene Wood and Adrianna Caselotti; the vocal talents for Princess Aurora {Sleeping Beauty}, Cinderella and Snow White respectively.

At first, Giselle is content to await Edward’s return – something Robert believes will never happen. After several mishaps, Edward arrives, but by then Giselle has fallen hopelessly in love with Robert who is engaged to Nancy Tremaine (Idina Menzel) – her character’s last name the same as that of Cinderella’s adopted stepmother and stepsisters, though Nancy shares none of their mean spiritedness.

The whole mess degenerates into a showdown – predictably enough, at a ball - between Robert and Narissa; she poisoning Giselle with an apple {Snow White}, then transforming herself into a fire-breathing dragon {Sleeping Beauty} and escaping with Robert in tow. The ‘big twist’ trumpeted in Disney’s publicity for the film is actually a minor feminist revision on the classic Disney fairytale narrative with Giselle rescuing Robert from the dragon instead of the other way around. Ho-hum.

Composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz contribute a snappy score and several fun songs to an otherwise flat and uninspired mishmash of hyperbole ladled on top of ennui. Amy Adams is featherweight magnificence as the peasant girl with stardust in her heart until she accidentally caresses Robert’s chest and realizes the subtle meaning of more erotic passion. However, it must be noted that both Dempsey and Marsden are ill suited for the film – the former proving a leaden counterpart to Adam’s overtly plucky exterior, the latter playing wide-eyed optimism to extreme and disbelieving farce. Sarandon is wasted in her cameo performance.

In their overzealous attempt to rubber stamp a ‘cute’ moment of camp recollection from every Disney movie ever made both Lima and Kelly seem to have forgotten that the most immortal of Disney classics never relied on self-parody to remind the audience how memorable they were. Instead of originality or clever in-jokes we are subjected to an entire narrative restructured around the very premise that past Disney successes deserve to be dismantled and poked fun at. In the final analysis, Enchanted falls short of its inspired title.

Disney DVD’s anamorphic widescreen release of Enchanted represents a bizarre framing issue. The film is photographed in 2:35.1 aspect ratio, and yet, immediately following its opening animated credits the entire animated sequence is picture boxed at an approximate 1:78.1 ratio that reverts back to 2:35.1 after Giselle has entered the real world of present day New York. Colors are bold rich and vibrant.

However, the image tends to have a less refined characteristic than its Blu-Ray counterpart – particularly in flesh tones that appear flat solid masses of color on the regular DVD release but exhibit extraordinary tonality on the Blu-Ray disc. Blacks are deep and solid on both versions. Whites are pristine. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital with a very engaging sonic spread.

Extras are limited to several deleted scenes, a picture book pop-up game and several ‘fantasy come to life’ featurettes.

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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