Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
N.K. Carter

Enchanted

Recommended Posts

This film got a bit of a mention in the "end of traditional animation" thread, but there's a trailer out now, which I guess means it deserves its own thread.

Honestly, I'm pretty burnt out on the whole "fractured fairy tale" thing, but this seems to be more directly tied to the excesses of Disney Feature Animation than to fairy tales in general, and it might be fun to see Disney show up-- albeit late-- to their own roast. Certainly I'd expect it to be less snide and cynical than Shrek.

In fact, I'll cop to a bit of cautious optimism here. I'll probably show up just for the 20 minutes of big-budget, big-screen traditional animation, regardless of how the film ends up. But I'd have a hard time believing that, after ten years of false starts, Disney's new management would finally push this project from a previous era forward unless there was something to it. Plus, I love Amy Adams and James Marsden (even he looks like he's playing, once again, the "nice but maybe a bit boring" guy in a love triangle.), and as a devotee of WDFA's classic films, the jokes here are probably written specifically for me. We'll see.

Feel free to dampen my optimism. It'll probably be better for me, in the long run.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We just saw this film in Leonard Maltin's film symposium class here at school, and since I don't have to abide by any review embargo or somesuch:

(Fair warning: this film is tailor-made to my interests, so I might be a little biased.)

The first half is incredibly strong, a love letter to classic Disney films that finds humor in their excess with a light touch that's nothing like Shrek's cynicism, although it will inevitably draw comparisons. The big musical sequence in the middle that is pretty much the peak of the film is at once hilarious and warm, charming, delightful; it's been a long time since I've felt as generous an audience response as I did during that sequence.

The second half is a bit more problematic; the momentum flags, and the undermining of some of the earlier conceits seems a bit forced (a friend of mine described it as "PC guilt"). But all in all I don't think any of that's a bad idea. It's the climax that really disappoints, utterly wasting the creativity and charming performances that drive the rest of the film.

But it's only so dispiriting because the first half really is that incredible. Amy Adams is brilliant; Timothy Spall and James Marsden turn in some delightful overacting, and the animation from James Baxter-- oh the animation!-- that opens the film is gorgeous, simply gorgeous, somehow in the spirit of Disney feature animation without being a paint-by-numbers rehash.

I'll probably write more about it later, but for now let me say this: anyone with a fondness for classic Disney should go see it, because when it gets it right, it's absolutely wonderful.

...And also because, if it's a hit, I'm more likely to have a job in three years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some thoughts that don't necessarily constitute reviewing the film:

During one musical number I was reminded of Godspel. The music here is from Stephen Schwartz, but it was more the choreography and setting than the music that hit my memory.

Look for this on Broadway by 2010 (likely before). This is a film that is made with the stage version already in mind.

Seeing this as a promo screening with the Disney machine at work on a day when I spent the morning transcribing an interview with Rev. Billy from the day before, my brain almost exploded. (quote from the interview [in Rev. Billy persona] "Mickey Mouse is the Antichrist, child. Back away from this den of iniquity!")

Edited by Darrel Manson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No opinions on the film, as such, yet, since it doesn't open until tomorrow, I think. But a few fact-based observations:

I had no idea Timothy Spall was in this. Why didn't they show him in the ads? Early on, in the animated sequence, I found myself thinking, "Is that Timothy Spall's voice? The cartoon character certainly kind of LOOKS like him..." I like the idea of an animated Timothy Spall. I want to see an animated Mike Leigh film.

Spall, incidentally, plays a traitor who frequently does battle with a chipmunk. Which reminded me of how, in the Harry Potter movies, he plays a traitor who transforms into another kind of rodent, i.e. a rat.

When James Marsden appears in downtown New York, he is seen standing against a backdrop of billboards, one of which is an ad for Superman Returns, a movie that co-starred... James Marsden. And come to think of it, in both films, he plays the virtuous/noble "other man" who is married or engaged to the leading lady, but isn't quite a match for the film's main male co-star. (This, by the way, makes two movies so far this season that feature Superman Returns alumni in close proximity to the Superman logo; the other such film was Fred Claus, in which Kevin Spacey shares a scene with a Superman cape.)

The opening narration is by Julie Andrews, who of course starred in 1964's Mary Poppins (and, more recently, 2001's The Princess Diaries and its 2004 sequel; every single one of these films was produced by Disney). Then, later on, our protagonist makes clothes out of curtains... just like Julie Andrews did in 1965's The Sound of Music. (A colleague of mine noted that one of the musical numbers even features a shot of Amy Adams running up a hill towards the camera, just as Julie Andrews did at the beginning of The Sound of Music.)

I should also mention that the CGI chipmunk poops in this film, just like one of the title characters does in the trailer for Alvin and the Chipmunks. One more film like this and we will officially have a trend.

Given SDG's comments in other threads about the "normalization" of divorce and single parenthood in family films, I am curious to see what he will make of this film. It is also interesting to see how "family films" almost routinely have to dance around sexual matters these days (think of The Game Plan and the scene where The Rock explains to his agent how it is possible that his ex-wife could have borne his daughter without him knowing about it).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
James Marsden. And come to think of it, in both films, he plays the virtuous/noble "other man" who is married or engaged to the leading lady, but isn't quite a match for the film's main male co-star.

Same in The Notebook, too. It's the Bill Pullman effect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The part I liked in the film was Stephen Schwartz's lyrics ("Happy Cleaning Song" is a wonderful parody). The bad news is that unless you really pay attention, they just fly by.

Overall, I found it a mixed bag. My review definitely reflects how much Rev. Billy was in my head when I watched the film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I had no idea Timothy Spall was in this. Why didn't they show him in the ads?

They did-- kind of. He shows up in a few shots in the "Villians" featurette that's on Apple.com right next to the trailer. Not exactly top billing or anything, but still.

When James Marsden appears in downtown New York, he is seen standing against a backdrop of billboards, one of which is an ad for Superman Returns, a movie that co-starred... James Marsden. And come to think of it, in both films, he plays the virtuous/noble "other man" who is married or engaged to the leading lady, but isn't quite a match for the film's main male co-star.

Same in The Notebook, too. It's the Bill Pullman effect.

You could also make a case that he has a very similar role in X-Men. True, Jean "chooses" him, but he's still very much the virtuous/straight-laced/boring guy whose girl is tempted by another seemingly more interesting character. And if you wanted, you could say there were psychological implications in

Phoenix killing Scott

in X-Men 3. But that might be taking that movie too seriously.

I didn't see Hairspray; did he have a similar role there?

I should also mention that the CGI chipmunk poops in this film, just like one of the title characters does in the trailer for Alvin and the Chipmunks. One more film like this and we will officially have a trend.

As much as I loved this film overall, those irrelevant bits of toilet humor do grate. Though I guess that could be a "Disney tradition" these days, too. Sigh.

The more I think about this film, the more I think it's actually a thoroughly enjoyable and brilliantly opportunistic piece of advertising. The class I watched this with was overwhelmed with nostalgia for traditional animation and the classic Disney of their youth. And what will we be seeing trailers for next year? A new traditionally animated Disney princess film.

Well-played, Disney; well-played.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When James Marsden appears in downtown New York, he is seen standing against a backdrop of billboards, one of which is an ad for Superman Returns, a movie that co-starred... James Marsden. And come to think of it, in both films, he plays the virtuous/noble "other man" who is married or engaged to the leading lady, but isn't quite a match for the film's main male co-star.

Doesn't Marsden ALWAYS play "the virtuous/noble 'other man' who is married or engaged to [or living with] the leading lady, but isn't quite a match for the film's main male co-star"? Besides Superman Returns (and Enchanted), see also the X-Men movies (where he's cohabitating with Jean Grey, but not quite a match for Jackman's Wolverine) and also The Notebook (where he's engaged to Rachel McAdams, but not quite a match for Ryan Gosling). Any others?

P.S. Looking at my Superman Returns review, I see I noted that Marsden "seems to specialize in decent but less exciting romantic rivals for the movie’s alpha male." Looks like Enchanted continues that trend!

Edited by SDG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was actually just talking with my brother yesterday about James Marsden in both Superman Returns and the trailers for Enchanted as playing the same character.

In actuality the more I think about it, I wish Marsden would have been cast as Superman...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In actuality the more I think about it, I wish Marsden would have been cast as Superman...

!!! People would start to wonder whether he really could shoot beams out of his eyes...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

N.K. Carter wrote:

: : I had no idea Timothy Spall was in this. Why didn't they show him in the ads?

:

: They did-- kind of. He shows up in a few shots in the "Villians" featurette that's on Apple.com right next to the trailer.

Pfeh. Internet stuff. I meant the trailer(s); I haven't seen anything else for this film.

: I didn't see Hairspray; did he have a similar role there?

Thankfully, no!

: : I should also mention that the CGI chipmunk poops in this film, just like one of the title characters does in the trailer for Alvin and the Chipmunks. One more film like this and we will officially have a trend.

:

: As much as I loved this film overall, those irrelevant bits of toilet humor do grate. Though I guess that could be a "Disney tradition" these days, too. Sigh.

And let's not forget the dog that pisses on someone's leg. I am vaguely reminded of how, around the turn of the millennium, the newest Star Wars and Jesus movies (the ones with Jar Jar Binks and Jeremy Sisto, respectively) both included people farting and/or stepping in poop. This standard was lowered a LONG time ago. But still.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
P.S. Looking at my Superman Returns review, I see I noted that Marsden "seems to specialize in decent but less exciting romantic rivals for the movie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
P.S. Looking at my Superman Returns review, I see I noted that Marsden "seems to specialize in decent but less exciting romantic rivals for the movie’s alpha male." Looks like Enchanted continues that trend!
Agreed. But I suppose that is the whole premise of this film - that fantasy/sensitive males are not nearly as attractive as a real/alpha male - just as the fantasy tale with happily-ever-after promises is not nearly as exciting as a real story with the possibility of lost love.

Huh, interesting. I've not yet seen Enchanted, but based on what you say, it sounds like the Marsden Triangle Principle gets parsed differently here compared to Superman Returns. On the spectra of "real/fantasy" and "sensitive/alpha," in Superman Returns Superman combines "fantasy" and "alpha," and I guess Marsden combines "real" and "sensitive" (at least he's the reliable family guy Superman can never be). And in that movie Lois winds up with Mr. Real/Sensitive, not Mr. Fantasy/Alpha.

Whereas it sounds like you're saying in Enchanted "fantasy" correlates with "sensitive" (Marsden?) rather than "alpha," and "real" correlates with "alpha" (Patrick Dempsey?) rather than "sensitive" -- and do I gather that the heroine winds up with Mr. Real/Alpha rather than Mr. Fantasy/Sensitive?

If so, I think I prefer the way the MTP plays out in Superman Returns.

Addendum: In the X-Men movies, I guess Cyke and Wolvie are equally "fantasy," but certainly Wolvie is alpha and Cyke is sensitive... and overall I would say Jean seems to choose Mr. Sensitive, even though she feels the attraction of Mr. Alpha. I would tend to count that as a positive parsing of the MTP. In The Notebook I guess Gosling and Marsden are equally "real"; but I don't remember it well enough to confidently assign alpha/sensitive alignments. Gosling's aggressive date-seeking at the fair certainly suggests alpha, but his letter-writing campaign goes a long way toward sensitive too. Yet I remember Marsden's character as a sympathetic, decent guy probably sensitive in his own right. At any rate McAdams certainly winds up with Mr. Alpha there. Based on the film as a whole, I would count this as a negative parsing of the MTP.

Edited by SDG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Whereas it sounds like you're saying in Enchanted "fantasy" correlates with "sensitive" (Marsden?) rather than "alpha," and "real" correlates with "alpha" (Patrick Dempsey?) rather than "sensitive" -- and do I gather that the heroine winds up with Mr. Real/Alpha rather than Mr. Fantasy/Sensitive?

And the alpha female opts to return with the fantasy guy to Andalusia

I wouldn't characterize Prince Edward as sensitive. More like cluelss and self-absorbed. It is the Depmsey character who, in spite of the cynicism he's meant to represent, shows sensitivity and compaasion. He does, after all, rescue Giselle that first night in NYC.

BTW, Out here in the dessert for Thanksgiving, I drove by a sign for Andalusia. Apparetly it's in Indio. Now I can really be cynical about that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wouldn't characterize Prince Edward as sensitive. More like cluelss and self-absorbed.

Ah, another FFT comeuppance for Prince Charming, a la the Shrek sequels and Happily N'Ever After. Hooray.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ah, another FFT comeuppance for Prince Charming, a la the Shrek sequels and Happily N'Ever After. Hooray.

Not... exactly. While it's true that Edward is clueless and self-absorbed, I think most of that has to do with his inability to imagine much outside of his traditional paradigm; he's not malicious or unlikeable as in Shrek. In fact, I think Marsden manages to make him strangely charming. And besides, the end of the movie

isn't a total wash for Prince "Charming."

This movie is more sympathetic to fairy tales than I think you're imagining.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

N.K. Carter wrote:

: Not... exactly. While it's true that Edward is clueless and self-absorbed, I think most of that has to do with his inability to imagine much outside of his traditional paradigm; he's not malicious or unlikeable as in Shrek.

Yes... I think he is more absorbed in the fairy-tale paradigm as a whole, and his role WITHIN that paradigm, than he is in anything else. When he finds Giselle in the park and he leaps off the bridge and begins singing, completely oblivious to the cyclists who are about to crash into him, it is because he cannot fathom a world with cyclists and so on. He simply has no frame of reference for that.

I was actually very impressed with Marsden's character in the climactic scene. When

Giselle bites the poisoned apple, and Marsden kisses her, he discovers that HIS kiss is not the "true love's kiss" that Giselle needs in order to wake up. But does he fight this discovery? Does he resist passing her off to the Dempsey character? Not at all -- instead, he immediately asks a somewhat startled and hestiant Dempsey to kiss Giselle, because this will save Giselle's life

. This, to my mind, made Marsden an appealingly valiant figure, and anything but "self-absorbed".

True, Giselle is better able to adapt to the world around her; she has more inquisitiveness, more curiosity, and that becomes especially clear in the scene where she goes on a "date" with Prince Edward, hoping that they can "talk about themselves" the way that people do in the "real" world. But if memory serves, Marsden DOESN'T talk about himself all that much in that scene -- he humours Giselle and goes on this "date" with her, but he doesn't have a clue what people are supposed to DO on "dates"; and if he WERE all that "self-absorbed", he could probably have spent that whole date boasting about himself and his accomplishments (battling trolls, etc.), but instead, he just doesn't really have much to say. For Prince Edward, the "roles" that people have in fairy-tale land are pretty clear and distinct, and all you have to do is fulfill them. But for Giselle, as she gets to know more and more about the "real" world, this shallow acceptance of one's "role" is no longer enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This, to my mind, made Marsden an appealingly valiant figure, and anything but "self-absorbed".

Absolutely. I read Marsden's Prince Edward very much as constructionist, not deconstructionist. It just so happened that his ideal match allowed him to return to his world, while Giselle's ideal match left her in this one. The key was who they were "meant" to be with, fated to be with: Very classically fairly taleish.

Just noticed that the star-rating on this thread doesn't at all seem to jive with the general tone of the discussion. What's up with that? Only three people have voted -- and other than Darrel, everyone seems to have pretty high opinions of this one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We won't really know until five people have voted. A 4.0/5 covers quite a lot of ground....

Aha! When I posted, only three people had voted and the stars showed as 3/5. Since then, one other vote has been cast and it's now up to 4/5!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It is the Depmsey character who, in spite of the cynicism he's meant to represent, shows sensitivity and compaasion. He does, after all, rescue Giselle that first night in NYC.

Not to be picky but I would not say he rescued Giselle but his daughter did. He was kind of "stuck" with her because of his daughter's innocence and compassion.

Denny

Edited by Denny Wayman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
: Not... exactly. While it's true that Edward is clueless and self-absorbed, I think most of that has to do with his inability to imagine much outside of his traditional paradigm; he's not malicious or unlikeable as in Shrek.

More like Patrick Warburton's "clueless and self-absorbed" Prince in Happily N'Ever After, then? However, if Edward turns out to be "appealingly valiant," then he does indeed transcend the debunking of Prince Charming in earlier FFTs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×