Cynicism be damned. “Enchanted” is a wonderful movie.

Dave Mekelburg
Even the pizza is good. (COURTESY OF DISNEY)

The target audience for the film is allegedly the young-child-with-parent set, as almost all Disney films are. But here’s the thing: This is a family-oriented film that everybody can enjoy, a rare treat that goes beyond the trappings of Disney’s often contrived magic to become an ironic, clever and intelligent fantasy.

Giselle (voiced and realized by Amy Adams, “Junebug”) is the fairest lass in all of Andalasia and is engaged to the dashing young Prince Edward (James Marsden, “Hairspray”). They inhabit an animated world in which they know they’re animated. Giselle, if betrothed, will usurp the throne of the wicked Queen Narissa (a devilish Susan Sarandon), and Narissa must kill her with the usual instruments of poison apples and bonehead assistants. Sounds Disney enough, but here’s where it gets clever.

To keep Giselle out of the way, the evil Narissa pushes her into a fountain that’s a gateway to a terrible and far, far away place that no cartoon sweetheart would ever be prepared to handle: New York City, in real life.

This is where the movie, despite its best efforts to be super-sap kiddy fare, becomes a smart and loveable fantasy. By taking the endearing naiveté of hand-drawn animation and the simpletons inhabiting it and transferring them into a real-world context – especially one as complicated and dense as New York – “Enchanted” becomes something special.

High concept aside, “Enchanted” has a great sense of humor and a progressive female lead. Snow White could talk to animals, and Giselle can, too. But when she’s in New York, she gathers a series of rats, flies, cockroaches and pigeons to clean for her. Ariel could get her sea friends together to sing a song about the ocean, all the while tapping your toes without question. Giselle gets almost all of Central Park to participate in an absurdly spontaneous and choreographed event that even the most curmudgeonly person will love.

You want to hate Walt Disney and all its happy bullshit, but “Enchanted” isn’t bullshit. It’s something weird that we don’t get much these days in movies. We don’t scoff – we laugh with the movie. We believe in true love. Usually these films aren’t for everyone – you might enter wanting to hate it – but it’s undeniably fun.

Playing with the notion of being obnoxiously obtuse in a materialistic world, Adams, the film’s heart, does something rare. She makes you love her. Delightful and sincere, Adams turns 60 years of sexy prince rescues on their heads as she dons a sword, loses her glass slippers and rescues her true love. No Disney princess ever did that. Along the lines of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow or Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka, Adams gives an unexpected rare performance in a movie that should have been dopey but ends up truly enjoyable.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


At Quality 16 and Showcase


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