Walt Disney Pictures never cease to amaze in their continual effort to exploit every last bit of the classic animation films the company’s been built around. Whether it’s the live-action remakes and direct-to-video sequels to sequels, or the imperial Disney Store, Disney Channel, and Disney theme park universe, there’s seemingly always another opportunity to shove out Cinderella and Snow White yet again. A reasonably inventive new idea, to take a modern, live-action story and mix it with the heroine-heavy Disney cartoons of yesteryear, turned Enchanted into a $300 million plus worldwide box office hit. I smell sequels, toys, shirts and, if we’re lucky, Enchanted On Ice. And every little girl will want one of everything because every little girl wants to be a princess.
Enchanted is a movie made for those little girls, and maybe their little boyfriends or slightly older sisters. Mom might find herself chuckling along, too. Dad may enjoy a few parts, as well, but perhaps not for the same reasons. Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong or embarrassing about deriving enjoyment from something so insubstantial, manufactured even. The film is pleasant enough for most of its running time and Amy Adams’ performance sells it all with such wide-eyed perfection and blissful cuteness that it’s difficult to imagine how anyone could have possibly played her role any better. Otherwise reluctant male viewers may realise that the advantage to live-action cartoons is that the princess is, well, live-action.
It’s nearly impossible to outwardly hate Enchanted. The movie, competently directed by Kevin Lima, whose work has heretofore included such notable lightweight Disney crap like 102 Dalmations and A Goofy Movie, is, quite literally, a princess-into-water story where our animated Princess-to-be Giselle falls into a wishing well and finds Times Square on the other end, transforming into Adams in the process. She traipses through a soggy Manhattan in search of Prince Edward (James Marsden), her intended beau, but instead falls into the arms of divorce lawyer Robert (Patrick Dempsey). Can you guess how the rest turns out, because I could and I’d imagine anyone who’s ever seen Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, or the handful of other Disney cartoons Enchanted stretches the limits of homage from will be able to, as well.
For a little while, and here’s where the movie does succeed as buttered popcorn entertainment, it almost seems like we might have something that can overcome its inherent limitations and maintain the fresh spin it starts out with. It’s light, it’s funny, the songs (especially the tolerable to delightful “Happy Working Song”) aren’t too annoying. Adams and her creepy-CGI rodent friends are there to sweep and clean everything up. You half expect her to reach out and give you a piece of candy in case you’re not already smiling enough. Dempsey and his hair are less bothersome than you anticipated and Marsden plays a grinning dimwit with aplomb. You’re, oh dear, enchanted by Enchanted! Then, we’re reminded that this is indeed a Disney movie and, as such, it requires a typically Disney ending, even if it’s the same one we’ve seen in so many of their other films.
Which is to say, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), the wicked stepmother responsible for banishing Giselle to Manhattan, fares worse than the other characters and we get a nice little bow intended to tie everything up with (while still leaving some flexibility for that all-important sequel). Instead, it nearly chokes the life out of the movie and does a disservice to some of the more pleasant aspects in the earlier portions. I’m still trying to understand how pigeons and rats and various other vermin are able or allowed to make dresses and such. Those little leaps are okay in the ten-minute opening animated sequence, which gently lampoons all the films Enchanted then proceeds to fit in line with by the end. The good-natured ribbing of classic Disney cartoons loses something when the film later sinks down to emulate the very same rules of fantasy, this time without the ironic wink.
The original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is maintained on DVD and the film is enhanced in anamorphic widescreen. However, approximately the first ten minutes are fully animated and use a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, achieved by matting the 2.35:1 image with black bars on each side. The odd thing is that the brief animated sequences later in the film stay at 2.35:1. It has been transferred progressively and looks acceptable, though not what I'd classify as overly impressive. Some digital noise is noticeable and the overall detail and sharpness are just adequate. A layer change pause was also evident. No real problems, though, and the mostly bright colours look fine.
Four audio options are available, including English language tracks for both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS. The DTS accentuates the surround sound rainfall maybe a tad more, but neither sounds significantly better than the other. Both do a good job of spreading the audio out, including one particular scene where I wasn't sure at first whether sirens were in the movie or outside my residence. Enchanted is, at least in part, a musical, boasting three Oscar-nominated songs, and I was mostly pleased with how they sounded. The volume levels are consistent throughout, with dialogue, the score, and the songs all coming through nice and clear. French and Spanish dubs are also available, along with pale yellow English for the hearing impaired, French, and Spanish subtitles. The bonus features have the same language and subtitle options as the film.
For a Disney DVD release of a high-profile, financially successful film, the R1 edition of Enchanted comes up a little short on extras. "Fantasy Comes to Life" consists of three separate featurettes detailing brief behind-the-scenes information. The first, "Happy Working Song," (6:25) discusses the process of bringing Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz's musical number to the screen amid a computer-generated menagerie of tidy roaches, pigeons, rats, and mice. Similarly, "That's How You Know" (5:54) looks at how the Central Park-set scene where that song is performed was accomplished. "A Blast at the Ball" (5:27) shows the work and preparation done to create Queen Narissa's big transformation. I know these people spent months of their life working to make everything look perfect, but the comment that the entire outdoor portion of this scene was a computer-generated New York City is said too many times considering it quite obviously looks that way.
A selection of six deleted scenes, all with introductions by director Kevin Lima explaining why they were removed, runs a total of 7:50 and can also be played individually. The first, and longest, of these is an extended opening scene that's mostly just storyboards. A blooper reel (2:10) and a pair of easily found Easter eggs round out the first Bonus Features menu screen. One Easter egg is the Carrie Underwood music video for "Ever Ever After" (3:32) and the other (1:18) is advertising how great a Blu-Ray-only bonus feature pointing out the Disney references in the film is. Thanks Disney. Lastly, "Pip's Predicament: A Pop-Up Adventure" (5:36) is a strange little cartoon featuring the chipmunk from the film. The characters don't move and Pip somehow has to unfreeze Prince Edward by using his "nut dust." I believe that's Julie Andrews narrating, as she does for the feature.
The usual sneak peeks option on this Disney DVD is filled with trailers for things like The Jungle Book 2, Tinker Bell, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, and a new Platinum Edition of Sleeping Beauty on DVD. Enchanted is packaged with an embossed slipcover, and a chapter listing insert, Disney Movie Rewards code, and a $10 coupon expiring at the end of April for the film on Blu-Ray are all inside the case.