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CW's Review of Enchanted

rated it: posted: Jan 08, 2012
Reviews: 51 | Reviewing Ninja
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There is no denying the historical importance of a movie like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Just like The Wizard of Oz, 12 Angry Men and Gone With the Wind, everyone needs to see Snow White at least once in their lives.

When you’re finished with Snow White, put a better movie on. I recommend Enchanted.

If you get right down to it, Enchanted is what Snow White would be if it were written and produced in the modern day. After all, the two movies share most of the same elements, spoilers ahead.

1) Our heroine meets a random prince. And it is always a random prince. His background doesn’t matter. For all we know, Prince Edward could own an island named after him, and he could’ve just been visited by three spirits the night before who showed him that eating babies is not the right and proper thing for princes to do. It doesn’t matter. Five minutes before Enchanted, Edward simply didn’t exist. The only thing that’s really established about his character is that his stepmother is the queen. This is more than we ever knew about the prince from Snow White.

2) The prince is instantaneously infatuated with our heroine, which if you ask me shows just how shallow these fairy tale princes are. At least the prince in Snow White had her singing voice to go by as well as her good looks, even if some members of the audience think her voice was a little too shrill. In Enchanted, Giselle and Prince Edward were practically proposing marriage to each other before they’d even finished introducing themselves. Generally, these kinds of things tend not to end well, just ask a drive-thru wedding chapel at Las Vegas, but- oh wait, this is supposed to be a fairy tale setting. Happily Ever After is a gene everyone carries.

3) The heroine departs from her home. And in both movies, it’s due to the actions of a jealous queen. And yet, our heroine makes the most of things. Did you notice that the first thing that Giselle did upon resting up from her long day was to clean the apartment from top to bottom with help from the local New York wildlife? Snow White did the exact same thing. She cleaned up the dwarfs’ home with help from the forest animals. At least Snow White had an excuse: housekeeping was all that she was good at. But I guess since Cinderella also found herself doing the work of a maid, it somehow became a contractual obligation for a princess in a Disney movie to know how to clean house.

4) The current ruling monarch plots to kill our heroine. And speaking of contractual obligations, it seems as if princesses must always be the targets of mob hits, so to speak. The Evil Queen Mafia just hates them. Even if they’re not a princess yet but are going to be one, they are automatically marked for death. Just look at Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent wasn’t fooling around: she marked her for death as soon as she was born.

5) Our heroine bites into a poisoned apple. I don’t know why it’s only apples that kill. It must be some kind of metaphor. But because an apple is what causes Snow White’s eyes to close, the same magically lethal fruit shows up in Enchanted. In fact, three of them show up in Enchanted, if only so that they can hang a lampshade on them by making two of them go to waste without any of the characters cluing in to what’s happening.

6) True love’s kiss brings our heroine back from sleeping death. Well, okay, in Snow White, it was “love’s first kiss”, but in most other media, it’s been portrayed as “true love’s kiss”, instead. I don’t quite know when it changed, the counter-spell was clearly visible on screen during Snow White. And just in case the audience was illiterate, it was read out loud as well. I guess “love’s first kiss” wasn’t fairy tale enough, it had to be “true” as well.

Enchanted opens with an animated sequence set in the land of Andalasia, where things always follow fairy tale rules. Giselle meets Prince Edward and it’s decided right away that they must get married. But even in fairy tales, absolute power corrupts absolutely and due to the rules of the kingdom of Andalasia, if Giselle and Edward marry, Queen Narissa automatically loses the throne. So Narissa manages to trick Giselle into a trap, and she finds herself in New York City. When Prince Edward finds out what happened to Giselle, he travels to New York City as well, to get her back.

Giselle and Prince Edward are understandably naive to the way the real world works, although Giselle’s naivety is nothing compared to Edward’s. While Giselle grows in her understanding of New York as the movie progresses, Edward treats it as just another part of the kingdom of Andalasia, and he sees our world through the filter of his own preconceived notions. Although the fish out of water story has been done to death by now, and more often than not I find myself cringing whenever I see someone acting as out of place as possible out in public, even in fiction, the movie doesn’t grind to a halt every time Giselle or Edward run afoul of another difference between Andalasia and New York, and I actually enjoyed Enchanted because of this. Instead of being played for cheap laughs, the scenes are genuinely hilarious and move rather quickly. There is sincerity in Amy Adams’ performance as Giselle and in James Marsden’s performance as Edward.

Just as enjoyable for me was how the movie deconstructed fairy tale cliches. Although Giselle still acts like a princess from a fairy tale throughout the movie, New York is New York, and before her first evening in the big city is over, she finds herself dragged into the subway, victimized by theft, and drenched by a rainstorm. It illustrates the vast differences between the modern day setting of the movie and the idealized medieval setting of a fairy tale. While we all wish that dreams come true like they do in fairy tales, it’s often not the case. And yet Giselle does not lose her optimism, which is something that far too often is the first thing we lose when we find ourselves faced with our dreams dashed on the pavement.

What I took away from Enchanted is not that Snow White is in any way wrong. I mean, it’s okay to be hopeful without being naive. It’s okay to believe in fairy tales, although you shouldn’t always base your life on them. And it’s okay to believe in a little magic every now and then. Instead, Enchanted tries to be a little more realistic, and it certainly succeeded. In that sense, I will say that Snow White is something every five year old should see, and Enchanted is something every ten year old should see.

animated movie Enchanted © Disney
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3.5 stars / 13 ratings
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