Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Disney Princess For Today

Amy Adams singing in a Princess gown singing her way across the meadow in Central Park, New York as Giselle in a scene from 'Enchanted'
photo Barry Wetcher/Walt Disney Pictures

Movie Review
Enchanted (2007)

I love Disney films. Is that wrong?

It's rooted deep in my biology from childhood -- Mary Poppins and Bambi -- and I just don't want to root it out. I gave up a pie-eating contest at age seven to go watch Mary Poppins for the fifth time.

(I'm hungry for some pie right now.)

I love going to Disneyland with my kids. I truly do. Riding the rides, eating churros, watching the singing and dancing, sitting down and watching people. I can watch the people for hours.

This isn't the greatest time to go watch a Disney film either. If you haven't heard, the Writers Guild of America is on strike, including against Disney. But it isn't against strike rules to go watch a movie.

I watched Enchanted (trailers) last night.

An animated princess is pushed out of her life by an evil witch, and into New York City as a real girl -- but she's still a princess: birds and animals coming when she sings to them, innately kind, true love is forever, and so on.

Amy Adams knocks it out of the park. Especially when as Giselle she sings her way through Grand Central Park in a show-stopping production number, spinning her way across the meadow quoting the opening shot of Sound of Music.

Part of what makes Enchanted so darn much fun is all the call outs to the classic Disney clich├ęs -- the poisoned apple, the glass slipper, the birds which help dress the princesses. These will all seem perfectly normal for children, but both fit into a background conversation which makes possible the world we live in, and at the same time are infinitely familiar.

Over at Feministe in the archives, Jill asks, What's wrong with princesses? off the New York Times article. More recently, Vanessa addresses the Disney Princess Industrial Complex, Disney's $3 billion a year business targeted at three to six year olds, now expanding into older age groups, all the way up to actual brides.

Does all this leave me conflicted? Sure. I feel as if I should feel guilty for loving Disney movies so much. No... that's not it. I feel guilty because I know I should feel guilty for loving Disney movies, and I don't. (And yeah -- while watching them, I do notice problems with the world view. But they keep getting better. Even if I have yet to see one which has a mother. What is it with the Disney formula where mom is always gone?)

Enough wondering. I like Disney and that's enough covering my ass for one review.

The movie is terrific. The songs are classic. And Amy can sing. My only complaint is, perhaps there could have been more singing please. Amy's last big number comes two-thirds of the way through the movie. But I quibble.

Amy Adams is a star.

The perfection of the dance moves, to the perfection of love's true kiss, this is a Disney fairy tale come to life before your eyes... and they don't miss anything.

Written by Bill Kelly, directed by Kevin Lima, Original Music by Oscar winners Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. (I haven't even mentioned the rest of the award-winning/nominated production team, but let's just be clear... Disney sent in the best; Oscar winners and nominees everywhere.)

Dreams really do come true.

Enchanted. *sighs*

Highly recommended.

Note (12/2): This article has been edited to remove a reference to Sound of Music having been a Disney film. Sound of Music was released by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation.