Sadie Rose is back with another co-viewing with her daughter Lila, now six years old, and their introduction to Enchanted.
Dir. Kevin Lima
Confession: I never saw this 10 years ago. I wanted to, it looked cute, got great reviews, and I love Amy Adams, but I never got around to it. Then it showed up on “the list” and I have a six-year-old, Lila, who is entrenched in Princess Culture, so here we are: watching a movie from 10 years ago for the first time. So subversive.
It holds up. Thank god for the comments from my kid, or else this would be a pretty boring review. The performances are great. The writing and directing is seamless. Of course if you look really close, you can see the craft but that is when it is it’s craftiest. Just like magic.
The movie opens with a pan to a large bound book with the title Enchanted on the cover. Lila was able to read the word and quickly followed it up with a question, “What does ‘Enchanted’ mean?”
“Under a spell.”
“What if the boy is under the spell?!?” (And if you feel the desire to read Lila as a teeny-tiny Giselle, you would be accurate. She’s just as bubbly and animated; annoying but undeniably lovable.)
We are introduced to Giselle in her natural animated state and we meet her valiant troll-toppling prince, Edward. They meet each other when he saves her from the troll, all while singing a duet, naturally. Lila’s comments were, “She loves kindness.” (Which is the best part of Princess Culture, it does strongly encourage being kind to everyone.) “Again with the singing?!? This is too lovey! This part is way too lovey. I’m not watching. Too lovey. Too lovey. Too lovey. Too lovey!! Yuck!” “Is she going to be the one under the spell? I hope not!”
She is already trying to flip the script, throw tropes to the wind, and I’m a proud mama.
The day after meeting him, Giselle is marrying Prince Edward. On her way to her wedding the Evil Queen/Step-Mother disguises herself as a hag and pushes Giselle into a wishing well. At the bottom of the well is…Manhattan. Times Square to be exact. Where Giselle emerges from a manhole as Amy Adams. Lila interrupts, “This is what I thought the movie would look like! She looks real.” She sure does. Who can’t love Amy Adams’ full body interpretation of a Disney Princess?!? Those hands are so ridiculous but somehow work so well.
Giselle is disappointed in NYC hospitality and can’t find anyone to help her, until she climbs a castle billboard and falls into the arms of Patrick Dempsey/Robert. But Robert would have never saved her if it weren’t for his princess-obsessed six-year-old, Morgan. What parallel worlds we live in.
Before seeing the Princess on the billboard, Robert gives Morgan a book of famous accomplished woman. My six-year-old felt as disappointment in this present as Morgan. A solid beat before Morgan said it, Lila proclaimed, “A BOOK?!?” But as a parent I felt for Robert, we have filled Lila’s bookshelf with such modern classics as She Persisted: 13 American Woman Who Changed the World, I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, yet Lila would still rather read Princess Pony Puppy books.
After saving the Princess, they decide to bring her home. For her to use their phone?!? Where is the cell phone? Wealthy divorce-lawyer why do you not have a cell phone?!? Why are you bringing a crazy person into your home? Oh right, because pretty-girl-plot-device. Giselle falls asleep on the couch, and because no man can resist a sleeping beauty, Robert lets her stay. Lila sees how weird him watching her sleep is and says, “That is kinda disgusting.” Yes, thank you, kid, it is.
But then Giselle wakes up and cleans the house with the help of NYC rats, pigeons, and cockroaches. At first Lila is excited, “Did all her friends come?!?” But then the reality sets in, “Ew! Ew! This is disgusting…and not acceptable. Ew! But at least they are cleaning up!” Robert and Morgan feel the same way about the animals as Lila does, and shoos the vermin out to the hallway where someone else can deal with them? Cool, dude. Also, your girlfriend noticed how clean the apartment is but you can’t even muster a thank you?!? Like, dude, labor is labor, it takes a lot to keep a team motivated and on task. Plus, all that singing to keep up morale that is serious emotional labor!
Oh ya, the girlfriend is Idina Menzel! I was waiting the whole movie for her song. Spoiler: She doesn’t get one. But I did tell Lila “that actress is the voice of Elsa.” “ELSA!!!! I’m a huge fan of hers!!”
Idina notices the clean apartment and then sees her boyfriend of five years under a mostly naked Giselle. Idina/Elsa will not let it go and storms out. (#sorrynotsorry) It’s tragic because Robert doesn’t even like Giselle, nor does he care for her work. (Really dude, say thank you! Or just notice the clean apartment! Notice the work!! It takes work. She did your laundry for Christ’s sake!) Robert takes his kid to school, his pet Princess to work and after more life-wrecking antics at work, Robert tries to set her loose in Central Park. Which seemed legit to me. Cut off the chaos. And even Giselle respects his boundary setting and walks away. “She’s being a good friend. She’s just different. She does things differently. But they’re the same on the inside. She doesn’t understand, she’s not FROM HERE.” Lila is officially screaming at the TV. And it’s almost as if Robert hears her, because he goes after Giselle and takes the rest of the day off work to be coached and serenaded about love. And he gets his girlfriend back. Idina tells him she believes him if he says nothing happened. Although Lila does not, she informs me, “Something is happening between them. Why would he say it’s nothing?!?” So apparently a six-year-old can see the chemistry.
After making up with his girlfriend, Robert takes not-his-girlfriend out to dinner and then they tuck Morgan into bed. Robert then starts a fight by informing Giselle that her fiancé, Edward, is not coming for her. Which is so dumb. She’s been apart from her fiancé for like 36 hours. You’ve only known her for 24 of those hours, but you think you know her relationship? You know this guy isn’t coming for her because, what, you’ve met him? You have not. You only know her and you literally followed her around all afternoon and you think Edward is never coming for her? Because you, alone have great taste in woman? Insert eye roll. Giselle gets rightfully angry, and then giddy about experiencing new emotions. But Lila’s reaction was “Ooooo. She’s angry. She’s happy angry? This is disgusting, silly and weird all at the same time.” Giselle touches Roberts chest and they almost kiss. Yep, disgusting, silly and weird.
There is also a B-plot. Prince Edward has jumped into the well to find his bride. Followed by his squire who is there to poison Giselle under the Evil Queen’s command. And Pip the Chipmunk, who is trapped in the body of a (very workable considering it’s been 10 years) CGI chipmunk. I don’t want to dismiss the labor of the many plot devises that lead to Prince Edward to finding Giselle, they are smooth and Lila never questioned their logic, but I don’t have an interested in dissecting them for you. Lila fully appreciated James Marsden’s work as Prince Edward. She relished knowing more than him, “That’s not a magic mirror! That’s a TV!” and she giggled “He’s so silly!” with his many faces and adventures on in his journey to find Giselle.
In the morning. Edward arrives to save Gisele, ya know, the thing everyone has wanted for so long, like an entire day. Giselle has been searching for Edward. Robert has been trying to get rid of Giselle. Edward has been on a quest for Giselle. What a relief it’s all been resolved. Except Giselle has changed and can’t finish Edward’s sentence/song—finish them yourself, dude!—she wants to go on a date and everyone is finding it hard to say goodbye. We also have 30 minutes left in the movie.
There is an awkward date, a shopping montage (Worst part of Princess Culture: Consumerism!) and some Morgan/Giselle bonding, although it’s pretty shallow in my opinion, vague talk about absent moms.
In the end everyone ends up at the ball. Yes there is a ball. “I didn’t know we had balls?!? It’s like a party?” I find this comment remarkable because first, Lila is “othering” Princess Culture and the animated world, even though these characters are real in this movie. And second, yes Lila, exactly like a party. What did she think balls were?
The couples have to dance with each other’s intended love, because plot device. Edward takes Idina’s hand and as Robert and Giselle take the floor, Lila leans into me and says sweetly, “This is lovey and nice.” All I can think is, “Well done, Kevin Lima and Bill Kelly. You brought my daughter from, ‘Ew. Lovey. Disgusting. I won’t watch’ to, *sigh,* ‘Lovey. Nice. Can’t peel my eyes away.” And then, as Robert begins to serenade Giselle, Lila completely loses her mind. “I think he’s singing to her. Is he singing? HE IS SINGING! I was right! He loves her.”
Then they say goodbye again, Giselle falls under the sleeping spell, Edward tries to save her with a kiss: FAIL. Robert kisses her and she awakens (although he literally waits till the last second, is that necessary?!), but then the evil queen turns into a dragon and the movie is still not over? Nope. They need to flip the script and have Giselle save Robert. This may have been subversive 10 years ago. It was only five years ago that my mind was blown by Frozen having the “act of true love” be something the princess could do for her sister and not have it done to her by some guy. “She’s doing it! She’s being brave. I know that would be scary but I’d do it, for something more important than myself. Like my favorite person.” Giselle saves Robert. Then Prince Edward takes Idina back to his cartoon world and Giselle becomes Morgan’s stepmother. Everyone is happy. The End. “That’s where it ends. But it never really ends. But it has to end somewhere I guess.” I feel like it had five endings.
Lila’s final comments were: “Kinda good. Kinda bad. I would maybe watch it again.” However even if she never watches it again, when I think of how a writer or director or actor would want their work to be observed, appreciated and engaged with by its intended audience, I think Lila’s reactions were a sign of a well-executed piece. She was right in step for every move the plot took, she ooed, awed, yelled, and giggled at the actors’ choices and she fully enjoyed herself. While I thought the movie could have been 20 minutes shorter, she would have watched three more endings. She also walked away fixed in her belief that being nice is nice, being brave for the people you love is noble, and in the end all that matters is a happy home life. Her favorite part was Robert, Giselle, and Morgan playing and being together. Not just Robert and Giselle but also the kid. Which is sweet. But also I hope she doesn’t have Amy Adams’ expectations for this mama, or McDreamy expectations for my husband. No one can live up to that.
Just found out Disenchanted will come out in theaters next year. Directed by Adam Shankman. I haven’t had time to process this yet.