Monday, December 17, 2007


The last time I saw Amy Adams in a movie she was so sweet and appealing as Ashley, the childlike and very pregnant Southerner in 2005's "Junebug." Adams received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for that role.

In Disney's "Enchanted," Adams has moved up a few notches on the social scale: she's Giselle now, a princess-in-waiting. But her character still has that same sweetness, although this time with a sense of wonder that comes from being a princess out of water. James Marsden plays Edward, her Prince Charming, with a great combination of sincerity, wit and royal entitlement. Marsden's been terrific in everything I've seen him in lately, including as teen dance show host Corny Collins in "Hairspray."

The first movie I ever remember seeing was from Disney - 1963's take on the legend of King Arthur, "The Sword in the Stone." So I was delighted that "Enchanted" starts off with a terrific animated sequence showing how Giselle met her Prince Charming. It reminded me of all those classic Disney animated movies. Eric at Man in Chair has the rundown on the references, along with all the Broadway stars, that crop up in "Enchanted."

Before Giselle and Edward can marry, she's banished by the evil queen, a perfectly nasty Susan Sarandon, to a place where there are no happy endings, which turns out to be midtown Manhattan. Giselle is rescued from a driving rainstorm by cautious, straightlaced divorce lawyer Robert Philip, played by Patrick Dempsey, who has a 6-year-old daughter, Morgan, a very sweet Rachel Covey, and a girlfriend, Nancy, a sassy Idina Menzel.

Soon, everyone is in Manhattan looking for Giselle: Edward, the queen, the queen's henchman, a very funny Timothy Spall, and one incredibly industrious chipmunk, voiced by Kevin Lima, who also directed the film. A great running gag is how they all appear in New York, one after another, through a manhole cover in Times Square.

And let me just say, the city looks especially enchanting in this movie. There are great scenes of Times Square, Katz's Deli on the Lower East Side, Columbus Circle, and an extended song-and-dance number that takes place in Central Park. (I couldn't help but think how great it'll look on stage when Disney gets around to turning "Enchanted" into a Broadway musical. I hope they get Matthew Bourne, who did the wonderful choreography for "Mary Poppins.")

"Enchanted" is a really sweet, fun, engaging movie, especially for anyone who loves romantic comedies, or Disney or New York City. I'm even thinking about picking up a copy of the score by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, which recalls classic Disney tunes.

A large part of the credit goes to Adams. For all her innocence and naivete, she's also a princess with lots of pluck, determination and a take-charge attitude. (Although I could have done with far, far fewer computer-created rodents and insects in the scene where Giselle tidies up Robert's apartment).

I'm really looking forward to a couple of Adams' upcoming roles - the film version of the Tony and Pulitzer-winning play "Doubt," and "Julie and Julia," the real-life story of a woman who wrote a blog, and then a book, about working her way through Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." I've read the book, by Julie Powell, and I think Adams would be perfect in the part. Meryl Streep, who's also on tap to star in "Doubt," is supposed to play Julia Child.

I do have a couple of quibbles with "Enchanted." I did kind of wonder about the explanation for what happened to Robert's wife and Morgan's mother: apparently she just left them one day. Usually in this type of movie, the mother dies tragically young, like in "Bambi." It just seems like an odd plot choice for a movie aimed at children. Plus, I found the final battle between the queen and Giselle a little jarring. The movie starts with cute and cuddly animation straight out of "Bambi" and ends with a scary sequence that looks like it could have come from "Godzilla."

Still, I have to admit that I felt like crying at the end, as Giselle teaches Robert a thing or two about the power of love. I don't think I'm giving anything away by revealing that despite the queen's assertion, New York is a place for happy endings.

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