Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown
The sweet silliness of the collective Disney-animated, fairy-tale landscape meets the rough reality of Noo Yawk City? Why didn't someone think of this sooner and pull it off as perfectly as Enchanted does? As a way to pass a couple hours in sheer movie bliss, Enchanted can't go wrong.
Plus, it's an example of an even rarer cinematic creature: the movie wholly suitable for both kids and grownups. Everyone's happy, and it doesn't even suffer from that terrible tinge of being "good for you" in any way. It's like junk food you won't get a tummy ache from eating too much of.
(I'd say Christmas came early this year, but I'd risk overselling this one too much.)
It's not really the collective Disney fairy-tale landscape we're thrown into for the first 10 minutes or so of Enchanted. It's a snarky but loving parody of such. Aping the classic hand-drawn Disney 'toons of old, the land of Andalasia is a realm of troll-hunting princes (James Marsden's bombastic Edward), dreamy girls who dreamily dream of meeting their True Loves (Amy Adams' Giselle, who aspires to the job of princess), and wicked stepmother monarchs (Susan Sarandon's Queen Narissa).
Oh, didn't I say? The two kids discover, mostly through song, that they're each other's True Love, and decide to get married the day after they meet and warble a duet. They sing a lot, these Andalasians even the animals when they're not talking. The animals, that is. The humans don't talk so much as declaim dramatically.
And it's not really the roughest kind of New York that Giselle lands in when Narissa banishes her from Andalasia as punishment for being so darn cute and irresistible to Edward, her stepson. It's a fantasy New York: Sure, Times Square at night is a bit intimidating, particularly when you're climbing up through a manhole in the middle of the street. But Central Park is right out of a fairy tale: horse-drawn carriages and wandering musicians, fountains ideal for backdrops to serenades, and meadows suitable for joyful cavorting. It's almost fairy-tale-ish, too, that just about the first human being Giselle meets in Manhattan is Patrick Dempsey's Robert, a stick-up-his-butt lawyer who could use a lesson in True Love himself. (Did I mention he's a divorce lawyer? Of course he is!)
Fortunately, Robert, a single dad, has a young daughter (Rachel Covey) whose brain is full of princesses and fluffy pinkness. She recognizes Giselle instantly for what she is: a ticket to Fantasia.
Screenwriter Bill Kelly and director Kevin Lima hit all the right notes with everything from their songs to their wrangling of the trip-you-up reality of romance in the non-animated world. The whole cast is note-perfect, too, down to the cheery and slightly subversive songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. Sarandon especially stands out as the most fun in her wickedly delicious role. But, really, the whole film is fun.
Unfortunately, the 10-minute, hand-crafted 'toon that opens the movie is likely to be the last we'll ever see from Disney now that CGI has taken over. But it couldn't have gone out in a more, well, enchanting way.
Of course not.