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Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 3/18/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/11/2008
If this year's Oscars taught us anything, it's that a great deal of importance is placed on serious movies. In fact, an outsider may think that violent dramas are the only movies which get attention. But, we know that this isn't so, and it's vital that we realize that there's nothing wrong with a movie simply being fun and entertaining. And we must also note that fun, entertaining, witty, and intelligent aren't mutually exclusive. The tongue-in-cheek Disney film Enchanted is a great reminder of this idea.
Enchanted's opening resembles many other Disney animated films. Giselle (Amy Adams) is a lovely maiden who lives in the forest in Andalasia with her animal friends, most notably Pip (voiced by Jeff Bennett), a chipmunk. Giselle dreams of meeting a handsome prince and experiencing "true love's kiss". At that moment, Prince Edward (James Marsden) is in the forest hunting trolls and hears Giselle's song. They meet and immediately fall in love. Edward proposes and they agree to marry the next day. This doesn't sit well with Edward's stepmother, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), who fears that she'll lose the throne if Edward marries. She had assigned her flunky Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) to keep Edward away from women in order to avoid this very situation. In order to keep things status quo, Narissa pushes Giselle down a magic well.
Giselle falls through the well and when she lands, she opens a hole and finds herself in live-action New York City. She is, of course, scared and confused, not knowing where she is. But, she knows that Edward will come to rescue her. Divorce lawyer Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey) and his daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey), happen upon a rain-soaked Giselle and take pity on her. Taking her back to their apartment, Robert immediately senses that there's something odd about this women and her incredibly upbeat view on life. He agrees to let her stay the night, stating that he'll help her get home the next day. At first, Robert is suspicious of Giselle's naive worldview, but he soon begins to warm up to it, and finds himself attracted to her. Meanwhile, Edward, Pip, and Nathaniel all come through the well in order to find Giselle. Can they locate her in this odd world, and what nefarious plan does Nathaniel have?
When I first saw the trailer for Enchanted, I assumed that it was simply another instance of Disney cashing in on itself. (If you've ever watched more than 5 minutes of Disney Channel, then you know what I mean.) However, I was wrong. In fact, the movie shows the company giving itself a gentle ribbing. (Mind you, it's quite gentle, but at least it shows a sense of humor on their part.) If you look back at some of the classic Disney films, you'll note that despite the fact that they were meant as wholesome, family entertainment, they are a bit too squeaky clean and naive. Enchanted lampoons those properties by presenting us with the wide-eyed Giselle, a young woman who was raised in a literal fairy tale world. When she reaches New York, she doesn't understand how our world works, and she expects things to work as they did in Andalasia. In some ways, this part of the story is a classic fish out of water story, such as in Splash!.
But, the movie then turns this idea on its ear. When Giselle faces a problem, she approaches as she would have in her animated life, and, surprisingly, it works -- although not always as intended. Two of the great musical numbers in the movie exemplify this idea. When Giselle calls out for assistance from animals in "Happy Working Song", she isn't visited by the gentle woodland creatures to which she's accustomed. But, when she and Robert are in Central Park and Giselle begins singing "That's How You Know", we and Robert are surprised when other park-goers join in.
It's this idea of taking what we expect from a Disney movie and twisting it ever so slightly which makes Enchanted work. Prince Edward could be considered the typical brave and handsome hero...until we learn that he's conceited and stupid. Nathaniel resemblances other dunderheaded Disney villain side-kicks from the past, but his passion for disguises gives him an odd and humorous charm. One of the film's best ideas comes when Pip reaches our world, and suddenly can't talk, proving that no one is immune to the effects of reality. Actually, the only character who follows the norm is Queen Narissa, who is clearly a homage to other evil female characters, but never veers from that stereotype. Who would have thought that the writer ofPremonition could come up with something like this?
Despite it's clever and charming story, Enchanted does have some flaws. At 107 minutes, the movie is simply too long. Not only because that's stretching it for a family film (unless you're Pixar, who've never met a long running time that they didn't like), but the movie also drags in spots. The real issues comes at the finale, where the movie has at least two climaxes. I also had some issues with the casting of Patrick Dempsey. He was serviceable in the role, but the Robert character needed to be a true straight man to play against Giselle's zaniness. I would have rather seen Jason Bateman in the part. As for Adams, all that I can say is that she was robbed by not getting an Oscar nod for transforming into the innocent Giselle. The ending of Enchanted may be a bit too strong for the wee ones, and there's a questionable scene where Roberts walks in on Giselle in the shower, but otherwise, the film is clever family fun.
Enchanted comes to our world on DVD courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks very good, as the picture is sharp and clear. There was no distracting grain on the image and no defects from the source material. The transfer is well-balanced, as the image is never too dark or too bright. The colors look good and realistic. I did note some video noise in some of the exterior shots, and these same shots show a subtle lack in detail. The DVD has both a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, as well as a DTS 5.1 track. Both provide clear dialogue and sound effects. Each does a fine job of reproducing the songs in the film. However, during the action packed finale, the DTS track takes a slight edge as it offers excellent surround sound and subwoofer effects. Family films are notoriously for dumping any bass response, but that isn't the case here.
The Enchanted DVD contains only a small amount of extras. "Fantasy Comes to Life" is split into three sections. "Happy Working Song" (6 minutes) shows how the apartment cleaning scene was executed, from the creation of the song to the actors working with nothing, to the inclusion of visual FX, to the involvement of real animals. "That's How You Know" (6 minutes) reveals how the immense Central Park musical number was done. We see the planning stages and the rehearsals with the dozens of extras who appear in the scene. "A Blast at the Ball" (5 minutes) examines the many factors which went into the finale, including the stunts, the digital FX, and green screen work. The DVD contains 6 DELETED SCENES which run about 8 minutes. Director Kevin Lima provides an introduction to each scene. An alternate animated opening is shown only as storyboards. These scenes are all quite brief and were simply cut for time. So, there's still no scene explaining how Edward knew to jump down the well. The DVD contains a 2-minute BLOOPER REEL. The final extra is "Pip's Predicament: A Pop-up Adventure" (5 minutes), an animated adventure starring the plucky chipmunk. The DVD contains the MUSIC VIDEO for the song "Ever Ever After" by Carrie Underwood. Technically, this is an Easter Egg, but it's listed on the Blu-ray Disc box, so I guess it's really no secret.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has also released Enchanted onBlu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the disc has an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image here looks very good, as there is no discernible grain and no defects from the source print. The colors look fantastic, from the pastels to the darker shades. The image shows a nice amount of detail and the exterior scenes have notable depth. I detected no overt video noise or artifacting. The disc holds a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. (This is interesting because Disney usually sticks with PCM tracks.) The track provides crystal clear dialogue with no hissing or distortion. The songs sound great and the New York City street scenes provide nice stereo and surround effects which show amazing detail. Again, the finale is where the audio really shines, as the surround and bass effects are very good.
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long