R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Kevin Lima
scr Bill Kelly
with Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Susan Sarandon, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel, Rachel Covey, Michaela Conlin, Paige O'Hara, Isiah Whitlock Jr, John Rothman, Matt Servitto
narr Julie Andrews
release US 21.Nov.07,
UK 14.Dec.07
07/US Disney 1h47
Splash too? Adams and Dempsey

marsden sarandon spall

London Film Fest

Enchanted With knowing references to virtually the entire back catalogue of Disney fairy tales, this witty romantic romp playfully spins its story with the required cuteness constantly subverted by a very sharp script.

In the animated land of Andalasia, Giselle (Adams) has just met her handsome Prince Edward (Marsden). But his conniving stepmother, Queen Narissa (Sarandon), banishes her to the real world, specifically Manhattan, where she's utterly unprepared for the grim goings on around her. Stranded in the street, she's rescued by Robert (Dempsey), a lawyer with a precocious 6-year-old daughter (Covey) and a girlfriend (Menzel) of five years, who's not too thrilled when she meets Giselle in his flat. Meanwhile, Edward has followed Giselle to New York, with Narissa's henchman (Spall) in close pursuit.

Lima is clearly having a ball here, riffing on classic Disney animation and then forcing the characters to fend for themselves in a gritty, urban setting. The film is packed with hilarious gags, including a few running jokes that get funnier as the story progresses. From Snow White to Beauty and the Beast, every classic is present and accounted for, and screenwriter Kelly sustains the fish-out-of-water premise with inventive humour and astute social commentary (much as he did in Blast from the Past).

The cast is terrific, especially Adams' brilliantly "animated" movements and Marsden's charming vacuity. Dempsey is as dreamy as expected, while Sarandon chomps madly on the scenery, especially when she joins the real-world setting. Spall gamely suffers through perhaps a few too many wacky makeovers, but eventually manages to pull some pathos out of his sinister buffoon. And Menzel is fine in an underwritten role (why cast her in a musical then not let her sing?).

The songs, by the Pocahontas/Hunchback team of Menken and Schwartz, are lively and energetically staged, and both the classic drawn-style animation and the photo-realistic computer imagery are excellent. On the other hand, the fairy tale plot is utterly transparent from the opening set-up, which kind of undermines any suspense or romanticism. But it's so consistently entertaining that both kids and grown-ups will be having too much fun to worry about things like thin characterisations and predictability.

cert pg themes, some suspense 7.Oct.07

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2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall