Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Amy Adams deserves an Oscar for her work in ENCHANTED. I realize that’s a bigger fairy tale than an animated princess coming to life but her comic performance was so inspired that I’d vote for her over all the heart wrenching showy Kidman/Densch/Streep angstfests that will undoubtedly get nominated instead. This is the same Amy Adams who was nominated for an Academy Award for JUNEBUG and was fired off that brilliant CBS show, DR. VEGAS.

ENCHANTED follows an often-used formula – extreme fish out of water lands in New York. Other examples are SPLASH, ELF, and MIDNIGHT COWBOY.

But ENCHANTED turns out to be a really fun movie. I say that with a certain amount of surprise since this is the type of film I usually run from. And there are not too many guys who are going to say to their buddies, “Hey dudes, let’s go see ENCHANTED tonight.” But the movie is smart, funny, and a great send-up of all those classic Disney animated features that were so precious you wanted to buy a gun. And guys secretly want to bang the Little Mermaid so Amy Adams will certainly hold their interest.

The key to ENCHANTED is that everybody plays it straight, led by Amy. This is not a sketch. There’s no winking at the camera. Amy totally commits to this princess and that’s what makes her hilarious… and even believable. It’s the most fully realized two-dimensional character I’ve ever seen. And she can sing and dance!

Patrick Dempsey was handsome and likable and hopes his feature career takes off like Tom Hanks’ did with SPLASH.

James Marsden, Susan Sarandon, and the chipmunk also did yeoman work.

Screenwriter Bill Kelly didn’t miss a trick. There’s not a Disney cliché that isn’t spoofed other than killing Bambi’s mother (Oh. Sorry. SPOILER ALERT). It’s as if he’s saying, “Hey, you weren’t the only one who cringed at all this crap.” And the songs by Alan Menken & Stephen Schwartz are dead-on parodies of those horrible songs originally written by, well… Menken & Schwartz.

My favorite credit: Hag make-up effects: Rick Baker.

Disney will make a for-toon on this movie. Forget the boxoffice. There won’t be a thirteen-year-old girl in America who won’t own the DVD. And then there’s the inevitable TV series, Broadway production, and ice show. So Bob Iger will live happily ever after.

Meanwhile, ENCHANTED will transform Amy Adams into Hollywood Royalty. And even if she doesn't win an Oscar she's a shoo-in to cop a Golden Globe. But that's like saying she's not marrying the handsome prince but his valet instead.


Anonymous said...

Why wasn't anyone picketing at Fox around 2pm today? Nothing on Nikki Finke or UnitedHollywood said "no striking at Fox". I got a red shirt and everything.

Christina said...

I saw the preview of this with one of my good guy friends and he exclaimed, "I'm going to see that movie." He's not gay or girlie. He is, however, in his 20s. I want to see it also. It looks very funny. I love any movie where they break into song and mean it.

Anonymous said...

I noted the same thing about Amy Adams and this movie on your Comments pages after seeing a preview way back on Nov. 19, and I'm a 50-year-old guy with no kids. I hope she wins an Oscar. On the other end of the character range, I'm also sad that Cutthroat Bitch was fired by House. But maybe she'll win an Emmy.

Rob said...

As a father of a 6 year old daughter, I'd like to see this movie, if only because she's spent the past three years swimming in Disney princess stuff. It's something I could take her to without checking my watch every 5 minutes.

As for Adams winning the Academy Award, I'm sorry, but Helen Mirren is a lock for.... well, whatever she was in this year.

And guys secretly want to bang the Little Mermaid so Amy Adams will certainly hold their interest.

Note to self..... Do not send my daughter to Ken's house on Halloween.

Earl Newton said...

With no respect as to how difficult this can be:

I feel like the marketing of the show really didn't do as good a job, because from the first trailer I was saying, "No way in hell could this possibly be a good film."

I was shocked to see how well it was doing in the box office, and more so to hear the film is actually quite good. I will have to go see it now, but they almost lost a swath of the populace on improper marketing.

That said, always good to see a film you thought was going to reek actually turn out to be good. :)

Anonymous said...

It's more of a fairy tale that Angelina Jolie can be nominated for her work in that Disney-like film, "Mighty Heart.." and the machine is starting rumours she is to be up for Oscar as well, so why not Amy? It's more fair anyway.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 51-year-old straight single (but engaged) guy and I loved this film. Amy Adams was terrific! Who'd have thought she could sing and dance? The ending is a bit silly and seems out of character with the rest of the film, but that's a small quibble. Everyone will enjoy this film!

estiv said...

I had the same experience. I went because of family obligation, not out of a desire to see something that the ads had made look awful.

The first clue that this parody/homage was really going to dig a little deeper than one might expect was the appearance of the cockroaches in the magical-animals-cleaning-the-room sequence. And it went on from there. To create a well-done Disney-style movie musical based on subverting every cliche of the Disney-style movie musical must have been fun for the creators.

Michael said...

I saw the preview a couple months ago and thought it looked and meant well but that it was likely to be a "tweener" girl movie, one that I'd secretly watch when it came on cable.

I did not recognize Amy Adams, who I had only known as Katy the Purse Girl (Jim's date) from a couple episodes of "The Office" (she gets dumped by Jim on the Booze Cruise episode).

Michael said...

Oh, and in some fortuitous timing, Amy is in some GAP ads along with her Office buddy John Krasinski (you can see one of her ads here).

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be an episode behind, but a friend asked me to pass this along:

Ken Levine said…
The toughest part at 20th is
not the physical aspect of
trudging miles in an endless
circle….the nearest bathroom is
... a half mile away.

I have an idea, Ken. Call me.
--- Lisa Marie Nowak.

Yeh, I know, the reference already wore itself out on the picket line by the end of the 1st day. Hell, I’m only the messenger.

Anonymous said...

Straight male, mid fifties with an 11 year old daughter. Also loved Enchanted. I read the movie was stuck in development for fourteen years. Getting this director and an actress like Amy Adams was worth the wait. I don't see anyone else who could have pulled this off. Maybe Isla Fisher if she could sing and dance. The director was also brilliant. I've thought about this film a lot since I've seen it. It's a very difficult feat to pull off. There were a million ways this movie could've gone off the rails. If the script, acting and directing hadn't been pitch perfect it would've been a real groaner.

And speaking of Disney princesses, here is a screenshot compilation of all the women of "Californication." That should bring everyone up to speed.


I had to split the link because it disappears off the page. You'll have to have to paste it together before you drop it in the address bar.

Courtney Suzanne said...

I loved this film! I left the theater giggling maniacally, and I haven't done that in a long time. Disclaimer: I love Disney cartoons and used to work for the company, so I might be a touch biased. However, the most recent Disney fare, animated or not, doesn't touch Enchanted, IMHO.

My boyfriend, who only went to see this because it parodied Disney cartoons, felt a little let down because he didn't feel it was enough of a satire. To each his own.

estiv said...

One other thing: according to the IMDB's trivia section, there are a number of in-jokes hidden in the film. The best of these may be that actresses who have done voice work for the princesses in Disney's animated work were given small roles (such as the woman who says, "You're too late," to the handsome prince).

John said...

Loved it. I took my 4 daughters and went with another family that has 3 girls. All ranged from 6 to 15. Amy Adams was spectacular. She has down not only the singing & dancing but the princess hand movements and niavete. I thought they also did an excellent job with the CGI for the dragon and the chipmunk.

I recognized the actress who did the voice of Ariel ( Dempsey's receptionist) and a few others. Great parody and homage at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Would "Pretty Woman" be in the Fish out of Water Genre? (Gere?) Or is there a seperate Pygmalion category

Anonymous said...

Agree with everything you said, Ken (except I have a generally higher opinion of Menken and Schwartz's previous work). Looking over the field, I think Adams has a real shot at a nomination (having previously been nominated for a little-seen indie suggests she has made fans in the Academy).

I'm a bit surprised that some folks were put off by the previews. I thought they did a decent job of putting over the premise. I was interested in seeing it from the beginning, though I admit a lot of that was due to Adams.

Screenwriter Bill Kelly also co-wrote (with WKRP creator Hugh Wilson) another good (but underrated) fish-out-of-water story, "Blast from the Past." Like "Enchanted," it features an innocent thrust into the big, bad city. Kelly also wrote this year's rather unfortunate Sandra Bullock vehicle, the time-bending "Premonition." Nice rebound.

Anonymous said...

Funny story...my girlfriend works for Bissell, and their vacuum is in the movie. So Bissell had a special sneak preview for employees a week before the movie opens, and when their product appears on screen the theatre erupts in cheers, etc.

Based only on that "scientific" reaction, Adams may have competition for the nomination.

Anonymous said...

Both my six year-old daughter and five year-old son loved Enchanted. And I was startled at how much I enjoyed it too. Amy Adams may or may not get an Oscar nomination, but she's sure to have an amazing career after this.

While there are parodic elements to Enchanted, it's not a parody in the vein of, say, Airplane or Police Squad or there bazillions of imitators. Every cliche that's skewered in Enchanted still somehow manages to push the story forward -- theses aren't just jokes for jokes' sake, but elements that bring out the characters and move the plot. It's one thing to string together a bunch of skits, something else to create a character like Adams' Giselle and make the audience care about her while the jokes keep coming.

And the songs are great. And cockroaches are great. And the pigeons are great. And the pigeon that just can't help being pigeon when there's a tasty co-worker nearby is even better.

Looking back over the year there have already been some really solid movies. Michael Clayton was great and Before The Devil Knows You're Dead was absolutely astonishing. But the two movies I've enjoyed most have been films I wouldn't have seen if I weren't being dragged there by my kids -- Enchanted and Ratatouille.

Anonymous said...

I saw this with my 9- and 11-year-old daughters, wife, and sister-in-law at Thanksgiving -- in a hometown theater I hadn't been in since I was a teenager (1970s) -- and I agree that it was very well put together. The songs (especially the one that pops up throughout, "True Love's Kiss") were expert. The vermin-cleaning-the-apartment scene was reminiscent of the cockroach production numbers in the mid-'90s movie JOE'S APARTMENT with Jerry O'Connell; I wonder if that was one of the inspirations for ENCHANTED -- not literally, but as an example of how to be properly irreverent when mixing humans and animated critters in a scene (in contrast to, for example, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, which, despite the jokes, was nothing if not reverent).

Anonymous said...

I there isn't an Oscar for Best Supporting Chipmunk, there otter be.

Anonymous said...

Me: another 50 yr old, but with two sons. I had seen the previews and thought this was either gonna be tremendous or total crap. Great was my relief and surprise at how enjoyable it was. Mrs. Me, the Boys of Me and Dad of Me in town for Thanksgiving all had a grand old time. I still find myself humming "I've been dreaming of a love like this..." from the ever-so-Broadway score.

And yeah, guys do all want to bang the Little Mermaid. And Belle, too (she's spunky).

Anonymous said...

When I saw Amy Adams in "Catch Me If You Can" I was amazed at how committed she was to the part. You had to pay attention to her even when she was with Di Caprio, which is saying something. She has shown this commitment in every movie she's been in. Unfortunately, it made her stick out in "Talledega Nights" because no one else bought in like she did. What a waste. I saw "Enchanted" because she's in it but also because I love Disney movies and animation. It was a great win-win for men like me. When we talk to women, we can talk about the variety of styles and the quality of the animation. When we talk our buddies, we can talk about Amy.

Stella Louise said...

I've heard a lot of good things about Enchanted--but after reading your review, I know I HAVE to see it!

Anonymous said...

benson, re the Bissell vacuum's Oscar chances, I'd say they're pretty good. The Academy has often nominated performers who suck. (Somebody had to say it.)

anonymous: "If there isn't an Oscar for Best Supporting Chipmunk, there otter be."

Particularly this year, when there are actually enough chipmunk performances to make it a real horse race. I have to say that the new "Alvin" trailer (which preceded "Enchantment") is a vast improvement over the infamous "raisin poop" trailer. I'm almost embarrassed to say it got a couple of chuckles out of me. Maybe it won't be quite the disaster I was anticipating (still doubt I'll see it in the theater though).

Anonymous said...

Universal tried to start an Amy Adams fan club promoting Charlie Wilson’s War in the guy’s home state -- down here in the ague belt. But Charlie is already in a club with those initials and Sorkin agreed an extra Aa would be superfluous. Sure looks like a powerhouse cast though.

PS. Word is out that, because of the strike, Touchstone will shoot Annapolis 2 without a script, or any arc whatsoever -- just like this week’s peace talks.

Anonymous said...

The "hag makeup" credit for Rick Baker just goes along with his myriad of gorilla suit credits over the years:


(Hey, didn't M*A*S*H have an epsiode where Hawkeye and Trapper dressed up in gorilla suits? Maybe Rick was a consultant on that one.)

As for the movie, I'm just happy someone at Disney remembered the company used to make a movie or two in 2-D animation, even if they actually had to hire an outside company to do the animation work for this film, since the departed Michael Eisner and his crew had decided CGI was the wave of the future and killed off the regular animation department (the idea until recently apparently being you can put any crappy script on the screen as long as it was in computer animation and people would flock to the theaters).

Josh said...

I absolutely agree on Amy Adams. It feels odd to say this about (literally) a cartoonish performance full of life and joy, but I somehow she made it seem like she was on the verge of heartbreak every second. Total commitment to the character.

James Marsden had the same commitment, but even less dimension to his character. Let's call it one and a half.

Anonymous said...

Having met some of the people involved with this movie, I know that it took them a lo-o-o-ng time to get it going, with a lot of roadblocks along the way. So congratulations to the writer and producers for their persistence, which obviously paid off.

Alto2 said...

We took my mother and the kids to see it last weekend. My mother hated it -- think the hag in the movie -- and the kids loved it. My favorite part was when the Princess calls her NYC animal friends to come help clean the apartment. Absolutely, flat-out hysterical when the rats, mosquitoes, pigeons, and cockroaches show up to clean the place. Too funny.

Anonymous said...

24/m and I agree wholeheartedly.

Amy Adams was the realization of my pre-pubescent crush on Ariel.
Seeing her so animated, innocent, optimistic (and all done naturally without irony) was just very appealing.

Anonymous said...

I just saw this movie Saturday. Your post on it was part of the reason. I hate Disney, I hate animated. I did see a few promos, watching ET to see Donny Osmond (stop laughing NOW)

The movie was as you said. My 42 year old brother and I had a ball. It seemed every time anything was funny I clapped my hands (I adore parody) and so did he.

Plus, being male and 42, he is in love with Amy too.

It's not just 13 year old girls that want the DVD to this. (not to mention the soundtrack!)