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The Scrambler
a review

It has been a very long time since I saw a movie that made me laugh out loud more
times than I could count, a movie at the end of which ½ the audience burst into
spontaneous applause to share how much they enjoyed it. Both happened when I saw
“Enchanted,” the new Disney movie.
“Enchanted” is sweet but not saccharine, an updated fairy tale. Yes, “Enchanted” is a
fairy tale, and acknowledging its roots, it borrows from and pays homage to, among
others, “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Snow White,” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
But lest you see this as evidence for saccharine aftertaste, it also pays homage to
“Gone with the Wind” and “King Kong.”
“Enchanted” begins in animated form, with our heroine, Giselle (voiced by Amy
Adams, “Junebug”), in a cottage in the woods singing and generally having fun with
her woodland creature friends who talk to her and are eager to help her. When an
ogre carries her off, she is rescued by dim but brave and true Prince Edward (James
Marsden, “X-Men”), and the 2 promptly plan to marry. His evil stepmother (that’s right,
his) can’t allow this to happen and lose her queenly power, so she tricks Giselle and
pushes her into a fountain. Giselle falls and falls , and ends up in modern day New
York City, no longer animated.
Until this point, the movie plays like a generic fairy tale, but at this crucial juncture,
literally everything changes, and not just that Giselle is no longer voiced by Amy
Adams but played by her. With the introduction of the “real” world, the innocent,
simplistic animated world is gone, but Giselle has no frame of reference for this and
tries to carry on as usual. She is more confused and frightened than is she were lost
in the Black Forest. Seeing a little person, she cries out in relief, “Grumpy!” His
response? “Are you for real, lady?”
Enter Robert (Patrick Dempsey, “Grey’s Anatomy”) a jaded (ok, jaded for Disney)
lawyer handling a high profile divorce case. He is a single father, fulfilling the unwritten
rule that Disney characters not have a living, or at least a present, mother. Robert and
his daughter , Morgan, come across Giselle, who has by now been robbed and
caught in the rain. Listening to her catalog her misfortunes, Robert ignores her claims
about having been about to marry the prince and focuses on her complaint about
people in this city being mean to her. “Welcome to New York,” he quips, and literal-
minded Giselle answers gushingly, “ Oh, thank you!”
Robert and Morgan help Giselle to get a more real world outlook on life and love,
though she still sees life’s epitome as “true love’s kiss,” makes dresses out of
curtains, and waits for her prince to come. However, she is also very game and
optimistic while bonding with motherless Morgan and helping Robert make romantic
gestures with his girlfriend Nancy. Like in any other Disney fairy tale, Giselle bursts
into song, much to Robert’s discomfort and the general amusement of Central Park.
When Prince Edward, the evil queen’s henchman, Giselle’s chipmunk friend Pip (no,
not Chip nor Dale), and eventually the evil queen herself (Susan Sarandon, having the
time of her life) pursue Giselle to New York for various reasons things get more
complicated and more funny. The 2 main musical numbers are both played largely for
laughs, and the lyrics of the song she sings while cleaning Robert’s apartment,
assisted by eager-to-help city vermin, are hilarious.
In the movie’s climax, Giselle saves her hero, setting the usual damsel in distress riff
on its head. Unlike other Disney fairy tales, here romantic spoilers aren’t evil people
but are genuinely nice, another effective change. Of course, everyone lives happily
ever after, but what form this takes for what people may be a surprise to some. I
suppose this movie could prompt a gag reflex in the very jaded, but for the rest of us
there is enough cleverness to make the concoction go down delightfully.
*Heather Craig lives in Davis, California.