Sunday, March 23, 2008

Enchanted! I (kinda) am! Out now, fer da kids. (******6/10)

The beginning of Enchanted stressed me out a lot. It is painfully irritating in that Disney princess kind of way. The girl is singing in her hut in the forest, she's a poor working girl who is friends with all the woodland creatures. The chipmunks and owls and foxes and such are not eating each other, because they are busy helping her sew her dress. She sings about the man she wants to marry, and True Love's Kiss or something like that. Then she meets the man, of course he is a prince, she will never have to work again and he rides away with her on his white stallion. NOW she'll be able to buy all the dresses and diamonds she wants, and tell commoners like herself what to do. What a life! What a dream come true! Now, I must say that I knew a little about Enchanted already. I knew that this was supposed to be a satirical moment in the film, and as satire, it was terrific. That song is as good as the songs in Spinal Tap for dripping with sincerity while at the same time oozing ironic excess. The beginning WAS beautifully done. But that didn't stop it from irritating me with the familiarity to all other Disney Princess motifs.

Then the real movie begins. The wicked step-mother (because in Disney all girls marry princes and all step-mothers are wicked. Or evil. But mostly wicked) would have to give up her throne if her step-son married, so she banishes this girl to...real-life. Manhattan, specifically. I think Moose Jaw would have been much funnier, but I guess it's less familiar and Disney is all about the money. Which, I realized, is why this movie is a family movie. I don't think I have ever seen a movie that cries out for an R-rating as much as this one. And I mean that with dripping sincerity while simultaneously oozing ironic excess. And it's not that I want to see Amy Adams naked. OK, it's not just that I want to see Amy Adams naked. It's that so many scenes cry out for nudity, violence, and most of all swearing. When Amy Adams emerges from a Manhattan sewer in her ridiculous princess wedding dress, and runs afoul of various angry New York residents, the proper response is not "are you OK", it's "are you f-ing mental, you lunatic?" When the prince shows up and follows her through the city, attacking people with his sword, it would be far funnier if he actually stabbed people and maybe killed a few. And when Amy Adams comes out of the shower and is caught in a compromising position with Patrick Dempsey by his girlfriend, some nudity would have been a propos.

But I digress. The important thing here is that Enchanted shows that in the real world, a Disney princess would be less a princess than an idiot. And I'm begging for the destruction of the princess myth, the ethos that creates gold-diggers at a young age! Amy Adams is terrific as the wide-eyed, totally clueless roses-and-fairies-and-bunnies princess who is totally lost in the real world. The main problem with the movie, however, is that she never knows she's lost. She has no idea that she is a weirdo, and no one seems willing to fully point that out to her. The songs strike the right note of sugary-sweet parody, but the movie falls short. Mainly because insteand of crushing her spirit and showing her that she is an idiot, it does the opposite. As she goes around in the real world, SHE changes the WORLD. Example: Patrick Dempsey's girlfriend catches him with a naked hot chick. She is furious, and runs off. But when flowers magically show up at her office along with tickets to...a ball...she forgives everything and looks the other way. Why? Because she is being treated like a princess! And she LOVES it.

So...this is what a princess does. She gets dressed up in fancy clothes. Attends fancy events. Has things bought for her and receives compliments about her loveliness. And this movie, rather than mocking that concept as fully as it ought to be mocked, reinforces it. It shows that being a totally shallow, substance-free woman is the ultimate goal for everyone, and it can change the world! One pom-pom and Singapore Sling at a time. All that aside, I did enjoy the movie. There were some good moments, including one with rats and cockroaches and pigeons, and the songs were absolutely perfect. If they were meant to be ironic. But boy, what I wouldn't have given for an R-rating. Or Abel Ferrara as the director.

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