Enchanted review

Once upon a time, fairytales were told straight. But ever since DreamWorks’ Shrek stomped on the genre, it’s been de rigueur for storybook characters to talk street, go base-jumping and quote The Godfather. Something like that, anyway. Not quite crumbling to peer pressure, Enchanted sees Disney have its fairy-cake and eat it, ribbing its own heritage while retaining a dollop of innocence.

It’s a fish-out-of-water yarn whose heroine Giselle (Amy Adams) is quite a catch. The prenuptial princess is warped by a wicked queen (Susan Sarandon) from her cartoon world into a live-action, latter-day Manhattan. Here she pratfalls about in a voluminous wedding dress, before being taken in by single-dad lawyer Robert (Patrick Dempsey), whose heart she inevitably stirs. Meanwhile, scripter Bill Kelly reheats the main riff from his earlier Blast From The Past, locating mirth in the collision between out-of-step innocent and modern morals. The cheekiest laugh comes when Giselle rounds up the local vermin (pigeons, rats, roaches) Snow White-style, for a bout of spring cleaning. Elsewhere, musical cliché is affectionately spoofed by characters launching spontaneously into song, a gag that keeps giving thanks to ear-catching ditties by Mouse House stalwart Alan Menken.

Alas, not everything’s in tune. A perfectly cast Sarandon barely gets her talons into the picture until the climax (where’s it all goes a little CG). Dempsey, on the other hand, doesn’t so much underplay his role as look half-asleep. The 2D animated bookends also fall shy of vintage Disney, while the (sincere) echoes of bedtime classics (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty) don’t quite recapture the originals’ magic.

A big cheer, then, for Adams, who prances, dances, witters and warbles with enough energy to outlast a whole warren’s worth of Duracell bunnies. Every iota the Disney princess made flesh, she also gives Giselle added dimension as the wide-eyed royal grows increasingly earthly. It’s a larger-than-life act, but never so shrill as to make you want to kick her back down the manhole from which she enters our world.

Subversive enough for older brother, sweet enough for kid sis, this cine-panto's a safe if not spectacular choice for a Chrimbo family outing. The cartoon chipmunk almost steals it, but Adams' dippy dazzle is the movie's heart, soul and lungs.

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