Prince Edward (James Marsden, right) emerges from the portal (a Times Square manhole) connecting the animated and live-action worlds of <em>Enchanted</em>.

Prince Edward (James Marsden, right) emerges from the portal (a Times Square manhole) connecting the animated and live-action worlds of Enchanted.


Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, and Susan Sarandon star in a film written by Bill Kelly and directed by Kevin Lima.

An entertaining combination of animation and live action (but heavy on the latter), Enchantedtakes every trope of classic Disney animation-helpful forest critters, love at first sight, poisoned apples, the very concept of the movie musical-and puts them up against the forces of modernity, with unexpected results: an updated fairy tale that could almost be characterized as feminist.

Enchanted follows the basic Snow White storyline, with a little Cinderella thrown in. Giselle (Amy Adams), a would-be princess exiled from her animated storybook home by the power-hungry Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), ends up a live person in New York City, where her innocent forest ways get mixed results: A transient steals her tiara, but animals-pigeons, roaches, and rats-still do her bidding. Meanwhile, single dad Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a sensible divorce lawyer, sends his young daughter Morgan (Rachel Covey) to karate lessons and gets her books on influential women, discouraging “that fairy tale stuff.” Unable to resist Morgan’s pleas, he takes in Giselle, even though her talk of sleeping in a hollow tree and the prince who’s coming to find her convinces him that she’s deranged. Naturally, these two have a lot to learn from each other. Giselle realizes she’d like to get to know Prince Edward (James Marsden) a little better before their wedding, and she experiences anger for the first time. For his part, sensible Robert-about to propose to his longtime girlfriend, a woman he’s clearly not passionate about-starts to believe in the power of true love.

Enchanted will be hugely popular with children, but it’s sophisticated enough to charm adults as well. Bowing to the cynic in all of us, it dares to contemplate the vapidity of fairy tales, while also acknowledging that even the most pragmatic among us long for true love and happy endings. And besides, it’s so refreshing to see Giselle-who’s spent the whole movie waiting to be rescued-grab a sword in the climactic showdown with Narissa and charge off to save her beloved. In the wonderful world of Disney, a princess who does the rescuing is progress indeed.

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