Sunday, November 25, 2007

Enchanted (2007, Kevin Lima)

So here it is, a Disney Princess™ movie for a post-feminist generation, in which the little girls still love their princesses but mom and dad want positive female role models for their daughters. What is an international multimedia conglomerate to do? "It's only a movie!" they say. "It's just for fun, so sit back and enjoy the ride!" But setting aside the fact that there may potentially BE an Enchanted ride in Disney's future, there's something sticking in my craw about the movie. Yes, it's kind of entertaining in its way, with the wide-eyed charm of Amy Adams and lively supporting work from James Marsden (so much more fun to watch now that he's embraced the square-jawed goofball within) and the ever-reliable Timothy Spall. But in an attempt to appeal to the princess-loving girls and appease their parents, the message at the heart of Enchanted becomes so muddled that it's hard not to doubt its sincerity. The filmmakers are at great pains to paint Princess Giselle as a strong young woman, even picking up a sword at the end to help save the day and ensure a happy ending, but the truth is that this is still the story of a girl who just wants to find true love and falls (1) at the drop of a hat for a prince that just so happens to catch her as she falls from a tree, and (2) for the first guy in New York City who shows any kindness whatsoever, who just happens to be a single dad played by hunky Patrick Dempsey. On top of that, there's an insidious undercurrent of little-girl wish fulfillment here, in which problems can be solved by singing a happy song, or worse, by stealing daddy's credit card and shopping 'til you drop (spend the pain away, girls!). There's an early scene in the film in which Dempsey gives a book about accomplished women throughout history to his clearly uninterested daughter- the same little girl who falls for Giselle soon thereafter. The camera lingers on the photographs in the book- Rosa Parks, Marie Curie- clearly underlining how old and plain-looking they are. Is Disney trying to teach children that the only women worth admiring are young and pretty? Also, the evil queen Narissa spends almost all her time decked out in a vampy black getup- when she isn't disguised as an old hag or transformed into a dragon. But you get the idea- feminism this ain't, no matter how hard it tries to tell us otherwise. Rating: 4 out of 10.

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