Thursday, June 7, 2012

Enchanted

Enchanted
seen on TV @ Oxygen
6.5.12

When I lived in Columbus, I would often check out DVDs from the excellent, award-winning library system. Whenever I passed the kids section, I'd see Enchanted on the shelf, and though I was tempted to take it out, I never did. I guess I was a little embarrassed by it. I remember when it came out. I knew the premise, and I remember seeing Amy Adams perform the songs from the movie at the Oscars (for awhile there was talk of a possible Best Actress nomination for her), but I could never bring myself to actually watch it - until Tuesday night, when I happened to see it playing, on the Oxygen Channel, of all places.


As you might imagine, though I grew up watching Disney animated films like everyone else, my head was never stuffed with fairy-tale fantasies of rescuing princesses from dragons or evil queens or what have you. I was too busy reading superhero comics! Still, I can see real-world parallels to the little-girl fantasy of being good and virtuous so that a handsome prince can come save her - isn't that basically the notion of the Second Coming of Jesus in a different form? They're both so easy to buy into because they both require nothing from you other than blind faith, despite the total lack of empirical evidence, as we all discovered a little over a year ago.




The feminist movement, of course, has taken the fantasy of passively waiting for Prince Charming and beaten it over the head with a baseball bat, but like the Second Coming concept, it refuses to die - and Disney has had a lot to do with that. They've made a pretty penny with their Princesses marketing scheme in recent years, and as a result, they've brainwashed a whole new generation of little girls into thinking that they're princesses in their own right. Harmless indulgence in fantasy, or subservience to male power?


So along comes Enchanted, which attempts to straddle the line between the classical ideal of being a docile, passive princess in thrall to her prince; and the modern ideal of being a freethinking, active woman who stands side-by-side with her man as equals. And it just barely works, I think. I expected Giselle to become "corrupted" by her time in the real world and become a completely modern woman, making her incapable of returning to the "animated world," but it doesn't play out quite that way. Giselle seems like a more balanced woman in the end...




...and it's all thanks to Twoo Wuv! Okay, even I am not so much of a cynical bastard to think that this, too, is a fantasy. I've known it myself; I know that it's real and that it can last. What I like about how it's addressed in Enchanted is that it's looked at from both sides: the Wuv of your life may be someone you don't (or can't) recognize on the one hand, but also, the one you're so sure about may not be the one that's right for you. Tricky thing, Wuv.




Once upon a time, I had Twoo Wuv in my hands but didn't know how to keep it, and the older I get, the more convinced I am that I won't get it back - at the very least, not in the same form. Why is it so hard to keep? You could say it's because modern life makes it so difficult, but that doesn't feel like the right answer. We all want the same basic things now as we did thousands of years ago. No, I think the problem is us, as flawed, messy, confused and generally fucked-up as we are. And it doesn't help when we grow up seeing Twoo Wuv fantasies - such as the ones Disney has churned out for decades - played out again and again, making us believe that it's waiting right around the corner for all of us. Still, we keep believing in it. Why? Maybe because it simply helps us get through the day.


(One more thing: putting Idina Menzel in a musical and not having her sing is like putting John Wayne in a western and not having him shoot anybody.)

4 comments:

  1. I actually really liked Enchanted, speaking as someone who is not a Disney fan.
    I'm convinced my view of the world has been skewed by too many happy-ever-after films and as a result I'm really cynical. This one though I thought was good.
    Great review btw x

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  2. Oh, I liked it too. Was that not clear?

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  3. My favorite character is the squirrel.

    I'm surprised you didn't go into how amazingly star-studded the cast of this, even though at the time it wasn't. Amy Adams' biggest role at that point was Super Ex-Girlfriend, Marsden was in rebuild move after 3 X-Men flicks and Dempsey was just building the Dr. McDreamy brand. Still it was star-studded in retrospect. Along with Spall and Sarandon whose performances made the film.

    I should note I caught this on Oxygen again since I was waiting for Glee Project. I'd seen like 3 times before though.

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  4. I didn't even realize that was James Marsden until seeing his name on the IMDB page for this film. Speaking of Marsden, have you seen this?
    http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/the-most-screwed-over-man-in-history-movies/

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