Daniel Smith 16/01/2008
Disney films aren't exactly the cinema critic's poison of choice, and it's easy to see why. Enjoying them often requires a childlike optimism that journalists, paid cynics, lack by default. While it's true that the house that Mickey built has indeed forged a number of more rounded gems enjoyable by young and old alike (The Lion King, Toy Story et al) Enchanted isn't one of them.
The film begins in a beautifully animated kingdom, where Princess Giselle finally finds her 'true love', in the form of Prince Charming, in the film's first five minutes. However, fearing that she'll lose her power if the two wed, Charming's evil stepmother sends Giselle into a world where dreams never come true (our own, naturally) and from here on out the film totally live action, save for a liberal application of cute CG animals. After being befriended by a slick but emotionally challenged inner city lawyer, Giselle is followed to New York by Charming and his evil stepmother, whereupon the fantasy hijinks properly begin, as the three cartoon characters chase each other around New York with a gaggle of real life hangers-on in tow, to the cumulative tune of some wittily penned musical numbers.
There's no escaping it; Enchanted is wrist slittingly sweet from start to finish, making it quite the endurance test for anybody over the age of eleven. It's not that there's anything overtly wrong or off putting here; the performances in the live action pieces (particularly Amy Adam's Giselle) are all excellent, and the brief animated sections are some of the most beautiful ever committed to celluloid - its just that the story lacks the more mature or complex themes that are often omnipresent in Disney's best work. Consequently, Enchanted is never going to stand up to the exhaustive, academic scrutiny of a Times film critic, for example, but it shouldn't be written off because of this. Sure, it won't go down in the annals of history like some of its stablemates', but the film will certainly succeed in its perennial dictum of capturing young imaginations the world over, and when all's said and done - what else matters?