I went prepared to like this film, having seen previews and read other reviews, so it was totally up to the film itself to lose me as a fan. The film begins with animated characters in the hand drawn (NOT computer animation, thank heavens!) Disney fashion, not a well drawn as in "Little Mermaid" but definitely better than the usual Saturday morning cartoon style. Now for me here is the kicker...the whole sequence was a parody of every Disney fairytale cartoon movie that I'd seen. At first I thought that Giselle was supposed to be a Cinderella type character, but then she had a rapport with the forest animals like in Snow White, but I was fooled again into thinking she was like Sleeping Beauty hiding in the forest from the evil witch. The result was a hilarious send up, and when the animals themselves spoke in irreverent terms and behaved in un-Disney like fashion I was convinced! This film was not taking itself seriously and should NOT be taken seriously. Hurray!!!
But the real pleasure was when the “live action” had begun. Not since “Legally Blonde”, with Reese Witherspoon, has a leading lady taken over the screen in purely comedic fashion. I fell in love with Giselle, not for her beauty alone, (and she IS lovely to look at) but also for the purity and innocence her character projected. Just as Reese maintained her characterization throughout the who film so too does Amy carry her character through to its logical conclusion. I will henceforth remember Amy Adams as “Giselle” until I see her in a serious role.
And what a coup it was to cast Sarandon in the role as the evil queen. I have consistently disliked her characters, whether bleeding heart or otherwise, so this one played right into my own personal bias in a great way.
Zippiest of all is the transported Prince himself - a witless but earnest fop who arrives, puffy sleeves intact, in the person of X-Man James Marsden. Here he proves he can mug with the best of them, ripping off broad physical comedy and prissy hammy mannerisms with flat-out killer timing. Clueless from the outset, he does nothing to change the viewers’ minds. A great role!
Even though the plot sequences were not always logical I still loved the whole park musical scene and the theme stuck with me the rest of the evening. It reminded me of the whole “Kiss the Girl” sequence in “The Little Mermaid” animated feature. I think I have to thank Alan Mencken and Stephen Schwartz for this, who do a parody the swoopy anthems and sweetie-pie ballads of typical Disney standards.
The ending is entirely pre-packaged and foreordained, and if you can't predict what happens, you don't know your poison apples from your singing princesses. But, hey, I didn’t mind, it was all so much fun! And I’ll tell you a little secret if you promise not to spread it around…A certain Grouch could be seen with tears in his eyes a couple of times. Shhhhh!