Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I haven't written about movies in a while. Let me catch up.

Enchanted (2007): One of the movie's least remarked on jokes is that no one in Manhattan blinks an eyelash when Amy Adams' cartoon princess steps out of a manhole cover in Guinevere drag; it says little when prince James Marsden jumps atop a crosstown bus with a sword. But disrupt rush hour traffic and they get PISSED. Sure, it's New York -- its citizens are accustomed to oddities -- but it's no accident that the characters materialize in Times Square, practically owned by the Walt Disney Company, which also produced this film. America has become an extension of the Magic Kingdom; thus, the callow likes of divorce lawyer Patrick Dempsey (as Adams' real true love) incarnates the fantasies of millions of little girls. Why believe in lovelorn princes when a bland flesh and blood one with a six-figure salary makes for an able substitute?

Still, this is a pretty good spoof; a multibillion dollar behemoth like Disney can afford to be generous. During one of my last visits to Walt Disney World, we ate a character buffet, at which we were visited by, in quick succession, Alice (from Alice in Wonderland), Belle, and Piglet. Amy Adams reminded me of those young women. There isn't a scintilla of irony in her performance; she's committed to playing Disney's conception of a princess as fully as Ronald Reagan played an American president. Like Reagan, you don't dare make fun of her to her face: she wouldn't get it, so fully do they inhabit their parts. Meanwhile Marsden, relieved that he wasn't cast in the Dempsey-patsy role for once, mugs and throws his stumpy arms hither and thither as if he's never heard of Errol Flynn.

Amidst the amiable jabs at pop psychology and modern publishing (as well as an unexpected twist on a familiar denouement between a dragon and the True Love), there's a truly sinister conclusion: Adams heads a booming princess-gown trade in a place that looks a lot like a gift shop on Main Street, U.S.A. You can argue that she teaches other girls to enact the fantasy she's made flesh (literally), but the glint in her eyes doesn't just signify a determination to believe in true love -- it also projects a yen for lucre. Imagine Snow White and her prince moving to a loft on the Upper East Side to manage their plush toy business. Its most popular items? The Seven Dwarfs.

1 comment:

Hans said...

This movie was Adams', she sold her character in unexpected ways. There's no claiming the movie is GOOD, but she was certainly GREAT in it.