Wednesday, 28 May 2008

DVD: Enchanted

Lowdown: Disney pretends to do a parody on its own films.
Back when I was a child The Magical World of Disney came to symbolize everything that's magical. I clearly remember how we would all gather at 17:30 in front of the TV to witness the fate of the latest wandering dog, bear, or any other weird animal Disney chose to focus on that week.
With time, however, I grew to despise Disney. The guy himself doesn't seem to have been the world's greatest humanitarian to say the least, and the studio is the emblem of commercialism and shallowness. Other than the Pixar films, everything Disney made since Aladdin reeks of capitalism's worst.
Apparently, that is exactly the starting point of Enchanted, a film that tries to capitalize on the cynicism we viewers have developed towards Disney. We start off in an animated world framed at a 4:3 aspect ratio and we're introduced to Giselle, a Snow White / Cinderella / Sleeping Beauty like oppressed princess that is withheld from her Prince Charming by the evil mother in law sorceress queen. As the couple is finally about to get together, the evil queen throws them separately into the real world - framed at 2.35:1. That is, they're chucked out in the middle of Times Square while totally unaware of the differences between their world and the real one. Those differences are what the film stands on: By mocking the unrealistic nature of the Disney cartoons of yonder it creates numerous laughs.
Eventually but pretty quickly Giselle is saved by a single father lawyer who is totally disenchanted with life and relationships. From that point onwards you can pretty much guess how the film is going to end like, and although I will not explicitly say how it ends I will add that your guess is 100% correct.
There are several critical problems with Enchanted. For a start, it is a musical, with that dreaded implication - more often than not characters just burst into song. How disgusting.
Second, there are some gross inconsistencies all over the place. People don't believe Giselle when she tells her story, but then they go on doing stuff that can only be accepted if they were to actually believe her. We're not supposed to notice these inconsistencies because we know that Giselle is telling the truth about the world she's coming from, but hey - if you were to be told Giselle's story, you wouldn't believe it; why do the people on the screen accept it? Given the context and the overall lightness of the film these inconsistencies are not the world's worst problem, but I was still annoyed because the filmmakers could have easily bypassed the problem altogether.
The problem that is pivotal and does ruin my enchantment with Enchanted is the film's boomerang effect on the Disney message. The film's entire premises is it mocking the old pretentious values of Disney's films; yet it joins in alliance with those very same values long before it quits joking on itself and we viewers lose as we end up with yet another typical Disney film reeking of capitalism's worst.
Worst scene:
Giselle savior's daughter has some quality mother/daughter like time with Giselle. What do they do together? What is the peak aspiration of a teenager that finally gets a worthy mother replacement? Well, lest we forget what Disney stands for, they go shopping.
My partner pointed out that shopping with her mother is nice. I agree: there could definitely be some fun in the process. However, does the fun come from the shopping, or does it come from spending time together? Why don't the film characters as well as real characters spend some proper quality time together instead of opting to waste it on shopping? Is it because they lack the capacity to think up a worthier experience to share?
I'll put it this way: I would much rather go for an aimless walk with my son or with my father and discuss, say, a book or a film we both read. Or at least start with that and see where we end up at. But shopping? No, thanks.
Technical assessment: Say what you say about Disney, they know how to produce a DVD.
Overall: Ideological criticism aside, Enchanted is still a funny film that just scratches the 3 out of 5 stars mark.

1 comment:

Moshe Reuveni said...

One comment I forgot to make:
The lead male role? The acting? Pretty bad.