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Will "Enchanted" clean up at the box office this Thanksgiving?

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Will "Enchanted" clean up at the box office this Thanksgiving?

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Giselle28 writes in to say:

I really enjoyed the stories that you recently posted on JHM about "Ratatouille" and "WALL-E." But when are you going to write about the movie that I'm most looking forward to this year, "Enchanted" ? Do you have any new spoilers to share with your readers about this new Kevin Lima film?


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

You could say that.

Last month, I was lucky enough to see a five minute long excerpt from this live action / animated romantic comedy with music. And based on what I saw, "Enchanted" could really be something special.

Of course, before I can discuss this scene, I first have to explain the basic premise behind Walt Disney Pictures' big holiday release for 2007. And -- in order to do that -- I'm going to have to reveal a certain portion of this motion picture's plot.

So if you really don't want to know anything about "Enchanted" before it hits theaters on November 21st, now would be a very good time to bail out of JHM.

 

Still with us? Okay. Here goes ....

 

"Enchanted" opens in the animated fairy tale land of Andalusia. Where the beautiful Princess Giselle ...


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

... has fallen for Edward, the handsome prince of this realm.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Unfortunately, these two's plans to wed upsets Edward's mother, the wicked Queen Narissa.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Since she thinks that no woman is ever good enough for her son, Narissa uses her talent for the dark arts to trick Giselle. After first disguising herself as an ugly old crone, the queen then lures this naive young girl (On her wedding day, of all days) to what she says is a magical wishing well.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

But as Giselle is getting ready to make her wish, Narissa actually pushes her into the well. Which turns out to be this portal between the fairy tale realm and our world. Which is why this formerly animated beauty eventually emerges from a manhole in the middle of Times Square as a real-live human being.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Or should I say a real-live Disney Princess? Which means that Giselle is an absolute innocent among all of these jaded New Yorkers. Trying to apply what she knows of her world in our own. Which is why -- as this sweet young thing bumps into a disgruntled little person as she crosses Eighth Avenue -- Giselle calls after him, saying "Grumpy? Is that you?"

Finally, seeing this fish-out-of-water flail her way around NYC, handsome divorce attorney Robert Phillips (Played by Patrick Dempsey of "Grey's Anatomy" fame) takes pity on poor Giselle (The human version of this sweet character is played by talented newcomer Amy Adams). Which is why Phillips invites the girl to come stay at his apartment with Robert's daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey).


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

As this cynical attorney and former toon spend more & more time together, Giselle find herself falling for Robert. And Phillips also develops strong feelings for this rather bizarre but extremely beautiful young woman.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

But what Giselle doesn't know is that Prince Edwards has decided to mount a rescue mission for his missing bride. So he too jumps into that magical wishing well back in Andalusia, zooms through the portal and eventually emerged in modern day Manhattan as a really-for-real flesh & blood handsome prince.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

And if Prince Edwards has journeyed into the human world, can his mother -- the evil Queen Narissa -- be all that far behind?

Okay. That brings you up to speed on the basic plot and premise of "Enchanted." But what the above bare-bones outline really doesn't do is reveal how sweet & smart this Barry Sonnenfeld production is. How cleverly it takes those fairy tale conventions that we've seen in Disney's "Snow White," "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty" and then reuses them in new & clever ways.

Take -- for example -- what happens when Giselle decides to show her gratitude to Robert by cleaning up his filthy apartment. She starts out as every Disney princess does when she faces a situation like this. By bursting into song.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

And -- of course -- Giselle's singing voice is so beautiful that it automatically lures all of these creatures out of the forest. And they immediately pitch in and start to help the princess clean up Robert's apartment.

But let's remember that this is New York, folks. And there are no forests nearby. Just a somewhat dingy inner city park. So who comes to Giselle's aid but rats, pigeons and roaches.

Still, this Disney Princess isn't bothered by the somewhat shabby assortment of creatures who come to help her. She's just grateful that they're there. So Giselle just keeps singing as this sea of roaches come swirling up out of the drain and then remove all of the soap scum from the tub. And as a dozen or more rats jump into the kitchen sink and begin scrubbing the dirty dishes.

And throughout this effects-laden sequence, Giselle dances around the apartment singing "The Happy Working Song." Which is one of the five new tunes that Alan Menken & Stephen Schwartz have written for "Enchanted." Though "The Happy Working Song" may eventually receive special recognition from musical theater fans. Given that it's the very first uptempo number (To my knowledge, anyway) that rhymes "determine" with "vermin."

FYI: All of the CG critters that help Giselle clean up Robert's apartment? They're being rendered by the effects wizards at Tippett Studio. That Berkeley, CA.-based FX operation is handling the computer-animated characters who appear in the live action portions of this Walt Disney Pictures release.

Anywho ... Given how witty and well-staged the "Happy Working Song" sequence of this film is, I'm beginning to think that "Enchanted" (Which Disney is already promoting as "A classic fairy tale for the real world" as well as "A modern day fairy tale with a twist") could be a really huge hit for the Mouse House. That it won't be just traditional animation fans who will be turning out in droves to see the wonderful work that James Baxter's team has done on this ambitious live action / animated project. But also teens & romantic comedy fans, who will be won over by Bill Kelly's clever screenplay.

I know that -- in the weeks and months ahead -- all eyes will be how well "Meet the Robinsons," "Shrek the Third" and "Ratatouille" do. But trust me, folks. Come November of this year, "Enchanted" may be the one that really cleans up at the box office.

Your thoughts?

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  • The slogan, "A classic fairy tale for the real world", would be the wiser way to go, to distance this film from anything regarding Shrek.

    It sounds from the premise alone, Disney has all of the essential elements in place for this movie to be a real hit. It has: 1) a REAL princess tale, 2) Broadway-like songs (a perfect fit for its Manhattan setting), 3) a cast where celebs are only PART of the main entree, and most importantly, 4) the long-awaited return of hand-drawn animation.  

    Subject this to an audience who, in only a few short years, have become fed up with 1) non-fairy tales, 2) joke pretaining only to pop culture references or bodily effluences, 3) casts carried ONLY by all-star celebs and not their characters' personalities, 4) and the overreliance on CGI animation.

    It's very refreshing that Disney is going back to the basics.

  • I agree with you, semaj86. You hit something I hadn't thought about yet.

  • I concur with semaj86.  

    CG animation is cool (don't get me wrong)... but so is claymation.  However, both are best served in small doses.  Like, ever 5 years or so.  Traditional, hand drawn, hand painted, 2D animation is where it's at and I, for one, am glad to see Disney slowly returning to this medium.

    Plus, it didn't make any sense for Disney's CG division to even exist after the purchase of Pixar... right?

  • Thanks for the sneek peek.  I'm getting steadily psyched for this movie.  And I, too, think it'll be a blockbuster.  Little girls will go for the princess angle and adult women will go for the romcom angle plus it features McDreamy so it'll be advertised like crazy during Grey's Anatomy (the 2nd biggest show on tv).  And men will be dragged along (and hopefully be pleasantly surprised).  It's pretty much an automatic slam dunk.  Plus soundtrack sales will be big, which will help drive repeat box office.

    AND "talented newcomer Amy Adams"?

    She was nominated for an Oscar last year.  Sure, it was for a movie ("Junebug") that few people saw, but she was also in the hits "Taladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" and "Catch Me if You Can".  Though far from a household name, she's been working steadily for years.  Her performance in "Junebug" was really quite amazing.  It's a challenging film for some to get through, but watching it you can see why Disney cast her as a fairytale princess.  So I'm not arguing with the talented part, just the newcomer part.

    Also in Enchanted is Idina Menzel who played Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) in Broadway's "Wicked" and Maureen in "RENT".  So it should be a great cast with great vocals.

  • Amy Adams is NOT a newcomer...  this line seemed odd to me as well... she was great in Catch Me If You Can... and Taladega Nights... She is an Oscar Nominated actress...

    Pity that 'Andalusia' is a real place in Spain too... may confuse the kids abit... lol... great, now disney will have a lawsuit on their hands... :)

  • Andalasia, not Andalusia. No law suit.

  • Um, why would there be a lawsuit if they used a real place? Media whining, maybe, but an actual lawsuit?

  • I don't know. Personally, I'm excited, but I don't know if it is the type of movie that will pull in the crowds that it will deserve, just based on what people will view it as: A Cinderella Story. Hopefully not. It looks like it will be a wonderful movie, I hope it is recognized if it turns out to be.

  • Enchanted sounds (and looks) to be an awesome film. It has a lot going for it and targets a few different audiences:

    1)Musical lovers

    2)Disney lovers

    3)animation lovers

    4)Patrick Dempsey lovers

    5)romantic comedy lovers

    Although the story is cliched (basicly Blast from the Past backwards as well as many other movie plots), I think Disney will have a good hit on their hands. I'm not sure it will be a huge hit. Teens I think will not be all that interested as compared with High School Musical. But the movie will probably be a hit none the less.

    And speaking of Ratatouille...what about it? Ever since Wall E has been announced, it seems everyone's waiting for that movie to come out. The rat has been all but forgotten.

  • Jim Hill talks about the numerous problems that this new animated feature currently faces. Chief among these is John Lasseter's allegedly desire to assign a co-director to work with first time helmer Keane and/or replace Keane entirely in order to get

  • Jim Hill talks about the numerous problems that this new animated feature currently faces. Chief among these is John Lasseter's allegedly desire to assign a co-director to work with first time helmer Keane and/or replace Keane entirely in order to get

  • i admit i wasn't too excited when i first heard about this film, but the more i hear about it the more intrigued i am. Presently i am excited about this film now and think it could be a hit- not quite this generation's "Roger Rabbit" but a very solid film.

    Some of the gags sound funny and the actually narrative thread that holds the film together sounds solid. I like the homages to Snow white (wicked witch, princess, prince charming- design and concept) and the respect it pays to Disney's legacy as well as seeming to look at Disney enjoying its first decade of the 21st century.

    Lets hope this project turns out well.

  • Did anyone else notice how similar Queen Narissa in both Queen form and the old lady form look like the Evil Queen and the Old Lady from "Snow White"? I think they're rather unoriginal creations.

  • mattyp0119

    >>>Did anyone else notice how similar Queen Narissa in both Queen form and the old lady form look like the Evil Queen and the Old Lady from "Snow White"? I think they're rather unoriginal creations.<<<

    I think we all realized it. That's kind of the point. It's supposed to be a traditional Disney movie come to life. The similarities between Snow White are intentional. That's the entire premise of the film.

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