Utterly Enchanted

24-Aug-08 11:59 AM by
Filed under Reviews; 1 comment.

On a recent first date, I offered a typical probing question: what's your favorite movie? Acceptable answers include TRON, Star Wars (episodes IV – VI only, of course!), Wit, and the like. So I didn't know what to make of someone who responded with Enchanted. A Disney movie? I don't know why I was so taken aback; I count Aladdin and The Incredibles among my DVD collection. I proved more curious in the film than in its admirer, and after renting said movie, I'm happy to report something positive came of the evening.

Enchanted soundtrack coverEnchanted is a 2007 film that draws on the House of Mouse's extensive library to create an original yet familiar tale. It opens with an animated musical sequence that introduces us to a wicked stepmother, her royal son, and an innocent beauty whose friends are the woodland creatures. Desperate to keep the blissful couple apart, the stepmother casts the girl into a foreign land "where there are no happy endings" — New York City. The film then transitions into a live-action story with occasional glimpses back into the cartoon world.

From here, the story is somewhat predictable: Giselle (Amy Adams) wanders around the Big Apple until native New Yorker and divorce lawyer Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey) takes her under his wing until her Prince Edward (James Marsden) can come to the rescue. In the meantime, both Giselle and Robert have the values of their worlds to teach each other, producing some comical pairings. Yet the predictability does nothing to deter the joy of the experience.

The star of the film is without a doubt Amy Adams, whose wide-eyed naivet&#233 is captured in her every nuanced movement. Her poise, carriage, and inflections make it believable that she really is a Disney princess stuck in a real person's body. When other characters from the magical land of Andalasia arrive in New York, their performances are amusing, but nowhere near as detailed as Ms. Adams'.

James Marsden is almost unrecognizable as the over-the-top, single-minded, valiant prince. I'm familiar with the actor's work only as brooding characters, such as Lois Lane's husband in Superman Returns and the mutant Cyclops in the X-Men trilogy. To see him acting so goofily was a welcome contrast. Susan Sarandon gets little screen time but is a wickedly wicked witch.

It's not just the transplants who are bewildered by their surroundings, as their behavior befuddles their New York friends in many amusing scenes. Giselle's animated proclivity to randomly burst into song embarrasses Robert, who doesn't want people to stare — and when the song explodes into a full dance number, he's astonished to see Central Park overtaken with choreography as he finds himself in one impossible scene after another.

Disney's heritage is evident in more than just the 13 minutes of cel-animated, non-CGI animation, or in the catchy, upbeat soundtrack and colorful musical numbers. We have clich&#233 and tropes from every past film, including talking animals, poisoned apples, and bumbling henchmen, but updated and even lampooned enough to make them enjoyable. Not all the allusions are so obvious; multiple shots and scenes are set up exactly like their cartoon ancestors, as shown in this side-by-side image gallery. Even just a simple but effective twist freshens what otherwise would've been a hackneyed climax.

Enchanted is both classic and modern Disney. It's a traditional tale that young audiences will enjoy, but pays homage to the predecessors that adults grew up with. Like any excellent family film, Enchanted has something for everyone.

The 2007 Hiphop Awards

08-Jan-08 4:58 PM by
Filed under Films; Comments Off on The 2007 Hiphop Awards

Golden Globes cancelled? Oscars to be cancelled next? Never fear! It is time for Hiphopguy23 to reveal his personal choices for 2007's best in cinema.

Disclaimer: Hiphopguy23 has not seen every movie released in 2007. In fact, of the 500 or so movies released, Hiphopguy23 has only seen about 20.

Disclaimer 2: Hiphopguy23 plans on seeing more 2007 releases, but the movies he most wants to see are currently in that unavoidable limbo between theaters and DVD. Therefore, these awards are subject to change.

With that, away we go!

BEST MOVIE: 300. This is the type of movie that revolutionizes film making, like The Matrix or The Sixth Sense. Expect a horde of rip-offs in the near future.

BEST ACTOR: Gerard Butler. Hiphopguy23 can't decide if this award is for 300 or P.S. I Love You. He plays drastically different characters in both movies, equally effectively.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: James Marsden (Enchanted). If you remember him as the ultra-cool Cyclops in X-Men or the fiance of Lois Lane in Superman Returns, you will be astonished to see him as a cartoonish doofus in Enchanted.

BEST ACTRESS: Keri Russell (Waitress). For someone used to seeing her as Felicity, it is remarkable how effortlessly she becomes an abused piemaker from the South.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Hiphopguy23 is torn here. He liked Cheryl Hines and Adrienne Shelley in Waitress and Gina Gershon and Kathy Bates in P.S. I Love You. He might even give consideration to Lena Headey in 300. Hiphopguy23 is going to put this award on hold and hopes he sees a stand-out supporting actress in the movies he has yet to see.

BEST DOCUMENTARY: SiCKO. SiCKO narrowly edges Maxed Out just because it was more memorable. Michael Moore sailing to Cuba to get health care? Hysterical! At the other extreme, if there were an award for Worst Documentary, then the Ralph Nader documentary, An Unreasonable Man, would win. What a bunch of meaningless information that could be found on Wikipedia.

BEST SCORE: Music and Lyrics. This movie narrowly edges out Enchanted just because, nearly a year later, Hiphopguy23 is still singing "I've been sleeping with a clown above my bed."

WORST MOVIE: The Last Mimzy and The Water Horse (tie). Both of these movies were billed as the next E.T. but they should have been billed as the next T.P. because Hiphopguy23 could wipe his [Censored! -Ed]

ONE-TIME BONUS AWARD!

MOST OVERRATED MOVIE: Once. Boy, whenever a movie does well at Sundance, the critics rave about it like it's the next Casablanca. If you really want to listen to two hours of sub-par Irish rock, Hiphopguy23 suggests putting your Sinéad O'Connor CD on repeat.

Well, that's it. Let Hiphopguy23 know which 2007 movies should have won, and maybe he'll actually go out and see them. Ta-ta for now.

See also: Update to the 2007 Hiphop Awards