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Enchanted (PG) ***

By Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

Enchanted is not the first Walt Disney movie in which cartoon characters cross over into the realm of flesh-and-blood human beings. But it is the first one I can recall in which the animated aliens are unrecognizable from ordinary people. When the sing-song princess Giselle (Amy Adams) crawls out of a manhole cover into New York’s Times Square, the only thing that distinguishes her from the hordes of tourists around her is the ridiculously poofy wedding dress she’s wearing.

Unaware that she’s been the victim of a scheme by an evil queen (Susan Sarandon) to prevent Giselle from marrying her son (James Marsden), the princess is befuddled by the strange new world she must navigate. Relying on the kindness of a divorced dad (Patrick Dempsey) and his 6-year old daughter (Rachel Covey), Giselle gradually starts to get her bearings, discovering that just because she’s now in present-day Manhattan does not mean she can no longer enlist animals to help her with household chores, or launch into full-blown musical numbers in which strangers passing by are suddenly compelled to join into the singing and dancing.

Much of the humor of Enchanted, which was directed by Disney veteran Kevin Lima (Tarzan, 102 Dalmatians) and features music co-written by Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast), comes in seeing how the film affectionally spoofs animated-fantasy formulas, from the Snow White/Sleeping Beauty-type heroine to the gallant prince rushing to her rescue.

Adams (Junebug) occasionally overdoes Giselle’s golly-gee-whiz innocence — her performance begins on a high-pitched note, and has nowhere to go but up — but her excesses are tempered by Dempsey’s unaffected, laid-back charms, as well as Marsden’s humorously clumsy, valiant hero. It is a testament to just how well Enchanted works that by the time a dragon is flying around New York City, you’ve forgotten all about the movie’s high-concept humor and become invested in the plight of its characters instead.

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