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Once Upon a Time...in a Kingdom Called New York City

February 1, 2021

I would definitely describe myself as a romantic. I love love! And I especially love watching movies about love.

And since I've been especially anxious and sad these past few months with a world that is more tumultuous than ever, I've leaned into watching predictable romantic comedies as a form of self-care. Watching heartwarming and hilarious cinematic shenanigans that end in a mushy "happily ever after" ending has been very good for me lately.  

One movie that has consistently given me so much joy when I've been down has been Disney's 2007 hit Enchanted.

It's a delightful movie that has an enormous amount of fun poking at Disney tropes and cliches yet it isn't a full-blown parody. It's genuinely funny for kids AND adults, which makes it a great option for the whole family (there are some mild innuendos that will go over the heads of most kids). And the entire cast is just so, so great.

Amy Adams shines as princess-to-be Giselle, who is sent by an evil queen from the adorable animated world of Andalasia to the harsh real-world of New York City moments before she's to marry her "true love" (that she's known for less than a day), Prince Edward. It's a jarring turn of events for Giselle, who is far, far away from her home and horde of talking animal friends and can't comprehend this unfriendly new place. 

Watching Giselle attempt to awkwardly navigate her first steps through the city is both hilarious and endearing. Wide-eyed, clad in an ENORMOUS puffy gown and a tiara, she aimlessly wanders the streets until a knight-in-shining-armor appears in the form of the dry and no-nonsense divorce lawyer Robert (played by McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey), who rescues her from falling off a billboard she climbed.

Robert and his six-year-old daughter Morgan can tell that Giselle needs some help, so they take her back to their apartment to try and help her get back home. Fairy-tale-lover Morgan is in awe of Giselle's fantastical story of who she is and where she comes from, but Robert is immediately dismissive.

"Just because she has on a funny dress doesn't mean she's a princess. She's a seriously confused woman who's fallen into our laps," he tells his daughter.

Little does he know! 

Giselle isn't at all dismayed by Robert's disbelief in her story and over the course of several days, bonds with him and Morgan, winning them over with her earnestness, kindness, and cheerful disposition. Adams truly encapsulates a fairy-tale-princess-come-to-life in every way and she commits to the role.  

The highlight of the film comes when Giselle learns of Robert's reluctance to articulate his feelings to his girlfriend, Nancy, "because she already knows". Giselle responds in true Disney fashion, by breaking out into song in front of a bewildered Robert. As the two make their way through Central Park, she sings an enthusiastic ballad that speaks to the importance of showing and telling the one you love how much you care about them.

Despite Robert's embarrassment over the spectacle Giselle is causing, she's joined by street performers, construction workers, break-dancers, rollerbladers, several wedding parties, and so many other smiling people who spontaneously join her in song. It quickly evolves into an enormous, joyful, and beautifully choreographed musical sequence that comes to a close in front of the famous Bethesda Fountain and brings to mind the classic MGM musicals that I grew up watching. You can't help but be drawn in. 

Maybe real life is not at all like the Disney story I hoped it could be when I was growing up, but I still subscribe to the idea even at this time in my life, there is room for the optimism and hope that they can inspire. Enchanted follows that same logic too. It's a movie that loves fairy tales and acknowledges that while our real experiences with love and life may be much more complicated than in the storybooks, there is still magic to be found. 

Katie Varnell

Katie

Katie is a Circulation Assistant at the Hadley Park branch. She loves musical theater, practicing yoga, and all desserts. She is always eager to hear movie and book recommendations and to chat about pop culture or cats.