Disney’s parody of its own movies. I’m sure most people recognized a good portion of the cast. Leading lady is Amy Adams (Lois Lane in the new Superman movies) as Giselle. Leading man is Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy) as Robert Phillip. James Marsden (Cyclops in the first X-Men trilogy) is Prince Edwaard, Idina Menzel (pre-Frozen) is Nancy Tremaine [possibly an homage to Cinderella’s stepmother?], Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew from Harry Potter) is Nathanial, and Susan Sarandon (Hollywood legend) is Queen Narissa. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz returned to produce the music. Pointed out on the Disney wiki site, “several actresses who have played character in Disney films have cameos: Paige O’Hara (Belle), Jodi Benson (Ariel) was Robert’s secretary, Judy Kuhn (Pocahontas), and Julie Andrews was the narrator [that, I could recognize the voice].
The film starts by entering the castle in the Disney logo and we find a storybook like the first Disney movies featured. The book opens in traditional animation, in the fantasy land of Andalasia. The land is ruled by an evil queen who dreads the day her stepson, Prince Edward will ascend the throne, marry, and his bride will take her crown. Away in the forest, lives Giselle, who has been dreaming of a prince and true love’s kiss (akin to Snow White, complete with woodland creatures, and a talking chipmunk named Pip). Her singing attracts said prince, who too is waiting for his true love to complete his duet. Edward is currently hunting a troll with his *cough* faithful companion, Nathaniel. In his distraction, the troll escapes and wants to eat the fair maiden. Giselle is rescued by Edward and they vow to wed in the morning.
Giselle arrives at the castle the next morning in a humongous white dress, eager for her wedding. But she is waylaid by an old hag who wants to bestow a wedding wish. She pushes the maiden into the wishing well. The hag transforms into the queen and tells her stooge, Nathaniel, that she is sending Giselle to a world where there are no happy endings (similar to the premise of Once Upon a Time). The fall through the well transports Giselle to modern Times Square, in live action New York City. Giselle is terribly lost and confused. Help arrives in the form of Robert Phillip and his daughter, Morgan. He’s kind enough to take Giselle home with him, but on the condition that she calls for help. His resolve softens when Giselle falls asleep.
Come the next morning, Giselle decides to tidy the apartment and calls for her animal friends. Instead of bunnies and squirrels, she gets rats, bugs, and pigeons. They do a Happy Working Song (akin to Snow White and the bubbles in the bathroom are reminiscent of Cinderella). Afterwards, she takes a shower, which becomes a problem when Robert’s soon-to-be-fiancée, Nancy arrives and presumes that her boyfriend has been cheating on her. To a modern woman, that’s what it looks like. Giselle does not endear herself to Robert when she makes a new dress out of his curtains. He wants her gone, but he has to go to work.
Edward and Pip (the chipmunk had seen everything) venture through the well to rescue Giselle. Edward “slays” a bus, then runs off in search of his bride. Nathaniel pops through a bit later, on orders from the queen to prevent Edward from finding Giselle; he’s followed by Pip. When he does not have any luck, Queen Narissa sends him three poisoned apples (another homage to Snow White). She plays to the notion that once Edward and Giselle are out of the way, she and Nathaniel will have a chance. Adult viewers know that Narissa is simply using Nathaniel.
At Robert’s office, he argues with Giselle over the nature of love. He’s a divorce lawyer and finds Giselle’s simplistic view of love childish. This stems from Robert’s ex-wife leaving when his daughter was little. They take a walk in the park to prevent her from causing more problems. He points out that one cannot marry someone after one day of knowing them; dates are what’s done, giving the couple an opportunity to talk and get to know each other. Giselle still insists that love doesn’t have to be complicated. If Robert doesn’t tell Nancy how he feels, how does she know? This becomes a full dance and song number, gathering people from across the park. Per her instructions, a pair of doves take a bouquet to Nancy.
A commotion is made at dinner that evening and Giselle lands on the news; Edward has discovered television and now has a clue to Giselle’s whereabouts. He finds a lot of wrong doors in the apartment building while Giselle and Robert continue their argument. Giselle has never been angry before. In the morning, Edward knocks on the door. Giselle (in another new dress) does not immediately want to return to Andalasia; she wants to go on a date with Edward, giving themselves an opportunity to talk. In the meantime, Narissa declares she is coming to the real world to deal with Giselle herself. She rises out of the man hole and shoots lightning at the billboards.
Both couples ultimately attend an conveniently arranged costumed ball. Giselle and Morgan bond more during a fun shopping excursion. Giselle shows up in a modern gown compared to the traditional gowns the rest of the guests are in. And the ball has a convenient tradition to have the gentlemen dance with a lady they did not arrive with. Edward dances with Nancy while Robert dances with Giselle. Nancy sees the look that Giselle has and retrieves her boyfriend. They share a kiss and Edward starts to lead Giselle away. The hag reappears, with a final apple, promising to take away Giselle’s pain; it would be like it never happened. Giselle takes a bite and passes out. Robert and Edward rush to her rescue. Nathaniel exposes Queen Narissa. Edward takes his stepmother to task; she will be stripped of her crown. Giselle can only be waken with true love’s kiss. A kiss from Edward does not work. Nancy tells Robert to try. That’s the ticket.
The other attendees think the whole thing is a show. It gets more dramatic when Narissa transforms into a dragon (akin to Sleeping Beauty). Robert protects Giselle and Narissa is fine with taking him hostage. Giselle rushes off (removing her shoes), taking Edward’s sword to face off against Narissa. Narissa is ultimately defeated.
Everyone gets a happy ending. Nathaniel and Pip both write books, Pip in Andalasia and Nathaniel in the real world. Edward and Nancy end up together, Edward taking Nancy to animated Andalasia. Robert and Giselle end up together, starting a clothing company and being utterly adorable as a family.
Overall, I find it to be a cute movie; it’s fun to combine traditional animation and live action, and the idea of an over-the-top princess in modern-day New York is also fun. At one point, while re-watching the movie, it reminded me of a typical Hallmark plotline; girl falls in love with one guy, but after spending time with another who seems the complete opposite, realizes that the second man is the right one. (Don’t get me wrong, Hallmark movies are fun to watch, but I can take them for only so long). The songs are cute, Morgan is adorable and I love her interaction with Giselle. Her dresses are pretty 🙂
It’s just, part of it is simple: the good guys are good, the bad guy is bad. There are a few grey characters. Pip is annoying when he talks and I don’t think he really learned anything from his time being quiet. Nathaniel was a wonderfully complex character, but there is an instant dislike because watching him, I see Wormtail. Robert and Giselle both grow, but Edward doesn’t. Nancy is sort of just there, and happily pairs up with Edward in the end…no build up to why she’d willingly run away from her current life to instantly get married to an animated prince.
Though, it is funny that Disney paid homage to many of its own clichés, and even mentioned it’s a poor idea to marry someone you’ve just met (again, Nancy does this, so I don’t think they learned their lesson).
Let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Next Time: Prince of Persia