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Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

"Enchanted" lives happily ever after

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3.5 stars

"Enchanted," with Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel, Rachel Covey, Susan Sarandon. Directed by Kevin Lima, from a screenplay by Bill Kelly. 107 minutes. Rated PG for some scary images and mild innuendo. Several theaters.

When Amy Adams opens her mouth in "Enchanted," you half expect a Technicolor butterfly to emerge from it, so perfect is her take on a dewy Disney princess. Wide of eye and fluttery of voice, she plays Giselle, who lives a perfect life in the animated kingdom of Andalasia, singing to the animals and doing whatever else it is that Disney princesses do all day. But, quicker than you can warble "Someday My Prince Will Come," Giselle gets in trouble with the evil Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) and off she's whooshed down a magic well and into ... the real, and decidedly nonanimated, New York City.

An irresistible blend of screwball comedy and Disney fairy-tale musical, "Enchanted" takes its enchanting premise and prances away with it, holding the audience happily captive. Directed by Kevin Lima, from a witty screenplay by Bill Kelly, it's that rare movie experience: You watch it smiling. The details feel just right, down to the brief narration provided by — but who else? — Julie Andrews. And Adams, who's remembered fondly by anyone who saw her ditzy-but-wise Ashley in "Junebug" (for which she received an Oscar nomination), delivers a full-on star turn.

Gliding along the sidewalks of Manhattan in her poufy marshmallow of a wedding gown (it's the best wedding-dress wrangling since Joan Cusack in "In & Out"), Giselle is a pretty fish far from water. In one of the film's funny running gags, she's mostly ignored — it takes more than an animated-character-come-to-life to get the attention of blasé New Yorkers.

Finally, after a long night of wandering, she's discovered by a handsome fellow named Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and his 6-year-old daughter (Rachel Covey). Familiar complications ensue, including the arrival of a handful of other animated characters from Andalasia: Prince Edward (James Marsden), in love with Giselle; his chipmunk sidekick Pip, who's horrified to learn that chipmunks can't talk in this world; and the evil queen herself, whose leather-ish gown and platform boots fit right in.

Anyone who's seen a Disney movie knows where this is going, and that Robert will turn out to be a prince of a guy. But the pleasure here is in the journey: in watching Adams burst into lilting song as a crew of animals (roaches, rats and flies — this is New York) help her clean up Robert's apartment, or flounce around town in a homemade dress that makes her look like some sort of insane bridesmaid. Dempsey, an admirably befuddled foil, eyes her with suspicion and, gradually, something sweeter. "It's like you escaped from a Hallmark card or something," he tells her.

As it turns out, this princess needs no prince to rescue her. But "Enchanted" does give us all the best of fairy tales — including a glamorous ball, a glass slipper and a charmingly twisted happily-ever-after.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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