We’ve seen this before: A lovely cartoon maiden, straight from Don Bluth’s sketch pads, sings while friendly animals scurry about. A dashing prince appears on the scene (“We shall be married in the morning!”), then the film’s villainess transports the lass to a place “where there are no happily-ever-afters.” Any Middle American will tell you that means New York, and our formerly animated young lady (Adams) is plunged into a live-action Horror City. When she calls for furry friends to help clean an apartment, it’s CGI rats and roaches that whistle while they work. For a split second, you wonder if someone slipped a Mickey into the House of Mouse’s water supply and made some joyously subversive gem while the brass was asleep.
No such luck. Despite the benign No-Tomorrowland Gotham our goody-two-shoes heroine has been thrust into, it’s still just Disney business as usual. Her pure, romantic demeanor wins over a cynical McDreamy lawyer (Dempsey). The clueless prince (Marsden) attacks midtown buses. Naturally, the movie’s evil stepmom (Sarandon)—apparently auditioning for a Broadway adaptation of Aelita: Queen of Mars—comes brandishing the requisite poison apples. And while no one expects the studio to slaughter its own cash cows by actually deconstructing fairy-tale mythology, this bland bedtime story doesn’t even offer an entertaining post-Shrek take on the original. Even Adams, gamely attacking her archetypal role with glee, can’t fight back the saccharine tide. For a movie filled with magical occurences, Enchanted commits a cardinal sin: It forgets to cast a spell on the audience.