Six years after “Shrek” put a modern spin on the classic fairy tale with some not-so-veiled references to Disney animation, the Mouse House has once again found itself in the crosshairs. This time it’s the target of “Enchanted,” a movie that isn’t afraid to have fun with some of old Walt’s more famous characters.
The difference this time? “Enchanted” was made by Disney.
“At the beginning, I wasn’t sure they knew they were poking fun at themselves, but I think they actually did. You have to hand it to Disney for making fun of some of their iconic moments,” “Enchanted” actress Susan Sarandon told MTV News. “They are scattered throughout.”
Instead of a spoof, we should call it a “playful homage,” director Kevin Lima insisted — a delicate tonal-tightrope walk between making fun and honoring. Indeed, the story of “Enchanted” itself is anything but ironic, a perfectly straightforward fairy tale that just happens to take place in the real world and not some animated kingdom.
“Basically, it’s Disney kind of deconstructing and reconstructing in the same piece,” composer Alan Menken said. “In one sense, the cynics are brought into this and go, ‘OK, I get the joke,’ and on the other hand it’s got a heart to it. My hope is that it will really enlist the audience in knowing that they’re involved in something both smart and moving.”
So just how many references are there?
“The movie is so filled with them. I could hand you a four-page document of references to Disney movies. It goes pretty deep,” Lima enthused. “On the surface there are things like the poison apple, the old hag, the dragon — everyone gets that sort of stuff. On a much deeper level, there’s a real geek game you can play with this movie in finding the references.”
We asked the cast and crew for some of their favorites:
Who’s The Fairest Of Them All?: Giselle is the undisputed star of the show, but she’s not the only Disney princess in “Enchanted,” though it might be tough to spot the other two unless you know what they look like — what they really look like. “I put Jodi Benson, who’s the voice of Ariel from ‘The Little Mermaid,’ in the movie. She gets to play an on-camera role for a change,” Lima revealed. Star Amy Adams said she “loved how they used the past voices of Disney princesses in the film, like Jodi Benson — she’s the receptionist at Robert’s office.”
Then there’s a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo from another princess: “There’s the moment when Paige O’Hara [voice of Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’] shows up on the TV screen in the soap opera,” Menken told MTV News. “And the soap-opera music is ‘Beauty and the Beast’ rearranged.” Look for O’Hara when Robert (James Marsden) is in a motel room watching TV.
What’s In A Name?: Some of Lima’s favorite references are throwaways in the background, tiny nods to past Disney films. “Like the law firm is called Churchill, Harline and Smith,” he said. “And those are the three songwriters from ‘Snow White’!”
At one point, Giselle visits a familiar Italian restaurant for dinner. But if you don’t recognize the joint, don’t worry. Last time you were there you only got a view from the alley. “One of the restaurants is Bella Notte, which is from ‘Lady and the Tramp,’ ” Lima said. “That’s how deep it goes. That’s how geeky it is.”
The Hills Are Alive: One of the movie’s most subtle visual nods is to a shot that is itself an homage. While singing “That’s How You Know” in Central Park, Adams runs up a small, grassy hill, her arms stretched out behind her, as the camera tilts and zooms. If you recognize the shot, that’s because it’s an exact re-creation of a similar shot in “Beauty and the Beast,” which is itself a re-creation from “The Sound of Music.” But that isn’t Julie Andrews’ only connection to the movie. “[She’s] also the narrator!” Adams exclaimed.
Whistle While You Work: One of the longest, most spot-on spoofs in “Enchanted” comes the morning after Giselle meets her love interest, Robert. Rising from his couch, she notices how filthy his apartment is. So she does what any princess would do: She organizes a cleanup. “When Amy sings to clean up the apartment, instead of deer and rabbits and chipmunks coming to help clean, it’s rats and pigeons and cockroaches,” Marsden said, a sly grin on his face. “That seems to me a classic Disney idea — that the princess, to clean up, would summon the forest animals. [Except] in this forest, it’s the scummy animals.”
“We have the cockroaches going, ‘La-la-la,’ ” Menken chuckled — and keep in mind this this is a guy who won an Oscar by writing a song for a teapot.
Speaking of animal help, there’s also an animated cameo from one of Disney’s biggest stars. We’d tell you where to look, but we wouldn’t want to spoil all the fun.
“I think we’re talking about putting together a DVD game that you can play with the movie,” Lima revealed. “[We] show you a scene and you have to pick out the reference.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Enchanted.”
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