There are two things that I really like in a film: Quirky Sundance-y-ness and Amy Adams. Sunshine Cleaning has both. And I’ve been looking forward to it for long enough now (it premiered Sundance 2008) that I was ready to give it priority over Watchmen last week. Good thing I had my dates wrong and Sunshine Cleaning actually comes out tomorrow (3/13/09). So I know what I’m doing this weekend.
The film blogosphere has another meme going around, this time started by Nathaniel R. of Film Experience, who has called for bloggers to celebrate twenty of their favorite actresses. No one’s tagged me, but that never stopped me before! So many actresses are worthy to be on a list like this, but in the end, I went with the actresses that can sell me on a film – the ones I’ll see in anything, just because they’re in it. Oh, and the level of my girl-crush on them is factored in as well. ;)
I originally wrote a paragraph about each actress (like Arbogast did in his very informative take on the meme), but opted instead for a more minimalist approach. If you want more info on the actresses or why I love them, let me know.
Maria Bello (especially: The Cooler, Thank You For Smoking, A History of Violence)
However, if you haven’t, GO NOW. I’ve been nervously excited for it since I heard about it, but feared that the story of an animated princess being thrust into the real-life world of New York City would end up being either hopelessly silly or nauseatingly saccharine. But Enchanted is neither of those things. I’ll admit there are moments when it started to slip toward one or the other, but it always came back to being heartwarmingly adorable before much damage was done.
Amy Adams is absolutely perfect as would-be princess Giselle, pushed into a portal-well by her wicked stepmother-in-law-to-be on the eve of her wedding to Prince Edward (James Marsden). Her performance starts out with every action overdone, as befitting her animated past, but gradually becomes more nuanced as Giselle learns to navigate the real world, where princes don’t always catch you when you fall, where suddenly bursting out into song doesn’t guarantee that that special someone will love you back, where not everyone appreciates woodland animals in their homes and restaurants, and where marriages don’t last happily ever after (Robert, who helps her in New York, is a divorce lawyer). Yet coming to terms with the real world doesn’t mean the loss of Giselle’s innocence; rather, her openness and belief in love transforms everyone she comes into contact with, as well. The musical numbers help, too.
Okay, see, now I’m starting to make it sound like one of those family films with a super obvious message that I always rail against. But it isn’t like that. I hardly ever like family films (except Pixar and Aardman), and I haven’t liked a non-Pixar Disney film for quite some time, so that should tell you something. Enchanted is refreshing; a film that both kids and their parents can (probably) enjoy. I put “probably” in there because you should probably check any latent cynicism at the door. But you should do that anyway. Cynicism is overrated. ;)
Speaking of Disney, any fans of Disney’s animated history will be in for a treat, since nearly all of Disney’s classics are referenced. Giselle is quite obviously a mix of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, with a pinch of Belle and a smidgen of Cinderella. The evil stepmother is half Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent and half Snow White’s wicked queen. Lump up all the various Prince Charmings and you’ve got Edward. And there are sight references to Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella, and I’m sure many others that I didn’t catch the first time around. The film is tender towards Disney’s history and conventions, but also gently parodic and willing to laugh at itself, which goes a long way toward guarding against the maudlin tendency.
All in all, if you have kids, especially girls, and haven’t taken them to see Enchanted, I highly recommend you do so. Or go yourself. Because I and my three grad student friends enjoyed it greatly. And did I mention how good Amy Adams is? I know, every review has pointed that out. But it’s worth saying over and over. In fact, I have decided that pretty much every movie would at least 72% better if Amy Adams were in it.
edit: I forgot the one bad thing. Idina Menzel is in it, and she didn’t sing! I mean, COME ON! That’s like having Kristin Chenoweth in the cast of Pushing Daisies and not having her sing every week. Wait… But seriously, as soon as I recognized her, I started waiting for her musical number, and there wasn’t one. So don’t hold your breath for that. But Amy Adams does her own singing, too, and very, very well I might add. This is why we need more musicals, folks! Actors have hidden musical talent that I want to know about.