Giselle (delectable Amy Adams) is a princess ejected from her magic kingdom by a curse from her evil potential mother-in-law (Susan Sarandon) in the inspired Disney fairy-tale mash-up Enchanted. And when the heroine pops up in New York City, dazed by her transformation from animated cartoon girl to live-action beauty, she’s put up for the night by a stranger, a harried divorce lawyer (Patrick Dempsey). But there’s a hygiene problem. He’s the distracted single parent to a little girl (Rachel Covey), his girlfriend (Idina Menzel) is on his case for more commitment — and with no time to clean, his apartment is a mess. So Giselle does what any classically trained, sweet-natured Disney heroine would do: With a lilting yodel, she summons her charmed animal friends to help her tidy up, and they sing, sing, sing while they toil. Of course, this being New York, the wildlife workforce consists of rats, pigeons, mice, and well-organized cockroaches.
The hilarious ”Happy Working Song ” production number, with music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, encapsulates the joys of Enchanted — an unironic affection for classic Disney fairy tales of old, salted with modern smarts about how the non-Disney world really works for single parents, kids, working women, divorce lawyers, and cockroaches. Somewhere deep in the movie’s genetic structure is a chromosome or two of Rocky and Bullwinkle’s bi-level wit mixed in with the DNA of Mary Poppins. The resourceful heroine is soul sister to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White, and as such she comes accessorized with a handsome fairy-tale prince (Hairspray’s James Marsden, wonderfully earnest, and therefore charming, as a princely dolt). But New York works its own magic on Giselle — and so does Lawyer McDreamy.
Enchanted is festooned with extravagant set pieces — there’s a great number in praise of romantic gestures, and a ballroom scene to make even grown-up girls swoon. So I hope no one thinks me a mean stepsister when I say that the movie is also one baggy final act too long, as Sarandon’s whole evil-older-woman subplot climaxes with a technically showy but really dragging chase and rescue sequence of a King Kong kind. An old queen ought to know when to step aside and let the next Disney generation claim the crown. B+