I wonder if Disney realized back in 1988 that their hybrid feature Who Framed Roger Rabbit, released that year, would be their last live action/animated picture for almost twenty years. It would not be until Enchanted hit the screens in 2007 that hybrid success would be tasted again. Made on a production budget of $85 million it grossed $340 million worldwide on its way to being named ‘Best Family Film’ of 2007 and exceeding all expectations.
Amy Adams is Giselle
Much of the picture’s success must surely go to the delightful performance turned in by its leading lady Amy Adams who played the Princess Giselle. I have watched Enchanted many times and it is very easy to find oneself enchanted by her wonderful characterization. Disney studio executives evidently thought so too. At a 2007 toy fair, in which likenesses of all previous Disney princesses were on sale in doll form, it was initially intended that Giselle would be one of them. But then someone estimated the cost involved in paying for lifelong rights to Amy Adams’ image, so the idea was scotched. Incidentally, over 300 actresses tested for the Giselle role in Enchanted. Amy was number 275.
James Marsden as Prince Edward
Having acknowledged Amy’s terrific contribution, it would be remiss of me not to mention the very funny turn from James Marsden who portrays her fiancée Prince Edward. Initially, Marsden went after the other male role; that of the real-life Robert, but he soon realized that the prince was a more interesting part. It helped that he was already an accomplished singer as well.
Patrick Dempsey (McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy) is also perfectly cast as the romantic lead Robert. No doubt an awful lot of ladies were attracted to the movie simply because he was in it. Indeed, the musical number, ‘That’s How You Know’, took 17 days to shoot in Central Park, New York, and that was not entirely due to the inclement weather. The biggest problem was the presence of hundreds of Patrick Dempsey fans who regularly hampered shots by clapping, cheering and calling out his name.
‘That’s How You Know’
Three of the elderly male dancers in the Central Park sequence were veterans from previous Disney films. One was a chimney sweep in 1964’s Mary Poppins and two danced together in West Side Story (1961). The scene used 300 extras and 150 dancers. The scenes shot in Times Square in the middle of the day, when characters were emerging from manholes and so on, were shot with real passers-by in the background, but with paid extras standing in front of them, trying to act naturally.
Idina Menzel as Nancy
A strange casting choice was that of Idina Menzel as Robert’s fiancée, Nancy. Strange because the brilliant Miss Menzel, a Broadway star with two Tony nominations to her credit for her singing, does not get to sing a note in a film in which almost everyone else does! Six years farther down the track, in 2013, she would supply the vocals for Elsa the Snow Queen in Disney’s animated smash hit Frozen. And that would include the world-wide number one hit single ‘Let It Go’. Oddly, non-singer Dempsey sings a little in Enchanted, but Idina does not, although she and Prince Edward were intended to sing a duet, but it was cut from the final print.
Trivia fans might be interested to know that the ladies who provided the voices for three previous Disney princesses all have small parts in Enchanted. Robert’s secretary, Sam, is played here by Jodi Benson who was Ariel in The Little Mermaid (1989). While Edward is skimming through TV channels in his room he hits on a soap opera in which the character, Angela, is being played by Paige O’Hara, the lady who was the voice of Belle in Beauty and the Beast (1991). Judy Kuhn is the first woman whose door Edward knocks on while looking for Giselle. Judy provided the singing voice for the title character in Pocahontas (1995).
Patrick Dempsey only received $750,000 for his role in Enchanted. Before you start feeling sorry for him, however, you might like to know that by 2012 he was collecting $350,000 per episode for playing Dr McDreamy in Grey’s Anatomy! And there have been an awful lot of episodes. Dempsey was chosen to play Robert because the producers felt he was the modern day equivalent of a fairy-tale prince. Amy won the role of Giselle even though she was almost unknown and the producers were looking for a name actress. Her audition was that good and she really did do her own singing. The Philadelphia Inquirer named the picture as the 4th best movie of 2007! Other reviewers had mixed opinions overall, but pretty much everyone praised Amy Adams and her charming performance. Giselle has become her signature portrayal, especially among children of all ages.
Moves have been afoot for some time by Disney to make a sequel to Enchanted. It is tentatively to be titled Disenchanted, and set to commence shooting in the summer of 2017. Whether or not Patrick Dempsey or James Marsden will be able to reprise their earlier roles is questionable, but it appears that Amy Adams will certainly play Giselle. She was 33 when Enchanted was released in 2007. At 43 in 2017 she is aware that it is now or never for a sequel. The years are starting to flash by.
It will be interesting to see if the great Susan Sarandon appears in the sequel. I hope so. She is such an extraordinary and versatile talent. Like most people, I first noticed her in the cult film The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). I refuse to use the word ‘classic’ because, frankly, I thought it was over-rated. It contained Tim Curry’s outstanding rendition of ‘Sweet Transvestite’, but that was the only bit I liked. Susan was fabulous in Atlantic City in 1980 and Bull Durham eight years later. But it was her portrayal of Louise in the legendary Thelma & Louise in 1991 that made her a household name. The Client (1994) is still one of my favourite films and she landed a Best Actress Oscar a year later for Dead Man Walking.
Tim Robbins & Susan Sarandon
Her only marriage to date was to actor Chris Sarandon back in 1967. It lasted 12 years. When she met and fell in love with Tim Robbins on the set of Bull Durham in 1988, it looked like a match that could last forever, but alas their relationship fell apart 23 years later. ‘People were coming up to me in the street and saying, ‘I cried and cried when I heard’, she recalled. ‘Well, I was sadder! I didn’t think it would ever happen, either.’ Robbins is 12 years younger than Susan. Both of them have been dating younger partners since the break-up, all part of encountering a mid-life crisis, they say. Susan turned 70 in October 2016, so the chances of her taking on the sequel to Enchanted are probably slim at best. A pity.