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When Reality Attacks

Being the new girl in town is never easy, especially when you’re a fairy tale princess exiled from an animated wonderland and dumped unceremoniously onto the cold, unforgiving concrete of Times Square.

Such is the dilemma facing Giselle (Amy Adams), a fair maiden banished from paradise on the eve of her wedding by a wicked, jealous queen. Far from home and blissfully divorced from reality, she braves the city streets in her elaborately ornamented wedding gown, only to wind up sharing a corner with a leering vagrant.

As fate would have it, Giselle runs into a sympathetic lawyer named Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and his six-year old daughter. Robert is a prince at heart -- not the dim-witted, swashbuckling type Giselle is accustomed to, but a prince nonetheless. He reluctantly takes her into his disheveled apartment but is soon won over by her wide-eyed innocence and beauty, her sweetness melting his cynical heart.

They’re a perfect match, of course -- much more so than Giselle and Prince Charming (James Marsden), who is perfectly oblivious to the world around him and breaks into song with disarming regularity. Charming follows his future bride to Manhattan, sword in hand, and seems to waste no time in attempting to commandeer a policeman’s horse. When that fails, he goes door-to-door, searching vainly for his true love.

From there, Enchanted proceeds down a path that should be familiar to anyone with a cursory knowledge of Disney fantasies like Cinderella and Snow White, but what makes it fresh is its lightly ironic twist on a classic formula. Adams, as the pathologically chipper princess who gradually breaks out of her one-dimensional shell, fleshes out her heroine with graceful ease, a straight face and a sunny smile. She’s a fantastic creation, just not a human one.

Forced to adapt to city life, she stumbles at first, but that’s part of her underdog charm. It also sets up some of the film’s funniest moments, as when she summons the woodland creatures of Central Park (along with a small army of rodents) to help her tidy up Robert’s living room. It’s a moment of gentle, affectionate satire, and like so much of Enchanted, it is smart and casually entertaining.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars