Enchanted changed the way Disney made movies

Being a film critic in 2022 comes with some creative challenges. With the endless increase in sequels, reboots, and remakes being made, there are only a few dozen ways to say, “The latest installment in this series lacks the charm of the original.” Disney’s Living Fairytale frustrateda sequel 15 years in the making, is no exception: the critical consensus says it fails to equal the standard set by its 2007 predecessor. fascinated. Hey, most online word processors at least have a thesaurus generator for critics to play with.

Maybe one reason frustrated A failure to recapture the public imagination is that it attempts to succeed in a media landscape shaped largely by the influence of the original fascinated. The success of this film was a critical test for Walt Disney Pictures during a period of radical change for family entertainment, and it greatly influenced Disney’s creative choices in the years that followed. But the formula fascinated Created for Disney it’s gotten a bit skinny after more than a decade of being constantly repackaged and applied to movie after movie. There are many reasons frustrated missed the mark. (One is that hearing the name of the fictional kingdom of Andalusia about 500 times in the first 45 minutes can give you a hell of a headache.) But the real crux of the problem comes back to fascinatedOrigin story.

fascinated Its journey to the big screen began in 1997, when budding screenwriter Bill Kelly wrote the first draft and pitched it to executives as “a collision of fairytale romance and modern pessimism.” While the final film is a family-friendly Disney movie, an early draft of fascinated It was a much more adult affair, combining the spirit of a raunchy late-’90s sex comedy with a parody of the Disney movie formula. Director Kevin Lima later stated that this version was “kind of sordid” and “more along the lines of films like a partner. One notable scene was the arrival of forgetful Andalusian princess Giselle (eventually played by Amy Adams) in New York and is hired to pop out of a cake at her bachelorette party, where she is believed to be a stripper. There were no animated sequences or big-budget musical numbers in the version. Kelly’s original.

Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) sits on a rock in a New York City park overlooking a pond filled with boats, her princess-embroidered skirt draped decoratively around her.  Dressed in a faded brown jumpsuit, Robert (Patrick Dempsey) looks on confusedly in Enchanted.

Image: Walt Disney Pictures

Disney was enamored enough to buy his script, but the lackluster content, combined with the film’s blatant mockery of the entire company canon, made the producers nervous. At the time, Disney was still going through the Disney Renaissance, which revived the fantasy musicals of the company’s golden years, reinvigorating a company that had been struggling with its identity and direction since Walt Disney’s death decades earlier. It seemed inconsequential for the studio’s next project to shamelessly mock the scheme that saved its neck.

But Disney was also facing serious competition from more narratively aware and mature family entertainment. After a public falling out with Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg left the company in 1994 to co-found DreamWorks and lead the company’s animation division. Four years later, DreamWorks hit Disney with two highly successful animated releases in the space of six months – snatch And the Prince of Egypt. “An easy match for anything Disney has released in the past decade,” critic James Berardinelli wrote. Prince of Egypt, “An impressive feat that reveals yet another hole in the once-impregnable armor of Disney animation.” For the first time since the release of the little MermaidDisney’s reign as the unrivaled ruler of the animation industry was under threat.

a partnerHis release in 2001 was a particularly devastating blow. This subversive tale about a fairytale ogre and a rebellious princess who gets an unconventional happy ending forced Disney to confront some home truths. a partner Not only did it easily beat Disney’s animated feature that year — which was a game-changer for the company Atlantis: The Lost Empire But she did so while taking explicit and deliberate portrayals of Disney’s reputation and icons. There has been much unconfirmed speculation that the short, evil Lord Farquaad is based on Michael Eisner. But I’m talking about that scene where Princess Fiona uses her Snow White vibrato to blast a songbird, and then fry her eggs for breakfast. Or this sequence that presents Farquaad’s Duloc land as a picture-perfect saccharine of Disneyland, complete with nifty character mascots and squeaky-sounding cartoon graphics, similar to the “It’s a Small World” ride. For the Disney folks, this must have stung.

It’s time to tackle the cultural reset and get on board. Kevin Lima (Director of the 1999 Disney animated film Tarzan, widely considered the last film of the Renaissance), led to that difficult period when it became clear that a change was needed. “There had to be that level of irony,” he told Den of Geek. “She had to play a role a partner Performed for connection.” Suddenly, that text gathering dust in a filing cabinet about enticing a Disney princess to strip for a bachelorette party seemed like a prized asset.

Smiling, heads-together, Disney Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) and love interest Robert (Patrick Dempsey) sit in a purple-upholstered carriage riding through the New York City park of Enchanted.

Image: Walt Disney Pictures

After several false starts, with multiple directors and rewrites, Disney hired Lima, a trusted veteran of the studio, to helm the production. Kelly returned to rework the script, drawing on ideas suggested by the temporary writers during the long rewriting phase. From the start, Lima insisted on toning down the grittyness seen in earlier drafts. He said it might be possible to direct the profitability of the parody without making Walt turn into his cryogenic grave. “Let’s embrace who we are and make it a love letter to Disney,” he told the executives, according to a Den of Geek interview. “There are hundreds of thousands of people who love this stuff. Let’s not break it for them.”

a partner He won audience favor by having the titular character parody Disney’s trademark “open storybook” by using storybook pages as toilet paper. But it still leaves room for the filmmakers to reap the dopamine benefits of nostalgia. fascinated He invites his audience to remember the childhood wonders associated with Disney films–but also feel a certain smugness about being older, wiser, and able to appreciate Giselle’s irony as she hypnotizes the creatures of the woods into a performance of manual labor.

fascinated It begins with an opening story unspoiled by a pessimistic ogre. It’s set to a sweeping orchestral melody, courtesy of Disney Renaissance maestros Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. The prequel, set in the traditionally animated land of Andalusia, celebrates all the classic Disney symbols and characters that can be crammed into 13 minutes, from cottage princesses to evil queens who love poisoned apples. When Princess Giselle is propelled onto the neon-lit streets of New York, the spirit of Andalusia goes with her, and both Lima and Kelly are careful not to completely discredit the dreams she represents — the Disney brand.

Except for a few moments reminiscent of the biting irony in the original, Giselle’s eternally optimistic aura trumps the stark reality around her. She is even able to get New Yorkers to perform an elaborately choreographed song-and-dance routine about love. Lima’s calculated cycle between adult cynicism and childhood simplicity paid off: The film was a critical and financial success, proving that Disney can safely appeal to time-honoured plot themes and imagery like true love’s coma-curing kiss, as long as they included a dash of subversion and self-awareness that could last. aftera partner piqued the interest of the masses.

Disney knew it had something wholesome in it fascinatedapproach, and it’s not surprising that under the leadership of Bob Iger — a former Disney CEO who recently returned to the role, replacing his designated successor, Bob Chapek — Disney will set its sights on acquiring more intellectual property that it can review and expand for adult viewers. Acquiring Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and 20th Century Fox gave Disney the freedom to bring fans to almost any franchise beloved from childhood. Even Disney animated features with original stories and characters are starting to take lessons from them fascinated, to counter the recycling of Disney’s nostalgia with ambiguous descriptive camera commentary. Just look at Elsa’s frozenlecturing her sister Anna about how irresponsible it is to marry a prince she has just met–and then, with adult cynicism, build an ice castle complete with magic, while singing a Broadway-worthy theatrical tune.

Definitely frustrated It won’t pack the same punch as the fascinated I did it in 2007. We didn’t really wait 15 years to get it fascinated The sequel: We got one for every time Disney relied on the classic wrecker recipe and fairy tale that served it so well during the 2001 ghoul uprising. It’s not that people won’t watch it. frustrated Regardless of mixed reviews and disappointing reactions, the film has become one of the most streamed films in the United States since its release on November 18, becoming the second most watched film across all platforms a week later. Its nostalgic value, strong cast, and status as the new holiday-ready family entertainment ensure that millions of people will keep watching, just as they keep watching Disney’s slightly beloved live-action movies.

I know how to go. Just a few months ago, I temporarily subscribed to Disney Plus just to watch the critically panned remake of my all-time favorite movie, Pinocchio. I sat there moaning from the drawn-out sequence involving cuckoo clocks with Easter egg designs from a Disney movie, seeing clearly enough the cross-branding game the company was playing. (And I wonder why they haven’t yet sent lawyers to Geppetto’s home to issue a cease and desist order.) But a few minutes later, I started to cry as Cynthia Erivo opened the doors to “When You Wish Upon a Star.” Because for a happy, fleeting moment, I’m back to being a carefree 5-year-old who didn’t know climate change existed.

Disney has made billions of dollars in revenue from remakes and reboots that use fascinated Recipe, so she probably still has plenty of time to exploit, to keep that big money. but when fascinatedA sequel of its own reveals early signs of wear and tear in the system, and maybe it’s time to figure out a new game plan before the wheels completely fall off. Every era has its end. Indomitable as it may seem, the Disney Renaissance was not impervious to the changing zeitgeist. Even Gisele knew when it was time to stop acting like she was in Andalusia and adjust to the world of New York. The day may come when Disney has to follow suit.

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