102 Dalmatians (2000) - News Poster

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Enchanted

Enchanted
Opens Nov. 21

Enchantment only goes so far in Disney's Enchanted, a sometimes clever, other times grating mix of live action and animation that plays tricks with levels of movie reality as the world of fairy-tale animation invades contemporary New York.

The film from director Kevin Lima, who has worked in both formats (the animated Tarzan and live-action 102 Dalmatians), has moments of hilarious inspiration. But the overwhelming default mode is youthful slapstick, so the movie might strain adults' patience even as it tests the attention span of children with its 107-minute running time.

Warner Bros. animators of old could mix genres and play with reality in the space of a three-minute Looney Tunes short: One of the great existential moments in cinema occurs when Daffy Duck experiences a mental breakdown as his landscape and genre keep changing thanks to a sadistic animator named Bugs Bunny. But here things are more belabored. Perhaps a Disney film can't quite satirize the fantasy world on which so much of the Disney empire rests.

The film starts out in an animated world of 1930s Disney, the world of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, where a pretty young girl named Giselle (a buoyant Amy Adams) lives in a forest, chats with chirpy animals and sings songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz while awaiting "true love's kiss." Prince Edward (James Marsden) delivers this kiss, just after rescuing Giselle from an ogre, and the two agree to wed the next day.

But the prince's wicked stepmother, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon, going full throttle), anxious not to lose her throne to this upstart, casts Giselle into a deep, deep well, thus banishing her to "a place where there is no happy ever after." This turns out to be live-action Manhattan.

Popping through a manhole in Times Square, Giselle is utterly lost. She eventually comes under the protection of Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a divorce attorney -- no happy ever after indeed! -- and his young daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey), who is delighted to have a princess in the household. Following Giselle down the well into the world of live action is Prince Edward, his duplicitous servant, Nathaniel (Timothy Spall), and Giselle's chipmunk pal Pip, who loses his powers of speech in this new world.

The animation invasion produces two amusing sequences. When Giselle summons her animal friends to clean up Robert's high-rise apartment, what responds are New York wild life -- flies, pigeons, rats and cockroaches, who cheerfully freshen up the place. Giselle embarrasses Robert by bursting into song in Central Park, but soon park workers, street musicians and the like join in until it looks like the reunion tour of the Village People.

Alas, slapstick takes over, and lame bits about poison apples and the stepmother turning into a cheesy dragon dominate the second half. Then the logic of the two unbridgeable worlds gets murky. Giselle starts to adapt to real life: She learns about "dates," the glories of shopping and stops singing. Her growing attraction to Robert at the expense of her prince works to a degree, but the prince pairing off with Robert's fiancee, Nancy (the supertalented but thoroughly wasted Idina Menzel), moments after meeting her makes no sense. The CG-animated chipmunk plays terrifically in the "real world," but the prince with his sword and frilly get-up works only for a mild gay joke.

You get the sense that Lima and writer Bill Kelly barely scratched the surface of possibilities of their clever but largely unexplored gimmick. Instead, the film settles for the obvious and heavy-handed. Meanwhile, it fails to fully exploit its cast, with the exception of Adams, who believably transitions from a cartoon to flesh-and-blood character without losing her fairy-tale outlook.

ENCHANTED

Walt Disney Pictures

Walt Disney Pictures presents a Barry Sonnenfeld/Josephson production

Director: Kevin Lima

Screenwriter: Bill Kelly

Producers: Barry Josephson, Barry Sonnenfeld

Executive producers: Chris Chase, Sunil Perkash, Ezra Swerdlow

Director of photography: Don Burgess

Production designer: Stuart Wurtzel

Music: Alan Menken

Costume designer: Mona May

Editors: Stephen A. Rotter, Gregory Perler

Cast:

Giselle: Amy Adams

Robert Philips: Patrick Dempsey

Prince Edward: James Marsden

Nathaniel: Timothy Spall

Nancy: Idina Menzel

Morgan Philips: Rachel Covey

Narrator: Julie Andrews

Queen Narissa: Susan Sarandon

MPAA rating PG, running time 107 minutes.

Gruffudd Pulls Fansite After Fiancee Jibes

Fantastic Four hunk Ioan Gruffudd has shut down his official fan site after discovering fans had been criticizing his actress fiancee Alice Evans. Gruffudd had been financially backing the website www.IoanOnline.com, but withdrew his support after reading negative comments about his 102 Dalmatians co-star and partner on the site's message boards. The Welsh actor's spokeswoman Pippa Beng says, "It's true Ioan has withdrawn his support following some comments that have been made. Ioan is sorry that this has happened and has posted a message on his website for fans." The website's American owner is devastated at the news, adding, "I can't afford to keep the site up on my own and won't do it without that it support, so it's closing down."

TPS drinking BVI-TV 12-pack

TPS drinking BVI-TV 12-pack
CANNES -- French digital satellite platform TPS has inked a 12-picture deal with Buena Vista International TV, the companies said Tuesday. The deal gives TPS first-window pay TV rights to movies including Pearl Harbor, 102 Dalmatians and The Kid, starring Bruce Willis, which will be screened on TPS Star, its premium channel launched last year. This will be followed by a five-year second pay TV window for upcoming feature films distributed by BVI-TV. The second-run movies will air on TPS' roster of movie channels. A five-year pay-per-view agreement also begins immediately. "We're pleased to continue and reinforce our relationship with Buena Vista International, initiated in 1997," said Emmanuel Florent, president and managing director of TPS. "This new deal with BVI-TV secures top Hollywood blockbuster entertainment for TPS viewers." TPS is 66% owned by French network TF1 and 34% by M6, France's other major commercial free-to-air broadcaster. TPS has about 1.1 million subscribers, compared with more than 1.8 million for its rival CanalSatellite, controlled by Vivendi Universal. Universal Studios recently was forced to sell pay TV rights to TPS on a number of its pictures, including The Mummy Returns, under antitrust conditions imposed by the European Union to prevent Vivendi Universal from cornering too much of the French market.

Andrews pops in as 'Eloise' nanny

Andrews pops in as 'Eloise' nanny
Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actress Julie Andrews has signed to star in the ABC telefilms Eloise at the Plaza and Eloise at Christmastime, the first screen adaptations of Kay Thompson's classic children's books, which are illustrated by Hilary Knight. Kevin Lima (102 Dalmatians) has come aboard to direct both films about the mischievous 6-year-old who lived at New York's Plaza Hotel. Andrews will play Nanny, the British guardian to Eloise. Nine-year-old newcomer Sofia Vassilieva (The Brady Bunch in the White House) has been cast in the title role in the films, which will be shot back-to-back starting next month in Toronto and New York.

Fans Stage A Surprise Welcome For Ioan

  • WENN
Fans Stage A Surprise Welcome For Ioan
Fans of 102 Dalmatians (2000) actor Ioan Gruffudd have showed their cheeky adoration for the Welsh heart-throb by throwing a surprise party in his honour - complete with a choir. Hunky Ioan, 26, has been revealing the ingenious lengths his female admirers go to. He says, "They found out where I was via the internet, and clubbed together to send a cheque to the local pub. It must have been quite a lot of money because a choir came down." But this is not the first time, Ioan has received a shock from his fans. Last year two American women in their forties gained late night entry to Ioan's London home. He adds, "It was 11:30pm. I was in my boxer shorts and I invited them in. They were taking pictures in my kitchen! I asked how they found my address and one worked for an airline and discovered that I was on the Frequent Flyer list. They were very naughty. It could have been dangerous, but I was lucky."

Glenn Mellows With Age

  • WENN
Glenn Mellows With Age
Hollywood legend Glenn Close is slowing down her acting career - as she feels life is passing her by. The 53-year-old 102 Dalmatians (2000) star, who has a 12-year-old daughter, is uncertain about her film future and wants to spend more time with family and friends. She says, "I'm on the cusp of age where everything is harder - and soon things will start melting. I'm compelled to seek fewer people, less noise, less pressure, and I've worked so hard, I'm wondering when I'm going to start enjoying it. I've never turned down anything I thought was worth doing - yet."

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