Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles – Women
Gender Roles – Men
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Gender Roles - Women: 1 Star
Giselle is a bright and caring person who lives an idyllic existence, making friends with her happy songs and dreaming of her one true love. While Giselle's obsession with romance and living happily ever after is intentionally over the top and meant to be funny, she is still the film's one and only heroine. Giselle has no goals or ambitions other than falling in love, and takes no initiative to find her own path back to Andalasia. She is content to sew dresses and clean and sing until Edward comes for her. While she clearly represents the absurdity of this love-struck mindset, she has little to offer young women in terms of female empowerment.
Robert's girlfriend Nancy doesn't give young girls a much better option. She initially comes across as a strong-willed woman, who likely has a career of her own and level-headed dreams. But Nancy's development is weak and largely disappointing. She walks out on Robert when she finds Giselle naked in his apartment, but then immediately forgives him when he sends her a bouquet of flowers and tickets to a costume ball. She doesn't turn out to be the realistic alternative to princesses that we hoped she would be, and in the end, she's just as transfixed by fairy tale romance as Giselle.
Gender Roles - Men: 2 Stars
Robert is the only character in Enchanted that has any real dimension to him. He shares just enough of himself with Giselle for us to recognize that he's been hurt, and that he's still tender over his break-up with Morgan’s mother. He is a caring father who doesn’t want his daughter to get lost in impractical fantasies, and even encourages her learn about women like Rosa Parks and Marie Curie, who made tremendous advancements in science and civil rights. Enchanted does a disservice to these women, and to Robert’s character, by turning what might have been an empowering scene into a joke about Marie Curie dying from radiation poisoning.
Robert certainly would have earned Enchanted a higher score if he had stuck to his principles instead of falling in love with the deluded young woman who falls into his life, upending years of practical parenting in favor of a reckless fantasy.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 2 Stars
There is little that is realistic about Giselle’s personality, much less her hair and costumes. She plays the part of a princess who sews her own dresses and calls upon her animal friends to adorn her hair with flowers and ribbons. While much of this is devised for humor’s sake, there is an unfortunate message that accompanies this simplicity. Giselle succeeds in always appearing effortlessly beautiful, despite the time and money that it would take to arrange such a presentation. Giselle ultimately asks Morgan for help on the night of the ball, explaining that she doesn’t know where to find a fairy godmother. Morgan responds by producing her father’s credit card, which he's given her in case of emergencies. Sadly, Morgan considers Giselle’s make-over just such an emergency.
Plot: 2 Stars (Spoilers)
Enchanted unfolds in a predictable pattern. The wicked Queen Narissa eventually tricks Giselle into eating a poisoned apple and she collapses on the ballroom floor. The twist occurs when Prince Edward tries to awaken her with true love’s kiss, and finds that he’s unable to revive her. It turns out to be Robert, rather than Prince Edward, that is able to break the spell with the kiss of true love. In either case, Giselle is simple enough to fall for a shallow trick, and depends upon the love of a relative stranger to wake her up. Giselle is given one major moment to prove that she is more than just another pretty princess in distress. After Robert awakens her, Queen Narissa transforms herself into a dragon and climbs to the top of the building with Robert in her claws. Giselle bravely removes her shoes and takes off after them, saving Robert from falling to his death will a well-timed sword thrust. Unfortunately, this one improbable act of heroism Giselle’s only shining moment.
Character Development: 2 Stars
Giselle is more of a caricature than a real person, and doesn’t have many flaws or complications that make her relatable or sympathetic. The closest she comes is during a rare moment when Robert confronts her on the absurdity of her dreams, urging her to accept the reality that Edward is not coming for her. Giselle is firm in her conviction, and finally becomes angry with Robert’s constant negativity. As the anger works through her, she becomes excited and thrilled that she’s experiencing this new emotion. This is the only scene in which Giselle comes across as fully human.
Love: 2 Stars (Spoilers)
Until the point that Robert and Giselle begin to fall in love, Enchanted is a fun and clever film that pokes fun at the simplicity of fairy tale romances, pointing out how complicated and heartbreaking real relationships can be. It might have retained its charm if Giselle had simply come to New York to remind a burnt-out divorce lawyer how it feels to let yourself truly be in love. If she had helped him rekindle the romance in his relationship with Nancy, and find the strength to let go of some of the hurt of his past relationships. But instead, Giselle steals Robert’s heart in a matter of days, just as he was preparing to propose to his girlfriend of five years. In doing so, Enchanted becomes guilty of the very thing that it’s mocking, and whatever ironic value there was in Giselle’s ridiculous songs and platitudes goes out the window. Giselle leaves behind her life in Andalasia where everything is pristine and beautiful, to live happily ever after with Robert in New York City. Nancy, in turn, leaves behind her life in New York, and all her memories of Robert and Morgan to marry Prince Edward in Andalasia. It's hard to ignore the fact that neither Robert, nor Prince Edward, are called upon to make the same sacrifices.