Everyone Has Reversals

Story Lessons, Big and Small (Warning: Spoilers!)

July 13, 2008

You're Not My Real Mom

I'm baaaa-aaaack! Hmm, this should be a post about Poltergeist. It isn't. One day, one day.

Many apologies to the 6 of you who check in regularly -- you know how it is: sometimes the time you have for writing has to be spent, well, writing!

Today's post is about Enchanted. A movie that -- come on -- is pretty darn sweet. (Too sweet for some, maybe but I've got a wickedly tolerant sweet tooth.)

The film does a lot of things right. Its just over-the-top old-school Disney opening. Its musical numbers that border on satire ("Happy Working Song" sees rats and roaches helping Giselle tidy up the apartment). And the arcs are, for the most part, solid: Patrick Dempsey's divorce lawyer figures out what pure, un-cynical love is... the little chipmunk-lackey has his change of heart, as he witnesses the power of love...

My one real issue? This movie sends up fairy tales and princes and earnestness and even 'true love's kisses'. But it does nothing with the idea of the stepmother.

The evil stepmother's one of the most iconic villain archetypes ever. And this movie does absolutely nothing to turn that notion on its head. Evil Queen Narissa doesn't want her stepson to marry, so she'll remain queen. She's an evil stepmother who stays evil. Fine.

But there's also Nancy, Patrick Dempsey's fiancee -- and his daughter's soon-to-be-stepmother. The woman's clearly not comfortable with children, but nor is she evil. She's just apparently not the right woman for Prince Patrick. Nancy deserves true love, and in the end, finds it, becoming Edward's queen. Great, all great. But not once in there could we explore the notion that one can become a stepmother without being a child-hating bitch? The movie could spare no time for the plight of the beleaguered stepmother?

What an opportunity that was. Did they feel that other Susan Sarandon movie had said all there was to say?

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