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Things Only Adults Notice In Enchanted

2007's "Enchanted" is classic Disney fare, with an intriguing twist: Giselle (Amy Adams), a princess from the fairy tale realm of Andalasia, ends up in modern-day New York City, where she is promptly splashed in the face with reality. Now that's a premise just begging for a sprinkling of adult humor. "Enchanted" certainly delivers on that front — after the treacly first 10 minutes are through, a wealth of pop culture references, innuendos, and surprisingly mature themes emerge. "Enchanted" contains compulsive shopping, infidelity, and even animal cruelty. Sure, it's all delivered with sparkly ballgowns and charming smiles, not to mention a number of mysteriously spontaneous dance sequences. But the fact remains that "Enchanted" offers a whole lot of humor that goes sailing over the little one's heads.

With a sequel, 2022's "Disenchanted," coming around the bend, there's no better time to look back at this endearingly eccentric film. These are all the details, nods, and references only adults notice in "Enchanted."

Enchanted's naughty roots

"Enchanted" was a whopping 10 years in the making. Countless versions of the film were considered, many of which were shockingly adult. As producer Doug Short recalled in 2008, one take saw Giselle and Robert (Patrick Dempsey) meet after she's roped into jumping out of the cake at his bachelor party. When she refuses to strip, director Kevin Lima recounted to Den of Geek, she's met with genuine anger.

Unsurprisingly, these initial scripts were deemed too dark, and the film languished in development hell for years. It passed through the hands of multiple big name directors including Rob Marshall, Jon Turteltaub, and Adam Shankman, before finally landing with Kevin Lima. Only when Lima took the helm did they finally crack what "Enchanted" was really about. Up until this point, many approached the film from a satirical angle that openly mocked the idea of the Disney princess. But Lima realized that the film needed to balance out that parodical edge with genuine admiration of the source material. "Let's embrace who we are," Lima recalled saying, "and make it a love letter to Disney." Thankfully, we were spared the bachelor party scene. Yet remnants of this attitude linger, in ways adult viewers will notice. Who can forget the moment Giselle emerges from the shower, covered only by a towel toted by helpful pigeons?

Nathaniel watches a sleazy soap opera

After they've reached New York City, Prince Edward (James Marsden) bunks with Queen Narissa's minion Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) at the shabby Grand Duke Hotel. Edward soon discovers the miracle of TV (which he calls a "magic mirror"). While he's content to watch "Mickey and the Beanstalk," Nathaniel's taste in TV shows is considerably more mature. Specifically, he becomes hooked on a soap opera that mirrors his own experiences: Jerry (Danny Mastrogiorgio), the show-within-a-movie's principal character, is burdened by obsessive infatuation for a woman named Angela (Paige O'Hara). This, of course, reminds Nathaniel of his own unrequited love for Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon).

Jerry and Angela's soap takes a more cynical stance toward love than any Disney movie has ever embraced. "I don't need self-respect," Jerry tells Angela. "I just need your lips against mine." Adults in the audience will appreciate how Disney totally nails the sleazy soap opera vibe here, right down to the dramatic zoom-in on Jerry's face.

Idina Menzel doesn't sing

Theater-savvy adults see Idina Menzel's name on the "Enchanted" cast list and assume she has a leading role. But in fact, she's a supporting player — one without a single song to her name. Sure, this was before Menzel absolutely nailed the role of icy Queen Elsa in "Frozen," but it wasn't like Disney had no idea what she was capable of. "Wicked" and "Rent" had already taken Broadway by storm!

Menzel plays Nancy, Robert's girlfriend. She's Giselle's polar opposite, as a capable career woman Robert goes out of his way to compare to real-world heroines like Marie Curie. She's not without her own magical streak, however: While Robert ends up choosing the princess, Nancy chooses the prince. Our last glimpse of her is at her animated wedding in Andalasia, surrounded by sparkly-eyed animals. 

Adult viewers might mourn her lack of songs, but they also appreciate how well Nancy echoes Menzel's most famous performances. Like Elphaba from "Wicked," a role Menzel originated, Nancy is a hard worker who isn't interested in being rescued. Moreover, Nancy's lack of musical prowess is itself a fun subversion of expectations — much like the rest of the movie. Of course, fans will finally get a chance to hear Nancy sing in "Disenchanted": Menzel confirmed in an interview with Us Weekly that she'll be performing a song with James Marsden.

Princesses of the past make cameos

You might think Giselle is the only Disney princess in "Enchanted," but sharp-eyed grown-ups will find plenty of Easter eggs referencing princesses of the past. Robert's secretary Sam is played by Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel in "The Little Mermaid." Sam is anything but a princess: Snarky and world-weary, she doesn't hesitate to make fun of Giselle. Similarly, Angela, the woman in Nathaniel's soap opera, is played by Paige O'Hara, aka Belle from "Beauty and the Beast." Like Benson, she's cast in a decidedly un-Disneyish role. Moreover, Angela's name, as well as that of her love interest, Jerry, come from two other "Beauty and the Beast" voice artists: Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts) and Jerry Orbach (Lumiere). Funniest of all is Judy Kuhn's cameo. The singing voice of Pocahontas, Kuhn plays an exhausted single mother surrounded by three kids. She answers Prince Edward's knock, takes a good look at him, and says, "You're too late."

"Enchanted" even finds a way of paying homage to older princesses. A reporter briefly seen on TV identifies herself as Mary Ilene Caselotti. This moniker is taken from the names of the actresses who played Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty: Adriana Caselotti, Ilene Woods, and Mary Costa, respectively.

Classic Disney Easter eggs

It's no secret that "Enchanted" is loaded with Disney-centric Easter eggs, but even the savviest adults might struggle to spot all of them. Perhaps most subtly, the filmmakers managed to sneak in some allusions just by framing shots a certain way. For instance, one shot where Robert and Giselle are dancing is composed to look like a similar shot from "Beauty and the Beast." When Giselle scrubs Robert's bathroom, viewers glimpse Giselle's reflection in a soap bubble, just like Cinderella's. 

Some of these references are audial rather than visual. Although it's not shown onscreen, Prince Edward must be watching "Dumbo" on TV at the Grand Duke Hotel, because "Pink Elephants on Parade" can be heard. If you listen carefully, you can hear a hint of "Part of Your World" playing in the background when Giselle gazes into the fish tank at Robert's workplace. Similarly, a variation on the song "Beauty and the Beast" plays during the soap opera segment.

None of those Easter eggs are as impressive as one from the first 10 minutes, however. The Andalasian troll seems to be wearing a loincloth stitched together from the dresses of Disney princesses. If you squint, you can spot Cinderella's maid outfit, and the dress Aurora wears in the woods. Cast your gaze upwards, and you'll see his shell earrings are taken from Ariel's memorable bikini top.

A cartoonish look at divorce

"Enchanted" might be a love story, but it tackles the topic of divorce head-on. Robert, a divorce attorney, is hashing out a pending split between Ethan Banks (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) and Phoebe Banks (Tonya Pinkins). When we meet them, they're shouting at each other. What's worse, the abuse they hurl is all for the sake of a baseball card. Adults will recognize Ethan and Phoebe as a caricature so extreme, they seem to have walked out of a cartoon — just like Giselle. They're also a sharp satire of Hollywood's portrayals of divorce. 

Later in the movie, Ethan and Phoebe begin making moony eyes at each other. Apparently, everything is forgiven, because Giselle taught them how to love once more. This might seem a little hard to accept, seeing as they hate each other's guts up until this point. But "Enchanted" isn't just a spoof — it's also a tribute to the maturity of optimism, however sugary it might seem. Sometimes, it really is as simple as remembering that your loved one's eyes "really do sparkle," as Ethan says. Adults might wonder if this newfound love is going to last — sparkling eyes probably aren't enough to hold them together long-term. But seasoned viewers are also uniquely equipped to know that sometimes, it really is the little things that lead to greater appreciation of a whole person.

Nancy gets the wrong idea

Robert, ever the thoughtful dad, asks Nancy to spend some time with his daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey). But Robert isn't counting on a princess turning up. Naturally, Nancy shows up at the worst possible moment, and ends up drawing conclusions only the adults in the audience will fully grasp.

Upon arriving, Nancy notices that Robert and Morgan's apartment is uncharacteristically clean (thanks to a makeover from Giselle). "Did you guys get a maid?" she asks. Morgan replies, "Not exactly." This is definitely how a young girl might describe her father's mistress. The misunderstanding escalates after Giselle, wearing only a bath towel, stumbles and falls on top of Robert. Still giggling, Giselle greets Nancy cheerfully. To Nancy, this seems like the aftermath of a tryst, while Giselle's blasé attitude implies she's used to seeing plenty of girls pass through Robert's apartment. It's no wonder, then, that Nancy accuses Robert of not letting her spend the night because he's "worried about crowd control." 

Knowing that he's about to lose Nancy, Robert begs her to at least take Morgan to school for "some grown-up-girl bonding time." Nancy retorts, "What, so you can have some 'grown-up-girl bonding time'? I don't think so." It's astonishing how much innuendo fits into this single scene.

Giselle experiences new emotions

For much of the movie's runtime, Giselle's cheerful innocence drives Robert up the wall. But gradually, he warms up to her, and becomes more comfortable around her. He's so comfortable, in fact, that in one scene, he chats with Giselle while wearing only a bathrobe. Despite Robert's newfound respect for Giselle, he still feels he owes it to her to find a gentle way of explaining that her prince isn't coming. Frustrated that Robert has given up on happy endings, Giselle surprises everyone — herself included — with an outburst of anger. 

To Giselle, anger is a foreign feeling she admits she's only heard about secondhand. We suspect it isn't the only new sensation she must be feeling in this moment. On an impulse, she reaches across and strokes Robert's chest. This scene is rather daring for a family movie: Patrick Dempsey's chest hair is plainly visible, and Giselle ever-so-slightly hooks her fingers into his bathrobe. Before things get too steamy, however, the two break away. No doubt they remember that Robert has a girlfriend, and Giselle has a prince. Still, the experience is enough to make Giselle sink onto a chair and murmur, "Oh, my."

Shopping sprees on dad's credit card

After Giselle decides to attend a masquerade ball, she asks Robert's 6-year-old daughter for fashion advice. Morgan's solution is to whip out her father's credit card from his sock drawer and proclaim, "Daddy says it's for emergencies. This is definitely an emergency." She says this with an absolutely hilarious air of solemnity. The two hit a bunch of expensive boutiques and come out loaded with shopping bags. While they're at it, they make a stop at the salon.

No doubt all this extravagant shopping (done without Robert's permission) makes any adults in the audience clench their toes. Obviously, Disney doesn't actually endorse kids blowing their parents' money on high-end garments. This entire scene is tongue-in-cheek. But the youngest kids watching won't know that — they just think unlimited shopping looks fun, and might wonder why their parents don't take them out for similar sprees. Meanwhile, their parents are sitting beside them, praying "Enchanted" doesn't send the message that it's okay to steal your parents' credit cards. 

Pip gets crucified

Pip the chipmunk endures all sorts of indignities throughout "Enchanted." The irrepressible critter witnesses Narissa's scheming, which means Nathaniel must silence him before he can warn Giselle. Nathaniel proceeds to imprison the poor critter in a popcorn machine, seal him in a hamster ball, and press a butter knife to his throat. He saves his worst torture for the Grand Duke Hotel, however.

After Pip tries to pantomime his message to Prince Edward, Nathaniel grabs the chipmunk and stows him in the closet. There, he uses the pinch-clips from a clothes hanger to render Pip completely immobile. There is no mistaking the way Pip is suspended: He's hung by his tiny wrists, just like a victim of crucifixion. To rub it in, Nathaniel takes a Do Not Disturb sign meant to go over the doorknob and places it over Pip's head. It would be funny if it wasn't so horrifying. Then he leaves Pip alone in the closet, whispering, "Sleep tight."

Sleeping tight is probably the last thing audience members will be doing. We don't know how many traumatized kids have had nightmares after seeing such an ordinary household item used as an instrument of torture, but we're betting it's a non-zero number.

Nathaniel confronts his abusive relationship

Not everybody in "Enchanted" gets paired up for their happily ever after. Take Nathaniel, who never gets to be with Queen Narissa. While this is a good thing — Narissa is a real jerk — the movie makes it clear that it still isn't easy for Nathaniel to let go.

Adults will notice right away that Narissa doesn't care about Nathaniel one bit, only stringing him along so that he might do her bidding. It doesn't help that Nathaniel already has low self-esteem. After doing a lot of soul-searching, he asks Prince Edward, "Do you ... like yourself?" Naturally, somebody as blithe as Edward can't even begin to grasp Nathaniel's feelings of self-loathing. "What's not to like?" he replies. This only makes Nathaniel feel even more alone.

Slowly, Nathaniel starts to accept the writing on the wall. He phones in to a radio talk show where callers share their relationship problems and confesses, "I've always treated her like a queen, but lately I'm starting to feel ... like I don't even know her anymore." The radio host advises him to have a heart-to-heart talk with Narissa and "find out how she really feels about [him]." But Nathaniel never actually confronts Narissa, because, deep down, he already knows that she has never loved him. This is an incredibly raw depiction of heartbreak, made all the more impressive for the fact that it's part of "Enchanted."