Enchanted (PG), Bee Movie, Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Enchanted? Oh yes, this is Disney at its fairytale best

The least headache-inducing of this week's three family films is Disney's Enchanted, which seems, for the first 10 minutes, to be the sort of hand-drawn cartoon which the studio was making when Walt was still in charge. Its heroine is Giselle, who lives in a storybook forest, where she trills ballads about spring-cleaning her cottage, with the assistance of her four-legged woodland chums. She's to marry the prince of her dreams, too, until his wicked stepmother banishes her to "a place where there are no happily ever afters" New York City.

From then on, the film is live-action, and Giselle is a flesh-and-blood woman, played by Amy Adams. Her tendency to dance and sing whenever the mood takes her disconcerts everyone she meets, including single dad (Patrick Dempsey) who lets her sleep on his sofa. And although her soprano yodel can still summon wild animals to help with the housework, they're now rats, roaches and one-legged pigeons.

Adams, who was Oscar-nominated for her part in Junebug, is perfect in the fish-out-of-water role, getting laughs, and the audience's sympathies, simply by playing Giselle's twinkling naivety absolutely straight. She can sing, too. There's also rousing support from Susan Sarandon, as the witch, and from James Marsden, as the handsome, yet none-too-brainy prince who follows Giselle into the real world.

The joy of Enchanted is that it's a mischievous pastiche of Disney conventions, but it's also wholesome and, yes, enchanting. And it could be a sign that Disney is finally playing to its strengths. When it comes to hip, ironic 3D computer animation, Disney is never going to beat Pixar and Dreamworks, and they shouldn't bother to try. What children want from a Disney film is fairy tales, a few songs, and lush animation. Enchanted may be mostly live-action, but it still qualifies as Disney's best cartoon in years.

Speaking of hip, ironic, 3D computer animation, Bee Movie is co-written and co-produced by Jerry Seinfeld, who also voices its stripy hero, Barry B Benson. At first, Seinfeld's comic outlook fits surprisingly neatly into a world of cartoon insects, just as Woody Allen's did in Antz. In Bee Movie, bees work for the Honex corporation, a division of Honesco, and their lives are so short that they spend only three days at college. Then things start to go awry. It's weird enough when Barry starts dating a human florist, voiced by Renee Zellweger, but when he decides to sue the human race for using honey without the bees' permission it's like a brainstorming session in which no one had the courage to criticise the boss's bad ideas. The Seinfeldish gags keep buzzing along, but as the film flits from coming-of-age movie to romantic comedy to courtroom drama to disaster movie to heist movie and then back to disaster movie, it's so undisciplined that Bee Movie is a "C" at best.

It could be worse, though. Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium is set in a magical toyshop owned by a 243-year-old wizard, played as a lisping simpleton by Dustin Hoffman. He's planning to hand over the store to his assistant, Natalie Portman. And that's all there is to it. There's forced whimsy by the bucketful, some shoplifting from Dr Seuss and Roald Dahl's own wonder emporia, and innumerable lectures about believing in yourself.

However, beneath all the quirkiness and the preachiness there's almost no story left on the shelves. Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium is the setting for a film. Now someone just has to come up with the film.

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders