Agreeing on a film that a middle aged couple and their kids all want to see is a challenge every school holidays. Our 13 year old daughter expressed no interest in ‘I am Legend’ and ‘American Gangster’ – both high on our 17 year old son’s ‘must see’ list. No-one but me showed any interest in ‘Atonement’ despite the romantic theme (which I hoped would entice my daughter) and the chance to see Keira Knightly as wet camisole competition entrant (which I thought might be leverage for spouse and son). We settled on ‘Enchanted’ the Disney studios’ homage to and gentle mockery of what I have read described elsewhere as ‘its own back catalogue’!
It is actually bit broader than that with many of the industry’s conventions - especially the set pieces of lavish musicals like ‘The Sound of Music’ and ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ - coming in for recreation in a teasing yet celebratory way. By far my favourite was the translation of Snow White’s famous transformation of the dwarves’ grotty cottage with the help of her forest friends! The film establishes in the opening animated scenes that the heroine, Giselle, has a retinue of saccharine woodland chums ready to whip up a proxy prince charming for her out of objets trouvé and garland her with flowers.
When she is later transported to 21st century New York City and is dismayed at the disarray in the apartment of the people who have given her shelter overnight she employs the traditional Andalasian (Disney) solution of calling melodiously to nearby fauna to come and wield brooms and dusters to make everything shiny new! This being New York though, raccoons, chipmunks and blue birds are in short supply and her respondents are CGI rats, pigeons and cockroaches. There follows a joyous sequence in which the vermin cooperate with Giselle to make the apartment spick and span. My favourite vignette is three rats heartily scrubbing the toilet bowl with the family’s toothbrushes!
Having transformed the flat in best Snow White/Mary Poppins fashion, the animals roost on the furniture looking pleased with themselves and revelling in their jolly cross species cooperation. Just as you are thinking ‘Aah’ - one of the pigeons leans over and consumes one of the ‘roaches in a single gulp! Reality check (of sorts)!
But life, as we know, imitates art and I was reminded of a time soon after I started work at my current location opposite Sydney’s Belmore Park and saw a homeless man distributing stale bread to huge flocks of pigeons. ‘Aah’ I thought (despite my rational mind being only too aware that environmentally it was NOT a good thing). Then some of the pigeons started tussling over some crusts and without hesitation the old bloke gave the one he considered the greediest a boot up the arse!
The cinematic genre bending goes on... I walked through the park the other morning and the pigeons were engaged in a Hitchcock ‘homage’, cooing and glowering from the branches in their hundreds! Watch out cantankerous old bloke I thought!