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November 7, 2007

The "Happy Working Song"

is in neato quicktime...
Download: "Enchanted's" "Happy Working Song"
care of the LA Times.com who released this article below today...

An early look at Disney's 'Enchanted'

Those longing for Walt Disney to return to the classic animated style of yore are in luck – in a way.

The studio's "Enchanted," due in theaters Nov. 21, is a throwback to Disney animated features "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty." "Enchanted's" opening 10 minutes, in fact, play-out like a long-lost 1940s animated film, complete with old-school, 2-D-style animation.

And then its main character, the Snow White-like Giselle, played by Amy Adams, is transported to modern-day Manhattan, where cute and cuddly forest critters are replaced by dancing, computer-animated roaches.

The fairy tale, directed by Kevin Lima (“Tarzan,” “102 Dalmatians”) is part homage to traditional Disney musicals, with references to everything from “Sleeping Beauty” to “The Little Mermaid” to “Beauty and the Beast,” in addition to a re-imagining of the classic, princess-finds-her-prince yarn.

Banished to New York by the jealous Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), who pulls the ol’ poison apple trick to reek revenge, Adams give a star-making performance as Giselle, playing the character’s naivety straight.

But as Giselle awaits the inevitable rescue by her Prince Edward (James Marsden), she’s forced to come of age away from her magic kingdom, and learns from handsome divorce lawyer Robert Phillip (Patrick Dempsey) that adult relationships aren’t always the happily-ever-after cliché.

But for all its modern twists, “Enchanted” fits firmly in the traditional Disney model. The film’s charm and innocence is an unabashed nod to a pre-“Shrek,” pre-“Alladin” era of irony and edginess.

“It’ll be nice if people feel nostalgia for 2-D animation,” says Steven Schwartz, who wrote lyrics for five original songs with composer Alan Menken. The pair collaborated on 1996's “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and 1995's “Pocahontas,” which won Oscars for Best Song and Best Original Score, and Menken has composed music for such Disney classics as “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast,” among others.

“Enchanted” presented the Schwartz and Menken with distinct challenges. The pair were directed to reference Disney favorites. In fact, “Enchanted’s” “Happy Working Song,” for instance, takes inspiration from “Snow White’s” “Whistle While You Work.” Yet, the writers had to be careful not to bombard the audience with plot-distracting allusions.

Additionally, as the musical moves to the non-animated world of New York, audiences will need to believe that Giselle’s way with a tune can get the denizens of Central Park dancing.

Here, Menken and Schwartz discuss the songs of “Enchanted,” and share clips of two of the film's non-animated numbers, “Happy Working Song” and “That’s How You Know,” for your viewing pleasure.

Talk about your objective in writing and composing the songs for "Enchanted," as they’re filled with references to past Disney films.

Stephen: We were trying to channel, I guess, classic Disney, and push it just a step further. We were trying to walk the line of both being an affectionate homage, but also poking a bit of fun at it. As one moves through the film, the music gets increasingly modern. Certainly for the beginning, with [opening song] "True Love’s Kiss," we looked at three Disney movies and how they were musicalized – "Snow White," "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty."

Alan: To start in the film in the Walt era, there was really this hyper innocence, this hyper escape. That made for the best possible contrast for when Giselle ends up in Times Square. Because we begin with this whole world where we exaggeratedly break into song, it gives us a real opportunity for the audience to go, 'We get it. We get the joke. We get the conceit and we’re with you.'

Did you have to check yourself, as in did you ever feel you were mimicking something from the past too much?

Alan: No. The whole conceit of this musical just made going right into those styles dead-on the perfect way to approach it. It was the situations in the film that would turn the songs on an angle, but musically, I went straight at it.

Let’s look at a song like 'That’s How You Know,' which is Giselle's big number in Central Park. How much of a song like this is written visually, as it’s really about her going through the park and bringing her world to New York.

Stephen: That was a song where we wanted to have a little fun with ourselves. There are references to "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl," some of Alan’s stuff from "The Little Mermaid."

Alan: I wanted to go for a salsa riff at the top. I certainly didn’t want to ape those other songs. I just wanted the flavor of New York somehow.

Stephen: We wanted a moment where she inappropriately broke into song, but then it sort of infected -- if you will -- the world around her … I wanted to ask what would happen if one of these people just broke into song. In real life, people would be looking at you like you’re crazy. I thought that would be fun.

Since this film gave you opportunities to look back at other Disney films, was there anything in particular you wanted to dig up?

Stephen: Deliberate is the wrong word, but we were very clear about from whence we were taking inspiration from what songs. The prince riding on his horse in the forest in the beginning, and hearing the voice in the distance is directly from "Sleeping Beauty," and that was very conscious.

Also, there’s a song, "So Close," that refers to "Beauty and the Beast," and this is something I find very funny, and this is very ‘in.’ The camera moves in the original animated "Beauty and the Beast" were the first time in animation that they imitated live-action camera moves, and now in this live-action version, we’re imitating the imitation of those camera moves. There’s all sorts of geeky type of references like that for Disney geeks like me.

I wanted to ask you about 'Happy Working Song,' particularly what Amy brings to that. This is the first time she attempts to sing in Manhattan, and she sort of powers her way through it, even though the vermin of Manhattan are completely foreign to her. She's going to muscle through it no matter what.

Stephen: Exactly. And that song – full marks to Kevin Lima. When I came onto the project, that moment was there in the script, and that was one of the things that made me want to do the movie. What is wonderful about Amy's performance is that she understood the tone. She understood how to become that character, as if Snow White were brought into our world. And she does this all without commenting on it. She’s extremely charming and endearing, but she never once looks as if she’s trying to be funny.

The film gets very contemporary as it builds to a grand, fantasy finale, with Giselle even going shopping in Manhattan.

Alan: There was a lot of discussion about that sequence. At one point, we wrote a Queen Narissa song. We wanted to maybe have Narissa enter with a song called 'Nobody Gets in My Way.'

Stephen: I still would have liked to. I still think we should have done something for her … We were going to do like ["West Side Story's" pre-climax number] "Tonight’s Quintet."

As the film gets more modern, did you worry that it would be jarring for viewers, especially after beginning as an animated movie?

Stephen: The hope is that people will get what we’re doing. Giselle moves through time. She starts out as a 1940s animated girl, and becomes a 2007 contemporary woman. One hopes that people will understand that. If that journey isn’t landing, or people are thrown out of the movie, then we haven’t been successful.

(Photos and clips courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures)


Posted by dschnee at November 7, 2007 2:12 PM