Enchanted Mormon

By January 15, 2008

So I saw the movie Enchanted at the theater the other night. I know I am going to be subjected to merciless mockery by Chris and David for admitting that here, since I discount National Treasureras something quite below a farcical joke and yet will go with my wife to a children’s movie/chic-flic and actually kind of enjoy it…but alas, ’tis the truth. But what has this got to do with Mormon studies? Well, part way through the movie my wife leaned over and told me she had heard that the leading actress, Amy Adams, was Mormon. That piqued my interest. So when we got home we googled it, and, lo and behold, on the infallible Wikipedia, found the following: “Adams was raised in the Mormon religion, although her family left the church after Adams’ parents divorced when she was eleven.”[1]

As for speculating how this Mormon upbringing may have influenced her career as an actor, well…Adams has described how her father would write out skits with parts for her and each of her six siblings to act out when she was young. Though she doesn’t explicitly link it to her Mormon upbringing (as far as my googling has revealed), this sounds an awful lot like some family’s family home evening activities to me (though my family never did anything quite so elaborate). I think the influence of her childhood Mormonism could go deeper than that, however. In describing the roles she chooses, Adams statedthat she has “always been attracted to characters who are positive and come from a very innocent place.” Hmm…connection? When I mentioned to my Dad, who had also seen the film, that Adams was raised Mormon, he quippingly commented that it was a fitting role then (in Enchanted, her character begins as a 2-d, animated fairytale princess who, after being pushed down a wishing-well/portal, tumbles into real-life New York, where, though she becomes a part of the real world, she never quite lets go of the happily-ever-after ideology of her fairytale cosmology).

Adams is quickly becoming one of the brightest new stars on the Hollywood scene. It will be interesting to speculate, as her career unfolds, how her Mormon upbringing during those years that are most crucial to character molding might have informed her acting. And though her family’s decision to leave the LDS Church might make Adams seem more of a disenchanted Mormon (as far as I know, she hasn’t returned), I imagine there is something in the enchantment of children’s Primary and Mormon Monday nights that sticks with a person and surely has some influence on the characters one seeks out and the persona one depicts on screen. While her most recent roleas a glamorous actress/singer who is carrying on three concurrent romances which she must eventually choose between might seem a far cry from anything that might be considered a Mormon-informed role, perhaps future roles will be more conducive to such speculating…or perhaps I’m just reading way too much into this. Yeah, probably so.

[1] The Wikipedia statement is linked to articles from The Observer and New York Times.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Enchanted? Seriously, Stan?? To be fair, I’ve actually talked to a fair amount of people (both female and male) that have enjoyed this film. Either way, your ability to find something Mormon-related in any movie amazes me.

    I am curious about your dad’s comparison of a typical Mormon life and the movie. What is the real-life equivalent of the “wishing well/portal” that transports one into “real life”? BYU? A Mission?

    Comment by Christopher — January 15, 2008 @ 2:15 pm

  2. I actually rather enjoyed it. James Marsden’s underrated.

    Interestingly, there was a CNN article a month or so ago in which Adams expressed some discontent over her life to this date – particularly, that she’s not yet married or had children.

    Katherine Heigl, of Knocked Up, was also raised Mormon. She still claims to kneel by her bed, fold her arms, and pray every night.

    Comment by matt b — January 15, 2008 @ 2:39 pm

  3. [Rolling eyes]

    Maybe we should be using this post as an example of how fluid “gender” is as a concept. 😉

    In all seriousness, this is a fascinating exercise in speculation that could be applied to several celebrities with Mormon backgrounds, like Jewel, Brandon Flowers, Marilyn Manson (wink, wink), and Steve Martin (wink, wink). Perhaps the question should not be: is [insert actress/actor name here] a Mormon? But rather, can we see any evidence of a Mormon background in this person’s work?

    Comment by David Grua — January 15, 2008 @ 2:44 pm

  4. There was another Mormon element, in the previews actually, that I didn’t catch onto but my dad did (generation gap thing). In the preview for Martin Lawerence’s new Disney movie, College Road Trip, Martin and his daughter catch a ride with a really cheezy white daddy-daughter duo, also headed to the same school, who drive them crazy by singing “itsy-bitsy-tini-wini-yellow-polka-dot-bikini.” I didn’t realize it, but I guess the white (annoying) father is Donny Osmond. Wonderful stereotype–annoying white people who sing silly songs together–perpetuated by one of our own favs: Donny Osmond (my Mom knew him in high school and thought he was wierd because he wore purple socks).

    Chris: The portal…open to any postmodern interpretation you’d like.

    Comment by stan — January 15, 2008 @ 7:30 pm

  5. In Stan’s defense: Enchanted is an excellent family movie for all children regardless of age – one of the better ones I have seen in a long time.

    Speculate away. I like brain candy with my meat.

    Comment by Ray — January 15, 2008 @ 11:25 pm

  6. Hey Stan!
    I also loved “Enchanted”! But then again, I’m a sucker for silly romantic movies. Especially ones that can make me feel like a little girl again. Those were the good old days, when everything was possible. I hope I’m still being that way…

    Admin: Remainder of comment has been deleted. The Juvenile Instructor blog is not a forum for advertising upcoming LDS movies. Please keep comments on topic.

    Comment by Tammy — January 17, 2008 @ 2:10 pm


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