This film primarily provides parodies of the following tropes:
Adoring the Pests: This movie is all over this trope. Giselle calls the "forest creatures" of New York (cockroaches, pigeons and rats) to help her clean up Robert's apartment. Hilarity Ensues when he walks in with the creatures still in the place.
Inverted in that the citizens of New York find Pip the chipmunk as disgusting as any sewer vermin.
Affectionate Parody: Disney sends up their own animated canon, and they have a lot of fun doing it.
All Men Are Perverts: "Remember, when you go out, not to put on too much makeup, otherwise the boys will get the wrong idea. And you know how they are... They're only after one thing." From the 6-year old, no less.
Angry Black Man: Gender Flipped by Robert's client and the bus driver that Edward encountered in Times Square, though the latter is really justified for being angry. Downplayed by the former's estranged husband. Completely averted by the guys who sang with Giselle at Central Park.
Arc Words: "I've been dreaming of a true love's kiss..."
Art Shift: From animation to live action when Giselle gets banished to New York.
Artistic License - Music: "So Close" is introduced as "The King's Waltz." Except that "So Close" is written in 6/8 time. Waltzes are always in 3/4.
Award Bait Song: "So Close", which weirdly enough, is the one song in the movie where the placement makes sense — it's used as the "slow dance" song at a ball. Giselle's magic voice not necessary! Strangely enough, it's a bittersweet love song — apt for our leading couple but presumably less so for the other dancers, who, while invited to dance with someone they did not come to the ball with, presumably do not have the same unresolved feelings for one another. Despite "So Close" being the only true award bait song, the film took 3 of the 5 nomination slots in the Best Original Song category at the Oscars. Although it lost to the Award Bait Song in Once, Enchanted's domination, a year after Dreamgirls accomplished the same feat, made the Academy put a one-song-per-film cap on the nominations.
Big Damn Kiss: Robert and Giselle's kiss in the rain near the end of the movie.
Bigger on the Inside: Giselle's carriage has room for all of her animal friends, including a cow. Really, it was already quite a stunt to get her dress to fit in there comfortably.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: A rare in-universe version. Robert is confused when all of Central Park bursts spontaneously into song during the "That's How You Know". To him it's a BLAM. His reaction is also a lampshade of the Spontaneous Choreography, since unlike a pure BLAM the sequence also advances the plot. It leads to a romantic make-up gift from Robert to Nancy because of the earlier Not What It Looks Like scene.
The Disney Channel airing omits a scene in which Edward takes advantage of a guard's being distracted by a dog taking a leak in order to slip into Robert's apartment complex unnoticed. Instead, he is shown simply entering the apartment without having to distract anyone first.
Bystander Syndrome: Giselle, wearing a huge poofy wedding dress pops out of a manhole and runs into traffic, causing an accident, and babbling about a prince and a castle and gets nothing more than a few confused/annoyed Aside Glances — well, this is New York City! Stranger things happen every day.
Cassandra Truth: Robert assumes that some old lady is lying to Giselle about having seen Edward, since Robert wasn't there to see Edward stab a bus.
The scene where Edward rides on the roof of the bus frames him with a poster of Superman Returns, another James Marsden film, in the background. There's also a poster of a musical version of Hairspray, whose film version also has Marsden, but filming for Enchanted probably happened first.
Additionally, you can see posters for both Wicked and Rent in Times Square... two musicals Idina Menzel (Nancy) is pretty famous for starring in.
Clown Car: In the beginning, Giselle gets out of her coach in her wedding dress, and Nathaniel is run over by all the animals that were apparently in the coach with her. Even though her dress is so big, it's hard to tell how she fit in the car herself. One suspects that the coach must be a formerTARDIS.
Coincidental Broadcast: The TV in Edward's motel room is showing an interview with Giselle when he asks it to reveal where she is. It does appear that he's been channel surfing all evening, though.
Curtain Clothing: On her second day in New York, Giselle makes herself a dress out of Robert's living room curtains (complete with shot of the curtains hanging in the windows with appropriately-shaped holes in them); Robert is upset. On day three, she makes herself another dress out of Morgan's bedclothes; by this point, Robert is merely resigned to fate.
Dances and Balls: Being a sort of parody on Fairy Tales, it has a dramatic and grand Dance Ball near the end. It's complete with Giselle looking stunning in her dress and Robert showing that, although he doesn't like dancing, he actually can.
And the very end provides us with real world woman meets cartoon prince.
Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Early on, Robert discourages Morgan's interest in fairy-tales. He tries to encourage her in more practical dreams, giving a book about real-world heroines such as Marie Curie and Eleanor Roosevelt. It's implied that his divorce has left him disillusioned about love.
The Fashionista: Nancy, who is a fashion designer. When she left with Edward, Giselle takes over her business.
Female Gaze: The "I'm angry!" scene in which Giselle feels anger for the first time and is thrilled. She gets very close to Robert, who's only wearing a bathrobe, and we're treated to a nice close up of her feeling up Patrick Dempsey's bare and exposed chest. It's her Love Epiphany and also implied to be the first time she's ever experienced sexual arousal.
Giselle, obviously, although a lot of things are ignored for the sake of keeping the plot on track.
This actually gets subverted a bit, in the scene where Edward and Nathaniel are in a motel room, and turn on the TV. Initially, they're doing the traditional 'Fish out of Water' bit, but they fairly quickly figure out how to use it, that it's not tiny people trapped inside, and are even able to use the remote quite well. This is probably how someone who had never seen a TV would react: Alarm, but quick adaptation. They do continue to think of it as a controllable magic mirror, but honestly, that's pretty accurate. Their cultural world view just pre-assumes magic instead of technology.
Similarly, Giselle doesn't know how the shower works, but figures it out very quickly without any fuss. She also figures out how to empty the vacuum cleaner via a song verse.
Early in the film, Giselle takes an apple that has been bitten and sees if she can use it as the mouth on her mannequin of the Prince. Later, she takes a near-fatal bite of a poisoned apple.
Also, in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it example, the blast of fire unleashed in anger by Narissa near the beginning bears the silhouette of a gangly, serpentine-looking dragon. Guess what she turns into at the climax?
Also Giselle's mannequin of her dream prince. Its appearance and the outfit it was wearing was really similar to Robert and what he wore to the ball.
There's also a deleted scene included on the DVD where Nancy and a co-worker talk about how she's a closet romantic, foreshadowing her and Edward's Last Minute Hookup.
In Times Square, there are posters of shows (see above) that also starred two cast members of this film. And they're your Beta Couple folks! May also double as an in-universe Hilarious in Hindsight.
For Happiness: Giselle's life philosophy, whether it's musical numbers, pretty dresses, or giving love a second chance.
The fourth apple that Giselle holds and successfully ate is the poisoned apple. She got better though.
The fourth time the sewer portal opens from Andalasia, it is the Big Bad who comes out of it. Not only did she do it ominously, but she wasted no time causing havoc upon arriving. However, she is technically the fifth Andalasian to come out of there since Edward and Pip simultaneously arrived during the second opening. The actual fourth Andalasian to arrive is Nathaniel.
Friend to All Children: Giselle gets along with Morgan really well. She is also seen tending to a group of children at her Botique during the epilogue.
Friend to All Living Things: Played straight in the animated opening section. Spoofed for laughs in the live-action scenes, where Giselle charms vermin into cleaning Robert's apartment.
Funny Background Event: There is one point in the big "That's How You Know" dance number where the performers are all marching across a bridge and people in the boats in the water below are not paying any attention to them.
When Robert and Nancy make up after that number, you can see a worker in the background is trying to get Giselle to stop messing with the fashion material.
When Nathaniel first pops out of the manhole, the utility workers, exasperated as Edward popped out a little earlier that morning, ask him if he's looking for a beautiful princess as Edward was. Nathaniel's reply: "No. I'm looking for a prince, actually." The stunned expressions on the utility crew's faces are obvious.
The Not What It Looks Like scene is pretty much one long string of crap put past the radar or possibly Parental Bonus, since while the kids won't know what's implied, their parents will. For one thing, save for a towel, Giselle starts out naked on top of Robert. Nancy sarcastically asks if Robert was having some "grown-up girl bonding time." And when Giselle asks if Nancy thought they kissed, Robert replies: "Yeah. Something like that."
The scene where Edward is looking for Giselle in the apartment building. Behind the one of the doors he knocks on, he finds a stereotypical biker...who grins mischievously at him. Edward politely excuses himself. The romantic-looking scenery of the room behind the biker didn't help things any.
Before that scene, Edward runs into a heavily pregnant woman (played by Judy Kuhn), who already has several children. Upon seeing him at the door, she sarcastically states "You're too late." He says, "My apologies."
Then there's this little nugget of dialogue, from Morgan and Giselle's shopping montage:
Morgan: And you don't wanna wear too much make-up, because then boys get the wrong idea...and you know they're only after one thing! Giselle: What's that? Morgan: ... I don't know. Nobody will tell me.
The high volume of stuff that slipped through the cracks probably comes from the fact that the script originally wasn't written for Disney, or for kids. In fact, it was first purchased by Touchstone Pictures, Disney's adult label. According to an article in Entertainment Weekly that ran just before the film's release, the original script was quite risqué and Disney had to cut lots of crap as it was. Considering the original script apparently contained a scene where Giselle gets mistaken for a stripper, there were probably lots of Censor Decoys for Disney to deal with.
When Giselle runs over to the old homeless man, you can briefly see hookers on the street.
The movie also gets literal crap past the radar. And not simple crap by itself: you know the Nobody Poops rule? It gets avertedbig time when Narissa announces she's going to come to the real world, with Pip literally crapping himself. Onscreen.
After Edward stabs the bus at Times Square, one of the angry passengers actually does shout "Get the fuck out of there"!
When a little man accidentally finds his way under Giselle's dress, it is implied that his snarky "Geez lady, are you for real?!" remark is a frustrated comment because, since Giselle was wearing old-school bloomers, he didn't had the Male Gaze he wanted.
Alternatively it could be skating over the fact that she was just inadvertently very rude when she called a real-life person "Grumpy" because of their height.
When Robert is helping Giselle get into his apartment (she was stuck at the door), watch how he helps her get in.
When Giselle attacks Dragon Narissa with Edward's sword while climbing the skyscraper, a gaping wound and blood on the side of the roof are fully visible.
Indecisive Deconstruction: The film is either this or a Decon-Recon Switch, depending on a): how self-aware you think it is of its tendency to reuse tropes it previously smashed into little pieces, and b): how convincing you think its reuse of those tropes really is.
Ink-Suit Actor: A very Justified example in the animated sequences, though to what extent it's effective varies: in animated form, Giselle doesn't particularly resemble Amy Adams. Nathaniel is such a spot-on caricature of Timothy Spall that you will know it's him before he even opens his mouth. Edward and Narissa are somewhere in between with their animated resemblances to James Marsden and Susan Sarandon, as do Nancy to Idina Menzel.
Giselle: Before we leave, there is something I would love to do. Edward: Well, name it my love and it is done! Giselle: I want to to go on a date. Edward: A date! [Beat] What's a date?
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: When Edward realizes Giselle's true love is Robert, he immediately starts pushing Robert to kiss Giselle in order to save her with no jealousy whatsoever. Robert is hesitant, but then Nancy also relinquishes her former love and tells him to.
Knight In Shining Armour: The movie begins with Prince Edward saving Giselle from a troll and they plan to get married the next day.
Pretty much the entire movie, but particularly the song "That's How You Know", where Robert, acting the part of the Straight Man, wonders how on earth everyone knows the words for a song he'd never heard.
A great deal of Queen Narissa's dialog consists of this.
Edward. James Marsden was clearly enjoying himself more than is street-legal, but that's part of the fun.
Susan Sarandon as Narissa is even more remorselessly hammy. Narissa is such a Large Ham that she continues after going One-Winged Angel, which is normally the point where most villains lose their ability to speak.
Love at First Note: Edward immediately sets off to find the owner of the beautiful voice he hears singing.
Love at First Sight: Intentionally parodied. Giselle falls out of a tree onto Edward's horse, and he immediately announces that they'll be married the next day. Her relationship with Robert progresses much more slowly.
"True love's kiss: the most powerful force in the world."
A subtle one was that the first song sung in the film contained the lyric "I've been dreaming of a true love's kiss." The last song sung by Carrie Underwood in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue contained the lyric "I've been dreaming of a true love's kiss." Also counts as a Book Ends.
Meet Cute: Lampshaded when Giselle falls onto Edward's horse running from a troll he was hunting.
"And in years to come we'll reminisce / How we came to love..."
Missing Mom: Morgan and Giselle share a bonding moment over neither having ever had a "shopping with Mom" experience. Bonus points in that Morgan's mom isn't dead, but actually left her family.
Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Nathaniel gradually realises that he's just a convenient tool to Narissa, and steps forward to help the heroes at the end.
Nathaniel: I've always treated her like a queen, but lately I'm starting to feel there's this whole other side to her, like I don't even know her anymore. Radio Therapist: I think you need to take her aside and find out how she really feels about you. Narissa: Hello, worthless. Miss me?
A bigger example: When the announcer says something about Robert having to help Giselle and Edward return to Andalasia "before time runs out", newcomers can easily assume that they will become trapped in New York after a certain number of days, especially since they show the clock striking twelve.
Non-Human Sidekick: Pip. Those other animals in Andalasia also qualify, but mainly it's him.
Not What It Looks Like: Giselle, dressed only in a towel, falls out of the bathroom onto Robert. Right when Robert's girlfriend walks in.
Only One Name: Nathaniel. Does he even have a last name? Apparently not, because even in the epilogue, when he writes his autobiography, only "Nathaniel" is printed on the cover as the author's name.
Basically, all the Andalasians have no last names.
Only Sane Man: Giselle starts singing "That's How You Know" in the middle of Central Park and Crowd Song breaks out around her. Defrosting Ice King Robert, the one being sung to, is the only one who wonders how that is even possible.
Robert: He knows the song too?! I've never heard this song before!
Opposites Attract: Giselle, the cheery optimist, and Robert, the sarcastic pessimist.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Nathaniel tries to use these to slip Giselle the first two poisoned apples.
The first time, he slips it while disguised as an apple cart vendor, selling the poisoned apple as a caramel apple on a stick. It doesn't work because Giselle throws it away, and it gets lodged in a biker's helmet - causing an epic Brick Joke: after "That's How You Know" is over, this biker is seen again sporting a bald patch on his scalp where the poison burned through his helmet and hair.
The second time, Nathaniel passes the apple off as a martini while disguised as a waiter.
Prophetic Names: Robert's last name is Philip (Sleeping Beauty's prince) and Nancy's is Tremaine (Cinderella's evil stepfamily). This last one is a subversion, though, as Nancy is actually quite nice and ends up a fairy-tale princess herself.
Pungeon Master: Like many Disney villains, Narissa engages in a bit of this once she has her big evil moment. "It's time to take our tale to new heights.... We're coming to the end of our story now. Are you at the edge of your seat, Giselle, just dying to know how it ends?"
Required Secondary Powers: Parodied on purpose. With just the sound of her voice, Giselle can control any animal and induce mass hypnosis in as large a group as she wishes. Why? Because Disney Princesses can just do that, and therefore so can Giselle, or she wouldn't be one. That's why. Likewise following classic Disney tropes, Pip is agile and intelligent, Nathaniel can disguise into any human bystander, Narissa has the power to transform into a creepy old lady and turn into a dragon, and Prince Edward... is a Large Ham.
Rhymes on a Dime: Edward does this when interpreting what Pip is trying to tell him.
Romantic False Lead: Nancy, Robert's fiancée who takes up Giselle's place and marries Prince Edward in the end. Edward counts here, too.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: As out-of-it as he is, Prince Edward is still pretty brave to dive through a Portal Pool to a strange land, fight a "metal monster" (read: an MTA city bus) with a sword, and search Manhattan to look for Giselle.
Satellite Love Interest: Prince Edward parodies it from the usual Disney Princess. However, it was averted in one scene where after his kiss didn't wake up Giselle, he realized he wasn't the one for her and immediately asked Robert to do it, showing he is open-minded. And after Giselle woke up, he was genuinely happy for the two of them.
Second Love: Robert for Giselle, with Edward being the first. Giselle is likely the third for Robert, being preceded by his wife and Nancy. Nancy for Edward. As for Edward to Nancy, it's unknown if she had past relationships prior to Robert.
The movie is full of them, particularly to Disney classic movies:
The book opening sequence is a shoutout to many Disney classics.
When Giselle is looking at the fish tank in Robert's office, a song from The Little Mermaid plays in the background. Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel, plays Robert's secretary.
While in the Italian restaurant, "La Bella Notte" from Lady and the Tramp plays; the restaurant itself is called after the song.
The scene where Nathaniel helps Edward to take his boots off is an obvious shout-out to Beauty and the Beast. Edward also watches a soap opera staring Paige O'Hara, who voiced Belle, while a mysterious sounding "Beauty and the Beast" motif plays.
Narissa herself is a big shoutout to many Disney villainesses, especially to Maleficent; green electricity-based powers, similar outfits and the fact that she turns into a dragon while bursting in flames.
Broadway veteran Harvey Evans, the yellow-jacketed old man from "That's How You Know" previously danced as a chimney sweep in Mary Poppins.
There's something eerily King Kong-esque about Narissa's death scene.
There's a pop-up tracker solely devoted to this on the Blu-Ray disc, of which there are over 100, some of which are so obscure that even most Disney diehards won't catch them without it. According to director Kevin Lima, the actual count is over 1,000.
Show Within a Show: The soap opera that appears on the TV in Edward's motel room, starring Paige O'Hara (Belle from Beauty and the Beast) no less. Even better, the background music of said soap opera takes cues from the song "Beauty and the Beast".
Take That: At the beginning of the movie, when the old hag, who's really Narissa in disguise, pushes Giselle into the well, she says that she sent her to a place "where there are no happily ever afters." It turns out to be modern-day New York in reality. Nice.
It's also played straight near the end of the movie, when, like a good Disney princess, she's hexed to sleep. She needs a TroperifficTrue Love's Kiss before midnight (of course) in order to wake up. Robert, of course, manages to rouse her in the nick of time with a True Love's Kiss.
Un Duet: To show that Gisele has changed as a person the prince ends up doing a solo reprise of the duet at the start of the film.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Zigzagged. Giselle's initial arrival in New York does get some odd looks (the fact that she causes a traffic accident certainly helps), and Edward's antics with the bus and Pip's appearance in the Bella Notte make the local news... but otherwise their presence (including Pip in another restaurant) doesn't garner a lot of notice. Also, Nathaniel manages to sneak into the latter restaurant's kitchen with only a chef's hat and strike up a conversation with a pot of soup without attracting too much unwanted attention.
Those people in the boats during "That's How You Know" who are ignorant of all the performers crossing the bridge above them.
The stable magical portal in Times Square attracts attention... the first time. By the time Nathaniel pops out of it, it's routine; they've fenced it off with traffic cones and the bystanders just want to know who he's looking for.
Villains Blend in Better: Nathaniel seems to have much less trouble navigating New York than Giselle does, showing up in a variety of guises and apparent jobs. (Possibly he has a fairytale-villain-instant-disguise trait that carries over the way Giselle's fairytale-heroine-magic-singing trait does.)
Visual Pun: Giselle falling to Robert in the beginning, and vice-versa at the ending.
"Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: It shows that Edward and Nancy got married in Andalasia. Giselle opens up a new fashion/boutique business, staying with Robert. After staying in New York, Nathaniel becomes a successful author, as well as Pip back in Andalasia.
Widescreen Shot: When the viewers first enter Andalasia, black bars appear on the left and right sides to make the picture appear as narrow as the movies Disney released during The Renaissance Age of Animation. The picture expands and fills the bars when Giselle crosses through into the live-action world. They never change back after the first transition, even when animated scenes occur.