A fairy tale for a woman should have, along with the damsel in the distress and the prince charming, a lot of other elements.
However, let’s start with the obvious.
1. The damsel in distress.
The damsel is either blind to her distress or has accepted it in a very cynical manner.
Jane, played by Katherine Heigl, in “27 Dresses“, devoted her personal life to her friends, thereby becoming everyone’s go-to girl and a bridesmaid at their weddings. She was the woman behind every girl’s fantasy wedding, except her own.
This lady’s distress was the fact that she had been so long absorbed in hers that she was afraid to get out. Jennifer Lopez played Marisa Ventura, in “Maid in Manhattan“, who did not want to change her life as a maid in a fancy hotel, because she was used to it.
Her distress is that she’s enchanted. Her distress is that she isn’t grown up enough to realize that the prince that she’s waiting for is not going to be the ideal prince for her, because he, too, is enchanted, and we all know, opposites attract.
Now, this lady is stuck in an idyllic Scottish palace, with a duke, who kills deer (she is vegetarian), plays the bagpipes (she hates bagpipes) and is the complete opposite of her best friend (whom her sub-conscious mind is in love with).
The damsel always seeks the prince, but in a grown-up fairy tale, the prince is too perfect to be with her.
2. The apparent Prince Charming
This guy is a prince. He is charming. He is too charming, though. And so, the princess does not end up with him.
He’s a duke! He’s from Scotland! He won the lady over in the Scottish ritual games! He’s way too perfect to end up with her.
He’s Katherine Heigl’s boss in “27 Dresses”. He is classy and cultured. Nothing about his vibe hints at dramatic. He is at a higher platform than Jane. Jane likes him for his power and responsibility, among other things. No can do. He is faultless.
To be with the damsel, the ideal prince charming should have little cracks in his personality too, little imperfections that allows him to be the leading man in a drama.
3. The actual Prince Charming
He is a big, big flirt. He does not express his love for the damsel. As the story rolls on, we get to see hints. There is a moment when he softens up. He is not only Prince Charming to the leading lady, but also the million ladies watching him on screen. He allows them to decipher his imperfection.
What is James Marsden’s imperfection in “27 Dresses”? He appears to be macho, saying that he wrote the wedding articles with no emotion whatsoever. He annoys and nags the damsel. He probes her buried feelings, which is no country for men in general.
And he writes wedding articles. Wedding articles! He is a womanizer!
He is arrogant and the biggest womanizer in the film. Hello, imperfection!
Patrick Dempsey again. In “Enchanted“, people usually run into a wall when trying to probe his emotions. He is damaged from his past with his wife. He doesn’t believe in happy endings. Imperfection? Obviously.
Then, there are the obstacles that come in the way of the damsel and the actual Prince. In most tales, it is the apparent Prince, but in others, it might be the damsel’s best friend. And that brings me to the next element.
4. The Best Friend – The Secondary Damsel
They are usually supportive of the damsel and the damsel’s confidante. They provide bits of advice to the damsel, which helps her emerge from the slump, that is when the story starts to get serious instead of playful, and the damsel and the actual Prince are unhappy. The secondary damsel keeps her distresses to herself, displaying them only briefly, keeping in mind that, like her character, her distresses are secondary as well.
And, of course, it is never a fairy tale without the happy ending.
5. The Happy Ending
There is not much to say about the happy ending. It is the portion that lingers with the audience and what makes them truly happy and content.