Disney’s sequel to 2007’s Enchanted fails to achieve the same level of charm as its predecessor.
Set ten years after the original Enchanted film (yet, released fifteen years later), Disenchanted follows the story of ex-princess Giselle (Amy Adams), her husband, Robert (Patrick Dempsey), and teenage stepdaughter, Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino) as they navigate a world far more complicated than fairy tales: the suburbs.
After Giselle begins to realize that New York City is no longer serving her growing family well, she convinces everyone to relocate to the suburban town of Monroeville. When tensions rise between her and Morgan, who resents her stepmother for making her move out of the city, Giselle uses a magic wand to create a return to a fairytale life. One where Morgan is a fair tempered maiden and Robert is a daring prince. However, as Giselle realizes that this wish is forcing her into the role of “evil stepmother” whether she likes it or not, she must race to reverse the wish and return to her normal life.
Fans of the original film may find this sequel disappointing, as it fails to keep much of the charm of the original. Despite the fact that the score is written by musical theater and Disney legends Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz (who also wrote the score for the 2007 film), the songs in this film are forgettable, and are a far cry from the show-stopping numbers of the original (which managed to score three Best Original Song nominations at the 2008 Academy Awards). The visual aspects of this film are lackluster, which is particularly disappointing given that the film is primarily set in a fairy tale land, as Monroeville becomes “Monrolasia” when Giselle makes her wish.
While the original film was primarily set in New York City, it still managed to maintain a level of fantasticalness. We’re introduced to Giselle while she wears a ballgown so large she can’t fit through doors. She makes a new dress out of curtains. She twirls around in a glistening gown at a literal ball. Here, she’s asking to become part of the PTO in a dress that looks like it came from Marshall’s. Is the idea to suggest that she’s fully adapted into the “normal” world? Perhaps, but in doing so, the movie loses any sense of what worked for Enchanted.
There’s a level of self-awareness to the original film that made it resonate well with audiences. Serving almost as a parody of Disney princess films, the film was saturated with knocks on classic fairy tale and Disney tropes that simultaneously provided some good tongue-in-cheek humor, while still moving the plot forward. However, Disenchanted isn’t trying to match that similar sense of humor. It’s not trying to be a parody of a fairy tale film, it’s trying to be a fairy tale film, and it is not succeeding. It is not willing to commit to the over the top nature of the fantasy, but it still wants to hold on to the more negative tropes. It feels a bit wrong to suggest that if Giselle really wants to live in a fairytale, she has no choice in becoming an “evil” stepmother, an idea that is just as antiquated as most other fairy tale tropes.
This is not to say that there are not a few bright spots in the film. Despite the fact that Giselle is given no substantive character development in this sequel, it is nice to see Amy Adams return to the character, as she is trying her best throughout this film. James Marsden is always a welcome presence on screen, and despite being unfortunately underused in this film, it’s safe to consider his Prince Edward a career highlight. While the songs in this film are not nearly as cohesive as they are in the first film, Idina Menzel sings them beautifully. Maya Rudolph also gives a fun performance as Malvina Monroe, the story’s main villain. Theater fans will also be happy to see fun cameos from Ann Harada and James Monroe Iglehart.
While Disenchanted pales in comparison to its predecessor, it provides a fun opportunity to revisit with familiar characters. For that reason, fans of Enchanted may find it to be worth a watch. However, its general lackluster appeal and forgettable songs are likely to keep it from ever reaching the classic status of the first film.
Should Be Considered: None
Where To Watch: Disney+
Lives in NC, where she is on a first name basis with the owners of her favorite pho spot.
Favorite Actress: Angela Bassett