Revisiting a beloved family movie years later with another sequel is always a risk. You’ll either end up striking gold like with Toy Story 3 or end up in an abyss of ‘meh’ like, well, Toy Story 4.
As a fan of fairytale subversions and the odd musical number, I really wanted to like Disenchanted, especially given that Enchanted was so damn good. It had an original storyline, well-rounded characters, and perfectly showcased Disney’s ability to make fun of themselves while still leaving a little room for schmaltziness. Unfortunately, in the case of Disenchanted, lightning failed to strike twice.
Disenchanted continues the story of Giselle, Robert, and a now-teenage Morgan (as well as a baby who disappears periodically throughout the movie) after, as the film implies, Giselle becomes disillusioned with her life in New York. After saying goodbye to her favourite squad of big city pigeons and rats (which was amusing admittedly), the family packs up to move to the idyllic suburbia of Monroeville, which promises that life will be “just like a fairytale.”
Unsurprisingly, this is far from the case, with a range of mishaps leading to Kevin the Teenager impersonator Morgan lashing out at Giselle. Luckily, King Edward (played brilliantly by the criminally underused James Marsden) and Queen Nancy (Idina Menzel) pop over from Andalasia and, as one of the few characters that remember Giselle’s baby exists, provide the tot with a plot-convenient magic wand that Giselle subsequently uses to wish that life could be a fairytale.
Shock horror, this wish goes haywire, as Monroeville then proceeds to go under some Westview-like curse where they start singing and acting like fairytale characters. In an interesting plot twist, despite Malvina Monroe being set up as the movie villain of this story, and Maya Rudolph certainly having the attitude for it, it’s Gisselle who ends up becoming the baddie as the curse ends up making her split into your standard wicked stepmother.
Although the predictability of this is a bit eye-rolling, its fun to see Amy Adams bring a new dimension to Giselle, as her bright-eyed fish-out-of-water persona isn’t as endearing as it was a decade ago — and to her credit, Adams does a great job as a villain and clearly relishes in this new side to her character.
It also paves way for the best and by far the most memorable musical number in the film, as Giselle and Malvina battle to be the most formidable matriarch in ‘Badder.’ Apart from that, however, not a long of the other songs really stand out, and Malvina’s motivations as a villain both under the curse and outside of it are largely unclear.
I understand that Giselle is meant to be the main character, but so much focus is put on her and Morgan that the rest of the cast feels a bit half-baked and unfinished. Patrick Dempsey as Robert sings at one point, which is fun, but for the majority of the Disney movie he is quite literally out there doing side quests, with zero development and embarrassingly poor CGI.
Given he was such a pivotal character in the first film, seeing him downgraded to an NPC was disappointing, especially given that, despite Gabriella Baldacchino’s lovely singing voice and best efforts, Morgan remains a little bland.
Speaking of two-dimensional, there are portions of the film which take place in Andalasia with 2D animation, and as well as making you feel nostalgic for Disney’s golden age, the sequences are visually pleasing enough to make you remember that the House of Mouse has still got it when it comes to making traditional cartoons.
The setting of a fairytale-fied Monroeville/Monrolasia are pretty, too, and Idina Menzel finally gets her ballad moment with a pretty light sequence, but the problem is that this particular song and its visuals amount to almost a shot-by-shot copy of Pocahontas classic, ‘Colours of the Wind.’
Yet, as cynical as I am and as predictable as some parts of the film are, it’s a perfectly fine and oftentimes fun musical. If you’re a fan of the original 2000s movie Enchanted, you’ll be happy to return to the world, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking.
Although it lacks the charm and freshness of the original, it’s a fun and visually pleasing film.