I find it hard to believe it’s been 15 WHOLE years since Disney gave us the delightful original fairytale Enchanted. Now, another adventure awaits for the same characters in Disenchanted, and the story could stand to be a little more magical.
Enchanted followed Giselle (Amy Adams) from the animated kingdom of Andalasia when the evil stepmother of the prince she’s about to marry sends her to our world. She meets lawyer Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and his daughter Morgan. They try to help her get home while Prince Edward (James Marsden) searches for her. Giselle and Robert eventually realize that true love can be unexpected, but it cannot be denied. And it can be a powerful tool against evil.
This film gives audiences another part of their journey. Giselle, Robert, and Morgan may be older, but they still have problems to face. And they still have things to learn from solving those problems. Disenchanted has a lot of heart and fun to offer — though it doesn’t quite cast the spell of the original.
“Who knew that being a villain could feel so liberating?”
Now that Morgan is a teenager and Giselle and Robert have their own baby, they’ve decided to move out of New York City. They choose the small town of Monroeville, which looks like something out of a storybook. Everything seems to go wrong for them in this new place. Morgan hates the change in a typical teenager kind of way, and nothing Giselle does to help seems to work. It gets so bad that Giselle makes a wish for a fairytale life so things will be better.
Do I even need to tell you that this wish doesn’t turn out like she expects it to? The haughty queen bee of the town, Malvina Monroe (Maya Rudolph), becomes an actual evil queen. Robert goes off on misguided knightly quests. Worst of all, Giselle finds herself transforming into a wicked stepmother. If someone doesn’t do something by the stroke of midnight, the wish will become permanent.
To top that off, our world isn’t the only one in danger. Giselle used an Andalasian wishing wand to make her wish. It was a gift from Edward and his wife Nancy (Idina Menzel). That means that the magic to make Giselle’s wish come true comes from Andalasia, and it’s so powerful that nothing of the animated realm will be left. It’s being destroyed.
“And I couldn’t wish for anything more.”
If all that sounds quite different from the original Enchanted, well, it is. And not in a positive way. The first film truly had the feeling of an updated fairytale, with effective romance at its center. Obviously, damaging Giselle and Robert’s relationship was not an option, so this film had to be a different type of story. I just wish more moments felt as charming as the original. The script here provides flashes of that, and of genuine emotion too, such as in the climactic moment when all our favorite Andalasians are in the most danger. But it’s just not the same clever pastiche of the first film.
What is the same is the success of the cast and performances. Particularly Amy Adams. The six-time Oscar nominee proved the perfect choice for Giselle’s combination of innocence and growth back in 2007, and she is clearly having a ball being a little bad. She’s got the singing down, too. This time, experienced singer Menzel gets to contribute that talent, as well. She performs “Love Power,” and it’s really the only song here that comes close to capturing the brilliance of the songs in the first film.
I mean, the dueling villain duet between Adams and Rudolph is quite fun, but Enchanted had “So Close,” “That’s How You Know” and even “True Love’s Kiss.” That’s a lot to live up to.
Fortunately, Adams does, and the rest of the cast is there to back her up. Dempsey and Adams have not lost their chemistry, and Marsden’s classic himbo Edward is always a good source of humor. Yvette Nicole Brown and Jayma Mays as Malvina’s two flunkies are appealing performers, too. This cast is the reason the strengths of the script stand out as much as they do. They make Disenchanted mostly worth the wait.
3 1/2 stars out of 5
Disenchanted is now streaming on Disney Plus.