Disenchanted – Film Review

Director: Adam Shankman

Writer: Brigette Hales

Starring: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, Maya Rudolph, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jayma Mays, Gabriella Baldacchino, Idina Menzel, and James Marsden

Rating: ★★★

Fifteen years after the excellent Enchanted, Giselle (Amy Adams) is back. Her story didn’t end with her happily ever after, since in the real world stories continue once people get married. Like the first one the film takes the tropes of fairy tales and tries to do something new with it, however the second time around there’s a lot less charm and originality.

In the years since Giselle and Robert (Patrick Dempsey) have gotten married, Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino) has reached her teenage years and the couple have had a second child. Feeling that life has become tiring and their happy ever after isn’t quite as ever after as she’d like, Giselle moves the family to a small town, hoping to capture some of the magic of her own kingdom. When that backfires, Giselle makes a wish that turns their new home into a fairy tale, but as everyone knows magic always comes at a price.

Disenchanted starts with a short recap of the first film and the years in-between, just in case you haven’t seen the original (although if you haven’t you should really just watch that one, it’s a fantastic modern Disney classic), before jumping into the new story. Since Morgan is now a teenager, she’s rebelling against her parents and the things she liked when she was younger, which causes most of the conflict in the first act, especially when she calls Giselle her step-mom out of anger.

After the wish is completed, the world turns completely upside down, with everything feeling like something ripped straight out of an animated Disney classic. Everything seems to be perfect for the family, that is until it turns out that the dark side of fairy tales has become part of their reality as well, and Giselle starts to take the role of Morgan’s stepmother, treating her as a servant instead of a daughter.  

The best thing about Disenchanted is watching Giselle turn into the wicked stepmother. It happens slowly at first, and you’re not really sure what’s happening as she gets more confident and snarkier to the other characters, and then it all clicks. It’s also really subtle at first, which is great. It’s a really great transformation and the funniest thing about the film. Amy Adams does a great job turning evil. Patrick Dempsey also turning into a foolish hero looking for anyway to prove his worth is funny, but it’s a shame there isn’t more time spent with both Adams and Dempsey together on screen. 

Like a lot of straight-to-video Disney sequels from the mid-nineties onwards, this film just feels a bit soulless. It’s entertaining while it’s on, but unlike the first film it’s completely forgettable. There isn’t any standout moments or jokes. The musical numbers are all fine, but there isn’t one that’s great like ‘That’s how you know’ in the first film. The new characters are just architypes and not much more, even with good performances from Maya Rudolph, Yvette Nicole Brown and Jayma Mays. It’s all completely fine, and that’s it. 

Disenchanted is enjoyable, but it’s a sequel that doesn’t feel essential, which is a shame because there’s some good ideas there. As good as it is to see Amy Adams turn into the wicked stepmother Disenchanted is just not enchanting enough to become a great sequel.

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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