Disenchanted: In “Disenchanted,” we are presented with the existential dilemma, “What happens after ‘Happily Ever After?'” The answer, of course, is a sequel, but one that is available only (15 years later) via digital download. In an epilogue to “Enchanted” which has moments of magic without fully delivering on the notion, Amy Adams deftly steps back into the character of an animated princess struggling to adapt to the live-action world.
Adams’s character, Princess Giselle, had a baby with her surprise prince, single dad Robert (Patrick Dempsey), and they lived happily ever after, as one might expect from a fairy tale. Unfortunately, after years of living in Andalasia, she found the mundane routine of married life to be a rude awakening, prompting her to look for ways to spice things up.
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A situation like that on HBO or Hulu might have a harsher, harder edge, but as this is Disney+, Giselle jumps at the chance to uproot her family and start a new life in the suburbs, namely in a place called Monroeville which seems nice on paper. Morgan, Giselle’s teenage stepdaughter (Gabriella Baldacchino), feels uprooted and resentful since she is being compelled to leave “the kingdom of New York” behind as a result of the decision, while Robert is left with a terrible commute.
Giselle is frustrated by the fighting at home and resorts to a magical fix, which puts her squarely in the “Be careful what you wish for” category. The most brilliant part of this plot twist backfires because Giselle is a stepmother, a family member who has rarely been portrayed favorably in animated fairy tales.
DISENCHANTED. Whew boy, Amy Adams did not need to make this sequel. https://t.co/fveyumJrSB
— Amy Nicholson (@TheAmyNicholson) November 18, 2022
The repeated references to urban flora and fauna in the song diminish the initial spark that fueled “Enchanted”. All the singers sound great, too, especially Idina Menzel, who has a brief cameo to lend her Broadway belt to the song that will undoubtedly be the movie’s most enormous commercial success.
The music is lively but not as memorable as the original, despite the fact that composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz were nominated for an Oscar for their work on it. The supporting ensemble, including James Marsden as the bumbling prince and Maya Rudolph as the suburban queen bee who gets an upbeat duet with Adams, feels both underutilized and overutilized.
#Disenchanted serves as a reminder to “be careful what you wish for”—on many different levels. Its lack of legitimate wit, cleverness, and focus makes a promising concept feel like a wasted wish. Even Amy Adams struggles. My review via @TheAVClub: https://t.co/8fdDKlPHTP
— Courtney Howard (@Lulamaybelle) November 18, 2022
The film is directed by Adam Shankman (who also directed the musical “Hairspray” the same year “Enchanted” was released), and it again deftly manipulates fairy-tale traditions without showing any development, either in Giselle or the other characters, over the course of those years. Even when there was potential for interesting new developments in the mythology, “Disenchanted” retreads old ground instead.
Disney+ has found success with a programming model based on the nostalgic appeal of remaking classic films and TV shows like “The Santa Clause,” “Hocus Pocus,” and the upcoming “Willow.” Giselle moans, “I never sing the proper song anymore” just before the plot really gets going. That’s far too negative a take on “Disenchanted,” but it’s true that it doesn’t quite live up to the standards set by its critically acclaimed predecessor.
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