REVIEW: ‘Disenchanted’

While no ‘Enchanted,’ ‘Disenchanted’ is still enchanting in its own right.

Disney’s Enchanted, which saw Amy Adams star as the out of place princess, Giselle, was a huge hit for the studio when it was first released. The movie managed to move swiftly between animation and live action to tell its fairy tale, whether it be through dialogue or song. It was a special movie, one filled with magic and heart, that seemed to resonate with audiences given its $340 million box office haul. So, it’s not entirely surprising then that the studio gave the film a sequel – albeit fifteen years later. And while it’s a fun follow-up, Disenchanted often lacks the spark that made Enchanted so wonderful.

Disenchanted, like Enchanted, sees Adams’ Giselle longing for her life in Andalasia. She misses the magic and the charm of her home, but also wants to remain with the family she’s created with Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino). She’s become the mother she always wanted to be to both Morgan and Sofia, the child she had with Patrick. But as she feels Morgan, who is now a teenager, start to pull away, Giselle becomes desperate to reclaim some of the magic the two shared. And so, a wish is made that she hopes will fix her relationship with Morgan and her wish to feel more at home. Unfortunately, though, Giselle’s wish might just cost her everything in the process – including herself.

The movie as a whole is delightful. It’s fun, and it does a pretty great job at taking the evil stepmother trope from fairy tales and using it to its advantage. There are moments the story is predictable, sure, but for the most part, it’s a solid story about love and family. The main problem Disenchanted faces is that it simply can’t recapture the true magic of Enchanted. The blending of animation, live-action and music in Enchanted was one of its greatest strengths; it might’ve taken the audience a bit to get a feel for the film, but once they did, they were easily hooked. The acting was superb. The writing was fun. And the music, the music was one of the film’s biggest selling points. The same cannot be said for Disenchanted. The songs are nowhere near as memorable as True Love’s Kiss”, “That’s How You Knowor even “Happy Working Song.” This, of course, is not because the cast lacks the talent to deliver the songs properly. (As previously noted, the songs were written expertly for the actors and their strengths.) The cast absolutely nails the vocals – especially Idina Menzel – it’s just that the music is easy to forget. It doesn’t leave a lasting impression. And some of the songs simply seem to go on far too long.

Thankfully, though, the music is admittedly the only big problem Disenchanted suffers from. Adams, as always, is fantastic as Giselle; the character is given a bigger storyline in this film, one that allows her to both grow and fail, and Adams fully commits to the role. In her scenes alongside Maya Rudolph, a great actress in her own right, Adams still manages to steal the show. It’s fascinating watching her switch between both charming and menacing, and she does it with such ease. And the supporting cast – Dempsey, Baldacchino, Menzel, and James Marsden – are all great, too, with each being far more to do this time around. Dempsey and Menzel, two characters that while good in the first film, finally feel like they’ve had time to truly develop their characters – Menzel, especially. Two actresses that are sadly wasted in their roles, though, are Yvette Nicole Brown as Rosaleen and Jayma Mays as Ruby who serve as sidekicks to Rudolph’s villainous character. While the film was trying to retain the usual stereotypes found in fairytales, both Rosaleen and Ruby felt like characters that lacked any substance. They were merely minions that, outside of a single key scene, really seemed to lack purpose which is unfortunate as both actresses are incredibly talented.

Even with its flaws, though, Disenchanted manages to be enchanting. It’s not a perfect film by any means, and it’ll never be as good as the first film, but it’s still an enjoyable time. The music is forgettable, and the plot is rather predictable, but Disenchanted still has a special sort of charm to it. One can only hope Adams gets to return as Giselle at least one more time to craft the perfect fairytale ending once and for all.

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