The sequel to 2007’s Enchanted has been a long way for fans of the meta fairytale, but the wait has not been worth it. We again meet Giselle (Amy Adams), who, in the first film, was expelled from the fairytale land of Andalasia and sent to New York City.
Now married to Robert (Patrick Dempsey), her Prince Charming from the first movie, Giselle has learnt that happy ever afters aren’t quite what they should be. It turns out that life keeps happening after the princess gets her happy ever after, but modern life won’t dampen her spirit.
Handling motherhood and step-motherhood to the now teenage Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino), the not-quite-so-happy couple decides to move to the suburbs to recapture the magic of her homeland of Andalasia. Suburbia is not any better, with a half-built home, a new group of judgemental moms and a teenage daughter who never wanted to leave the big city.
After she is gifted a magic wishing wand by King Edward (a criminally underused James Marsden) and Nancy Tremaine (Idina Menzel), Giselle decides to bring a little of her fairytale joy to her new home of Monroeville. Unfortunately, Giselle gets more than she bargains for after accidentally transforming the entire town into a real-life Andalasia, dragons and all.
The set-up is fabulous, Giselle floating downstairs to a singing coffee machine and talking smoothie maker. The blend of Disney kitsch and 21st-century level is one of the only good aspects of this lacklustre tale. Sadly, Disenchanted can’t capture the magic of the original. While it is bold not to copy the blueprint of the original plot, the end result for this much-awaited sequel is bland and entirely forgettable, wasting the talented cast.
Joining the original cast members are Maya Rudolph, as Monroeville’s queen bee Malvina Monroe, Yvette Nicole Brown and Jayma Mays as her hapless sidekicks, Oscar Nunez as a local barista, and Kolton Stewart as Malvina’s son Tyson. Very few actresses seem a better fit to play a campy evil queen as Maya Rudolph, yet the Bridesmaid actress is never allowed to really get her teeth into this character. Her scenes with Adams are still the highlight of this bloated Adam Shankman-directed film, even if you feel these talented two actresses could have had real fun with the roles.
The songs, written by the legendary Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, lack the catchiness of the 2007 original. While the first film was filled with smart wink-wink-nudge-nudge pastiches of classic Disney tracks, Disenchanted offers a range of cheap knock-offs that have none of the magic. While there are certainly more songs, the writers have chosen quantity over quality. It’s unlikely that you will walk away remembering any of the songs in this musical, which at times, is reminiscent of Apple TV’s Schmigadoon!
The cast has a lot of fun in their larger-than-life roles, even if their enthusiasm is wasted on a bland script. Amy Adams delivered a layered performance this film is not worthy of, almost playing two completely different characters as a woman internally struggling to do the right thing. Idina Menzel and Maya Rudolph are entirely wasted in their respective roles, and James Marsden, the highlight of the first film, gets almost no screen time as the dim but likeable prince Edward.
Patrick Dempsey especially relishes the role of Robert, who gets a fairytale makeover. His insistence on slaying dragons and being a hero border on Monty Python levels of parody. Disenchanted may have been a better film if it had gone in the Holy Grail direction. This doesn’t feel like a pastiche or an homage to Disney classics; it feels like a weak imitation of the films you loved as a kid.
A good film is buried in this concept, yet the final result is incredibly stale and boring. The writer, Brigitte Hales (a story editor on the TV series Once Upon a Time), has managed to lose all the magic of the 2007 film. Some moments are genuinely amusing in Disenchanted, but there are more moments which are entirely cringe-worthy. This much-anticipated sequel has sadly forgotten everything you loved about Enchanted.
Disenchanted is no streaming on Disney+
by Amelia Harvey
Amelia is a freelance writer, frustrated novelist and occasional wrangling of international students. She is especially interested in LBGTQ culture and 1960s and 70s music. She also writes for Frame Rated, The People’s Movies and Unkempt Magazine, amongst others. Her favourite films include Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Moulin Rouge and Closer. You can find her on Twitter @MissAmeliaNancy and letterboxd @amelianancy