In 2007, Disney’s unconventional fish-out-of-water fairytale film Enchanted soared its way into the hearts of fans with catchy songs, energetic performances, and an upheaval of overdone Disney tropes. Now, 15 years later, the original cast including Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, and Idina Menzel have reunited for Disenchanted, the highly-anticipated sequel which premiered on Disney+ on November 18.
The film picks up a few years where its predecessor left off with Giselle (Adams) and Robert (Dempsey) growing tired of the bustling streets of New York City and deciding to take on the suburbs much to the dismay of Robert’s now teenage daughter Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino). In the tight-knit town of Monroeville, they meet town queen bee Malvina Monroe (Maya Rudolph) who senses trouble as soon as the picture-esc couple moves to town.
After a visit from familiar faces hailing from the animated fairytale world of Andalasia, Giselle realizes that her “happily ever after” isn’t what she wished for and with a little magic, things take a wicked turn. While this film features far more literal magic than the first, Disenchanted feels dull and lifeless compared to the original film aside from the stunning ballgowns and intricately crafted fantastical sets.
One of the biggest qualitative differences between the films lies in the music. Enchanted may not be a Disney classic on the same level as The Lion King or The Little Mermaid but many hardcore Disney fans view it as a staple of early 2000s Disney flicks featuring iconic songs “True Love’s Kiss” and “That’s How You Know”. Disenchanted doesn’t feature one memorable song despite the involvement of renowned composers Alan Menken and Stephen Swartz.
The song “Badder” features a fun, villainous dynamic between the incredibly talented Amy Adams and Maya Rudolph but even that song loses its focus in the midst of choppy editing and overpowering instrumental. A lot of the lyrics of the songs are almost inaudible due to the disproportionate instrumental. Even vocal powerhouse Idina Menzel’s voice felt drowned out, a result most likely of a shoddy audio composition.
Despite the original cast returning, the charm and intrigue of their specific characters don’t match up with the energy of the first film. Most notably Dempsey’s character Robert feels completely detached from himself and is left offscreen for most of the film. The one standout is James Marsden’s Prince Edward whose over-the-top take on the handsome heroic prince archetype is sure to bring a smile to any audience member’s face.
While Giselle was the main character of the first movie and still has the most screen time in this film, her stepdaughter Morgan, now played by Gabriella Baldacchino instead of Rachel Covey, plays a pretty big role as this film parodies many Cinderella tropes to reinforce the stepmother/stepdaughter dynamic between Morgan and Giselle and differentiating itself from the first film which followed the story of Snow White more closely.
This overarching theme could’ve offered a heartwarming story much like the first film about true love and seeing the magic in everyday life but instead, this message gets lost aside a variety of uninteresting b-plots and long-stretching scenes that don’t correlate to the core meanings at all. By the time the end of the film rolls around and the more picture perfect happily ever after is achieved, audiences are left underwhelmed and wanting more than the story gave them.
This begs the question, how does a company like Disney produce such mediocre or even downright awful projects? Many fans have expressed distaste towards the live-action remakes and similar issues that can be seen in Disenchanted such as unrealistic special effects, lazy or convoluted writing, and pacing that at times is impossible to follow.
Though Disenchanted isn’t a live-action remake it still feels like one at times which is disappointing considering the status of the first film and the fact that many have been waiting for an Enchanted sequel for over a decade.
Disenchanted may not have been what fans were hoping for but there’s still room for enjoyment in the lavish costumes, including some that you’ll recognize from Disney classics and the beautifully crafted sets which will make viewers feel like they themselves have been transported to Andalasia.