Disenchanted (2022)
Disenchanted (2022)

Genre: Fairy Tale and Musical Running Time: 1 hr. 59 min.

Release Date: November 18th, 2022 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Adam Shankman Actors: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, Maya Rudolph, Gabriella Baldacchino, James Marsden, Idina Menzel, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jayma Mays, Kolton Stewart, Oscar Nunez

 


 

I

n the magical realm of Andalasia, young Giselle grew up to win the love of the kingdom’s bravest prince, but was banished by an evil witch to New York City, where she met a different sort of suitor. “What if I told ya that ‘ever after’ wasn’t the end of their story?” Life in the kingdom of New York turns out not to be the fairy tale Giselle (Amy Adams) and Robert (Patrick Dempsey) imagined, especially when they have two children, their apartment seems to get a lot smaller, and they just don’t have time for storybook romance anymore. Of particular difficulty is their teenage daughter Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino), who is a very stereotypical, angsty, pouty, sarcastic person. “She sometimes says one thing, and means the opposite.”

In an attempt to rejuvenate their bright and colorful former adventures, the family moves to the suburbs of Monroeville, where Morgan does her best to be dour, while Giselle doesn’t miss an opportunity to burst into song and dance. Although the move is complicated for all of them (from the monotony of a lengthy train commute to a new preparatory school to wearisome household routines), the pink, castle-like house has potential – and the royalty of Andalasia, King Edward (James Marsden) and Queen Nancy (Idina Menzel), build a portal to their backyard to keep up visits. And they even bring baby Sofia a wishing wand, which is sure to cause problems (and it comes with a talking scroll that explains how wishing works – but only after plenty of mistakes are made, and only when a plot twist requires such an explanation).

With a very brief recap, the story picks up quickly, establishing the odd mixture of fantasy-land denizens and cold-hard-reality big-city people, both of which take the other for granted, unconcerned with the inexplicable nature of their simultaneous existences. In a curious way, it’s almost like the un-reality of the Marvel universe, in which modern settings must do their best to mostly ignore the fact that space aliens and all-powerful gods conduct all sorts of mayhem that only once in a while interfere with daily goings-on. At least the focus is more specific here, using contemporary environments to recreate recognizable fairy-tale scenarios, creatively shifting Giselle’s role into that of the wicked stepmother, as Monroeville is transformed into a live-action Andalasia counterpart, complete with a trio of competing antagonists: Malvina (Maya Rudolph) and her bumbling minions Rosaleen (Yvette Nicole Brown) and Ruby (Jayma Mays).

Although the songs aren’t particularly show-stopping this time around (save for a villainess duet and an unnecessary but no-brainer extra tune for the accomplished Menzel), the vividly-costumed dance sequences are energetic and fun. And the parallels to “Cinderella” as opposed to “Sleeping Beauty” (as well as notes of “Beauty and the Beast”) set the stage for amusing new variations and contrasts on well-known storylines (“It’s pretty on-the-nose, but it’s a classic”). Yet many of the same problems from before return, including sidekick comic-relief characters that struggle to provide effective humor, and a main baddie who is too silly and overblown to be sincere. Fittingly, however, this sequel also manages to switch back and forth between the actors and traditional animation, occasionally relying on greater amounts of computer graphics but nicely integrating both styles into the premise.

Sadly, the cleverness of the original setup is no longer as beguiling or unique (the extreme clash of New York isn’t pertinent anymore), forcing the picture to dwell on the repetition of magic-infused quarreling and combat, and to bank on an overly easy resolution conjured not from felicitous rules but from the convenience and need to wrap things up neatly. The characters may still be amusing, even after 15 years, but the script can’t justify coming back to the land of “Enchanted” for another feature-length outing (quite a bit like “Hocus Pocus 2,” also from this year). “What’s happening!”

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10