Director: Adam Shankman
Writer: Screenplay by Brigitte Hales; Story by David N. Weiss, J. David Stem, and Richard LaGravenese
Cast: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Idina Menzel, Maya Rudolph, Gabriella Baldacchino, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jayma Mays, Kolton Stewart, Oscar Nunez, and Griffin Newman.
Running Time: 121 minutes
If you thought that the original Enchanted (2007) had no more stories to tell — you'd be dead wrong. The original film saw a literal fairytale princess (she's first presented in the animated world) Giselle (Amy Adams) being thrust into the live-action world of New York City as part of her wicked stepmother's plot to get rid of her. It was a cute and clever film that poked fun at standard Disney fairytale tropes, while also being surprisingly heartwarming. And as expected, it ended happily ever after.
So what exactly does the sequel, Disenchanted, bring? Quite a lot, actually. While most sequels tend to undo the character development of major protagonists (or create even more ludicrous conflicts so the film has a raison d'etre), Disenchanted manages to let the characters retain their character development — while still giving them room to grow organically.
Set fifteen years after the original (just like how Disenchanted will premiere fifteen years after Enchanted), it sees Giselle and her beau Robert (Patrick Dempsey) moving to the suburbs of Monroeville. Robert's daughter (and Giselle's stepdaughter) Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino) comes along, even as we see that Giselle now has an infant with Robert. They meet the queen bee Malvina (Maya Rudolph) and her flunkies Rosaleen (Yvette Nicole Brown) and Ruby (Jayma Mays), even as a surprising new villain arises in this musical romantic comedy.
Amy Adams is given a whole lot more range in this film, and it's quite a delight to watch. Admittedly, her turn as the eternally optimistic Giselle really grated at the beginning of the film, but this just served as a balance for her character development in the movie. Her character arc is, in part, due to a plot device — but as a film that gently lampshades fairytale tropes, would it not make sense for magical plot devices to abound?
The counterpoint to Amy Adams' Giselle is her grumpy daughter Morgan... who is referred to as a teenager? The numbers don't quite add up (she's six in the first and fifteen years have passed), but it's sort of handwaved away. What doesn't make sense is how old Gabriella Baldacchino looks. She definitely can't pass for a teenager, and looks uncomfortable close to Amy Adams' age. In a film franchise that's known for its stellar casting, Baldacchino was severely miscast.
That aside, the best part of the film comes a little too late. It's absolutely amazing to see several tropes turned on their head (and some others played to a T), and you can feel the creators relishing in the camp and bombast of Act Three. The best musical numbers also come from the last third of the film, with the best song and dance going to Amy Adams and Maya Rudolph. My only wish was that this part lasted longer — I'd definitely have loved to see more of this intriguing situation unfold.
It's also in the third Act that Maya Rudolph shines. Her performances are best only when she has someone to play off of, as she isn't quite as imposing or interesting as the movie hopes to be. But when the plot is in full swing and the second villain of the piece is revealed, we get to see Rudolph work her magic as Malvina. I daresay that an entire spinoff devoted to Malvina and the second antagonist would be a great premise for a third Enchanted film.
And I have to say — Idina Menzel looks shockingly like Kathryn Hahn in Disenchanted. Given the tone and camp of the film, there were moments there was WandaVision deja vu (it's a completely different franchise in a completely different film with completely different actors). Nevertheless, it left me franctically doing comparison searches between the two actresses.
Disenchanted brings a lot more to the plate than might first be expected, with an interesting twist and a thoroughly enjoyable third Act. It manages to do justice to the first film, while still carving out its own story. If you're a fan of fairytales, this one's for you.