I am so glad we got Disney+ in the Philippines when we did. It’s just in time for the Christmas season so I can go binge watch a ton of things during the Holiday break. I still haven’t watched a lot of the more recent Marvel releases like the Eternals, Shang-Chi, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight and lots more. There are also the upcoming programs like the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. I can’t miss out on that one! What made the timing of Disney+’s release in the Philippines very, well, timely is it came out just a day before the release of Disenchanted.
I loved the everything about original Enchanted. I love how Disney made fun of their very own Disney Princess tropes. I love the colorful presentation and the transition from the bright animation to the drearier real life setting of New York. I love all of the performances, especially how over the top cheery Amy Adams’ Giselle and James Marsden’s Prince Edward were. I especially love most of the songs as well. As much as I love Enchanted, I never really felt there was a need for a sequel. However, Disney decided to make one so why look a gift horse in the mouth? Besides, it could be the very first actual movie I watched on Disney+!
While I was able to watch Disenchanted on the day it came out because I have Disney+, I do recognize a lot may not have the streaming service or they may not have seen it even if they do. Maybe they’re not sure if they do want to see a sequel to Enchanted. So it’s for them as to why this is still going to be a SPOILER FREE review. Anyway, on with the review!
Disenchanted takes place an entire decade after the events of Enchanted. Giselle, Robert and Morgan now have a new addition to the family so their New York apartment is getting too small for them. They opt to move to the small town of Monroeville to start anew there. Unfortunately, the move isn’t exactly going well for Robert and Morgan. Giselle, using a wand that was given to her as a gift from the now King and Queen of Andalasia, Edward and Nancy, to wish for her family to “live a fairy tale life.” The wand grants her wish, transforming Monroeville into a fantasy town called Monroelasia but maybe she might have wished she hadn’t…
I will commend Disney for the plot as it’s not just another “fish out of water” plot like Enchanted was. I actually think the premise is pretty good as it uses it to throw some shade towards some of other Disney Princess tropes. Things like Giselle turning more wicked after making the wish because she’s now a stepmother to Morgan. Well, aren’t all stepmothers in Disney Princess movie always wicked? I like these kinds of nods. However, the film never really goes all out with satirizing their own movies.
I also love how some of the characters have grown up and changed here. It would have been so easy to make Giselle the naive ditz she was in the original film. In Disenchanted, she’s still positive and innocent but you can still see she’s generally adapted to living in the “real” world. Morgan, the stepdaughter, has also aged up and, while it would have been obvious to write her as a surly teenage who doesn’t have time for Giselle’s upbeat attitude, she’s more accepting of who her stepmother is and doesn’t really hates that she’s like this. Even Robert has become much more upbeat and a little now because some of Giselle’s perky attitude has rubbed off him in the 10 years they’ve been together. Some characters are still very static, most notably King Edward. He’s still clueless and goofy but why change what was broken?
However, just because most of the characters have grown up, I still don’t understand how Queen Nancy has adapted to the life in Andalasia so much. In the first movie, she was this strong and serious woman. In Disenchanted, it seems like she’s thoroughly gotten accustomed to living in fairy tale land. I mean, she even belts out a couple of songs this time around. I get she’s played by Idina Menzel, who has this killer singing voice, and it would be a shame if she didn’t sing a couple of songs. I just half expected her to be still somewhat cynical and just a little bit peeved she does have to sing at all.
Speaking of the music, I will say the songs are generally good but just not as memorable as the first film. Granted, the only actual songs I remember are “True Love’s Kiss” and “That’s How You Know”. At least I can still recite the lyrics from memory because they’re super catchy and fun. I can’t say the same for the music in Disenchanted. They’re all pretty good but lack that kind of earworm to make them stick out in your brain. Out of all the songs, Badder is probably the best one but, like I said, the tune just kinds of fade away from my memory after some time.
The acting in Disenchanted is pretty amazing all around. Amy Adams returns to play Giselle and she does still manage to recapture all of the idiosyncracies and nuances of idiosyncrasies her character from the first. I also love how goofy and over-the-top James Marsden’s King Edward is here and makes me wish he was in the movie more. Both Patrick Dempsey and Idina Menzel also do fine jobs as Robert and Queen Nancy. New to the film is Maya Rudolf as Malvina Monroe, the self-professed “queen” of the town. I do love how underhandedly evil she comes off. It also appears Morgan was recast and is now played by Gabriella Baldacchino and she does a pretty fine job of threading the needle of sullen teenager but still loves her parents.
I also love the overall presentation of Disenchanted. While it does seem to be of smaller scale as it takes place in a small suburban town and not New York, they do make the most of it. When the town is transformed into a fairy tale setting, it does look like a cleaned up little hamlet from the past. The costumes are also really well thought of as everyone does look the part. I especially love Maya Rudolf’s “Queen Malvina” look as she does look reminiscent of Disney characters like the Evil Queen from Snow White or Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. There are also a couple of scenes that take place in Andalasia and it nice to see them still use hand-drawn animation for these parts. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the animation still looks gorgeous. I will say the CGI does look a little rough at times, especially when it comes to the animated animals, but you do get used to it.
Speaking of things which don’t work, Disenchanted’s overall story feels a little overstuffed with unnecessary side-stories. Remember when I summarized the plot and one of the reasons why Giselle and the entire family moved to the suburbs because of their family is bigger now that they have a new baby? Well, the baby is just there and never figures into the story at all for the rest of the movie. We also get a sub-plot regarding Richard’s “adventures” now that Monroeville has changed into a more magical land. There’s even a budding romance between Morgan and Malvina’s son which doesn’t add anything to the story all that much. It’s like Disney ordered all of this stuff to be added just so they could pad out the film’s 118-minute runtime.
Oddly enough, my biggest gripe I have with Disenchanted is it doesn’t quite capture the magic of Enchanted. Yes, Amy Adams is great and she manages to recapture what made Giselle such a fun character. Sure, the story is unique and it definitely feels like a continuation from the first movie. I also have to say how good everything looks and the music is… okay. However, Disenchanted doesn’t feel as sharp and witty as the original. There’s still some of that Disney magic here but it doesn’t shine as bright as the first film.
Even with that said, I do like Disenchanted enough to give it a hearty recommendation. Amy Adams and Maya Rudolf do pull off some incredibly enjoyable performances here. It introduces enough new stuff to be its own thing but, if you’re like me and you absolutely adore Enchanted, temper your expectations a little bit. I may not have wished for a sequel to Enchanted but Disenchanted is still a magical experience on its own.
Have you seen Disenchanted? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!