After fifteen years, Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey return to the Enchanted universe for a sequel. Directed by Adam Shankman, Disenchanted picks up about a decade after the events of the first film and sees Giselle — now with the last name of Phillip — with a new baby, which leads her family to move to the suburbs, causing tension between her and teenage stepdaughter Morgan (played by Gabriella Baldacchino).
Tensions rise between the two as Giselle tries a little too hard to help Morgan adjust to their new town, and godparents King Edward and Queen Nancy (played by the returning James Marsden and Idina Menzel) arrive to bestow a magical gift onto new baby Sophia. When things reach a boiling point, Giselle uses said gift to try to improve the family’s situation but ends up getting more than she bargained for.
The story here is a classic “be careful what you wish for” situation combined with a key message about nontraditional families and growing up. None of this is new, but the magical elements of the story allow the cast to have quite a bit of fun with it, particularly Adams, who plays a dual role of sorts as her magic spell leads to some unintended consequences that bring out a new side of Giselle. Baldacchino holds her own in scenes with powerhouses Adams and Menzel, and Maya Rudolph joins the franchise with a tour-de-force performance of her own as the story’s main villain. Her lackeys of sorts are played by scene-stealers Yvette Nicole Brown and Jayma Mays.
Since this is a story about mothers and daughters at its core, the women are center stage, and the men take more of a backseat. Dempsey’s Robert, who was one of the first film’s central figures, doesn’t get a lot to do here and is practically inessential to the plot (though he does get to sing a tiny bit in this one). Marsden’s Edward is as fun to watch as ever but doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as in the original either.
Also returning from Enchanted is songwriter Alan Menken. He has that “classic Disney” sound down pat (as he should, considering how many Disney movies he’s done music for by this point), but Disenchanted’s songs aren’t nearly as powerful as its predecessor’s. If there is a stand-out, it’s probably the duet between Adams and Rudolph about their rivalry, and fortunately, the film rectifies the original’s mistake of not giving Menzel a number of her own by allowing her both a big solo and a cute duet with Marsden. Really, it’d be a crime for a franchise poking fun at classic Disney tropes to not let her sing her heart out since she became a bona fide Disney icon in the interim between these two films as the voice of Frozen’s Elsa. (They even manage to work a “Let It Go” reference into her big song.)
The other area in which the film is lacking a little bit is the satire itself. While there’s still a lot of discussion of how fairytale tropes fit (or don’t) into the real world, it’s played a bit more straight here, with less of a knowing wink to the audience. In the fifteen years between these movies, Disney making fun of itself has become a trope of its own — and admittedly a pretty tired one at this point — but the Enchanted franchise actually seems like the most appropriate place to do it so it’s odd that they cut back on it a little with this sequel.
Disenchanted probably isn’t quite as strong as its predecessor, but is a worthy follow-up, and it’s certainly fun to catch up with these characters and go on another adventure with them. It’s a good movie for families to watch together, and should hit that nostalgia button for fans of the original movie.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7.5 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.