It’s been 15 years since Enchanted dazzled our eyes and hearts. It had everything going for it: a fish out of water Giselle trying to adapt to a world so different from Andalasia, the handsome, cynical man who falls in love with her, and a memorable villain who provided considerable stakes. I watched it in the cinema as an 18 year old surrounded by a crowd of mostly adults, and everyone enjoyed the movie so thoroughly. Needless to say, that wasn’t my only time watching Enchanted, and I’ve come back to it many times over the years. However, I can’t say the same for Disenchanted. We’ve been asking Disney for a sequel to Enchanted for years, and now that it’s finally here, I feel the adage of “be careful what you wish for” applies.
Enchanted ended with Giselle (Amy Adams), Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and Morgan becoming a family. Things were relatively good until Giselle had baby Sofia. It was a big change for her and Robert, and even for Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino), who became more distant with her. Giselle finds herself yearning for the good times in Andalasia, where the scariest things you could find were dragons and ogres. She sees a sign for Monroeville, with a tagline that promises a fairy tale, so she decides moving to Monroeville would be the best thing for her family. That’s where things begin in the movie, with the whole family packing up their New York apartment and following Giselle’s half-baked plan.
Morgan is of course angry that she has to leave New York and all her friends, and while Robert’s not the most enthused, he’s trying to be supportive of Giselle. If you were hoping for more of the Adams-Dempsey magic we got in the first movie, you’ll find none of that in this one. Yes, the main narrative isn’t focused on their romantic relationship anymore, but they don’t even behave like they love each other. There’s one part in the movie where Giselle pushes Robert out of a moving carriage, and that felt more real than any other interaction they share in this film.
When they arrive at Monroeville, things aren’t great. Their home isn’t ready, most of Morgan’s belongings get burned, and Robert has to make the long commute for work in the city. Giselle is trying to make amends with Morgan, but in usual Giselle fashion, can’t quite read the room. As much as I love Giselle’s wide-eyed doe act, it’s a bit out of place considering the number of years she’s spent away from Andalasia. She’s still singing whenever the opportunity calls for it, talking to animals and even constructing little forts for them.
During a visit from Edward (James Marsden) and Nancy (Idina Menzel), they gift Sofia a magical wand that would grant her one wish. Why they would even do this is beyond me – Edward’s always been a bit thick in the skull, but Nancy should have a little more sense. After a fight with Morgan, Giselle can’t bear it anymore, and uses the wand to wish that her life would be a fairy tale. And she gets it, only this time, she’s the wicked stepmother. This is actually an inspired twist, but the writers unfortunately don’t know how to handle it, so we get a generic story instead of a nuanced take on such female archetypes.
Adams can be fun to watch as evil Giselle, but it’s never quite on the level of menace we expect from a villainous stepmother. Elsewhere, Maya Rudolph plays Malvina, who becomes the evil queen in this new fairy tale version of Monroeville. There’s really nothing significant about her performance here, and that’s because the movie gives her nothing of significance to do except be evil.
Enchanted was daring and magical, and its sequel is the opposite – more keen to trot back into familiarity and wastes all the magic it could have had.
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Amy Adams, to her credit, still gives it her all in this sequel to Enchanted. Unfortunately, she's in a film that wastes all her efforts.
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