Disenchanted fails to recapture the magic of the first movie

Amy Adams as Gisele in Adam Shankman's Disenchanted

Amy Adams as Gisele in Adam Shankman Disillusioned
Photo: disney

There’s a Legitimately Good Premise Buried in Director Adam Shankman’s Heart Disillusioned. This sequel to that of 2007 Delighted, Disney’s incredibly funny, subversive, and clever blunder of animated fairy tales once again dispels the “happily ever after” myth, and this time shows how even the best intentions can be corrupted. Yet its narrative and thematic feelings come across as both undercooked and overly contrived. With less memorable songs and scripts, he strangles all the wit and charm of his clever ideas, disappointing an audience that has been waiting for him longer than James Cameron fans hoped for a Avatar after.

Turns out happily ever after wasn’t the end of Princess Giselle’s story. She may have found true love with Robert (Patrick Dempsey), as well as her place in the world at the end of the first film. But that doesn’t mean she’s stopped writing her own storybook fantasy. This tracking feature starts with a short jump in time and a new baby in the family. As their family unit grows and life circumstances cause tiny cracks in their forever bliss, her fairy tale seems more distant than ever. That’s when she sees a sign pointing to the quaint suburban town of Monroeville. While Robert is ready for a change of scenery, Giselle’s sarcastic teenage stepdaughter, Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino), is much more reluctant to budge.

Their new life gets off to a bad start while their castle is still under construction. Robert is mostly absent due to a long commute. The welcoming committee, led by the tyrannical gifted Malvina (Maya Rudolph), is not so nice as condescending. And Morgan struggles growing up trying to fit in at her high school and look cool to cute crush Tyson (Kolton Stewart), Malvina’s son. So Giselle uses a magic wand from Edward (James Marsden) and Nancy (Idina Menzel) to wish those problems away. Yet, in her frenzy to make all their problems go away, she creates new ones, turning the town into a cartoonish village ruled by an evil queen – and inadvertently presenting herself as an evil stepmother to a tricked-out stepdaughter.

Shankman’s well-established disregard for where to cut the action in song and dance numbers does the performers and his own choreography a well-established disservice. He and editors Emma E. Hickox and Chris Lebenzon cut too soon or too late, to a distracting degree. The pacing of these big, sweeping musical sequences is off-putting, hampering much of the catchy dynamism. “Fairy Tale Life (The Wish)” alternately aspires to the splendor of The beauty and the Beast and Busby Berkeley pageantry, but never achieves the grand grandeur of the first film’s signature number, “That’s How You Know.” Even Andalasia’s animated sequences aren’t as polished as they used to be.

From what we can glean, Giselle appears to be battling some form of postpartum depression early in our story, but is completely forgotten by the end. At no point in her journey, shifting into her villainous persona and (inevitably) back, does she take stock of what lies at the heart of her misfortune in order to enact eternal change. And an “I Want” song by a wishing well doesn’t help her understand.

Her inner conflict is quickly overtaken by a trivial mother-daughter feud, an example of how Brigitte Hales’ screenplay (working from a story by J. David Stem, David N. Weiss and Richard LaGravenese) becomes complicated at excess. Morgan’s arc overshadows her stepmother’s internal issues rather than fitting in or completing a shared journey to save the world from Giselle’s mistake. A finale in which they have a heart-to-heart doesn’t solve their individual problems or elicit tears.

Blatant references to classic Disney animation provide shoddy fan service. These cheap and entertaining gizmos, which run through production and costume design, can give families a fun game of seeing who spots the most during the film’s nearly two hours, but they desperately need to be incorporated in some way. more imaginative. Gardening girls sporting the distinct colors of fairies in Sleeping Beauty to the clumsy goons of Malvina dressed similarly to the stepsisters of Cinderella, these tributes elicit laughs of recognition at best.

The film’s failures extend to its music. Although pioneering songwriters Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz return, their songs don’t live up to those of the first film. The musicals all hit familiar notes, but these lackluster tunes repeat many of the same beats from the original and possess none of the subversive benefits expected of this franchise. “Even More Enchanted,” sung as Giselle dances around the construction in their home, feels like a pale clone of “Happy Working Song.” The only shot at anything unique is during “Badder,” which rhymes its title with “bladder” in a stylized cha-cha duo of villains.

Disenchanted | Official trailer | Disney+

Amy Adams manages to make the most of her lifeless material, despite direction that stifles much of her work. Her character’s sweet naïveté, paired with a delightfully wicked turn, always delivers the goods. She once again confidently captures the overt physicality and nuanced psychology of her evolving character. Baldacchino manages to create a handful of moments to show his grace and vulnerability. Menzel, who didn’t sing in the previous iteration, can finally use his pipes a few times, most memorably singing the power ballad “Love Power.”

However, no one else is doing so well. Rudolph’s costume wears it instead of the other way around. Yvette Nicole Brown and Jayma Mays, playing the silly damsels of Malvina, are funny women but get lost in the noisy melee. Dempsey is sidelined in a great performance of nothing that doesn’t even live up to James Marsden’s turn in the first film. Meanwhile, Marsden is barely used to any significant effect.

At the end of the day, Disillusioned serves as a reminder to “be careful what you wish for” – on many different levels. Shot and put together more like a Disney Channel Original rather than a spectacular sequel to an Oscar-nominated blockbuster, Shankman’s film leaves audiences wanting more, and not in a good way. Its lack of legitimate wit, intelligence, and focus makes a promising concept feel like a wasted wish, evoking little of the magic that made its predecessor so memorable.