Review by Daniel Blackaby November 18, 2022
Disenchanted (Christian Movie Review)
Verdict: Despite a wholesome story and some fun moments, the long-awaited sequel can’t recapture the magic of the original.
About The Movie
Disney’s Enchanted (2007) arrived as a fresh and charming ode to classic Disney fairytales. The movie was both a loving spoof and a celebration of the classic tropes. Although it poked fun at fairytale clichés, it also ended with the discovery of true love and an apparent happily ever after. Fifteen years later (don’t worry, it opens with a summary of the first film), the straight-to-streaming sequel checks in on the characters and asks the question: What comes after happily ever after?
The long-awaited sequel flips the script from the first film. Enchanted was a fish-out-of-water story of a Disney princess in New York City. Disenchanted, on the other hand, imagines the real world as a fairytale. The first 35 minutes are glum aside from the bubbly personality of Princess Giselle (Amy Adams). Her blissful happily ever after has morphed into sleepless parenting, monotonous work, and a world that has lost its charm and novelty. To return to “the good ‘ol days,” she uses a magic wand to transform the real world into a magical fairyland, although not everything goes according to plan. It is not until this transformation that the story begins to build energy.
Disenchanted is a fittingly meta title. All the enjoyable elements from the original film make their return, and there are certainly some fun moments. But the film never recaptures the magic that made the first film work so well. Most of the movie falls into the “good but could have been better” category. The songs are okay, but not memorable. The blending of live-action and 2D animation is amusing but brief, and the cartoon land is not the same vibrant world from the original.
The reality-as-fairytale concept is amusing (particularly a swashbuckling Patrick Dempsey), but with a runtime of nearly 2 hours, it feels too long. Newcomer Gabriella Baldacchino as Morgan—Princess Giselle’s teenage stepdaughter—is a standout character, but comedian Maya Rudolph as an evil queen feels like a miscast. Enchanted put Amy Adams on the map as a Hollywood star, and she slips effortlessly back into the role. But her character takes a more villainous turn. It’s an interesting idea, but a sinister “evil stepmother” Giselle is just not as fun as the optimistic and cheerful princess of the original, which is the beating heart of the series.
There is also a question of the target audience. It’s a wholesome story, but it is more of a commentary on fairytales than a fairytale itself. The plot involves characters navigating a midlife crisis, a theme seemingly more geared toward now-grown audiences of the original rather than new viewers. There are enough fun elements to keep children’s attention, but I’m not sure many will be “enchanted” by it.
Disenchanted is not a bad film. As a straight-to-streaming movie, it offers sufficient entertainment and is wholesome enough for family viewing. Nevertheless, it lacks the magic of the original film and sadly seems destined to be forgotten once the clock strikes midnight.
On the Surface
Profanity: One utterance of “hell” and multiple uses of “What the heck.” A character says, “Oh my god,” and later, “My god.” There are a handful of other rude words (“It sucked,” “I hate,” etc.).
Sexuality: Giselle comments that her dress is too low-cut.
Other: As expected from a fairytale, there is plenty of magic throughout. The fairytale land of Andalasia is literally made of magic, including all its inhabitants. The plot focuses on a magic “wishing wand,” and the evil queen performs various spells and tricks (mostly shooting purple magic energy).
Beneath The Surface
Engage The Film
Embracing Life as It Is, Not as You Wish it Were
At the start of the movie, a character says, “There is no after happily ever after. You just get married. And then nothing ever happens to you again.” For as long as there have been fairytale stories there have been grumpy curmudgeons to remind everyone that “real life” doesn’t work like that. Love at first sight and marrying the prince you met 10 minutes ago at a ball may sound romantic, but what happens after that? Well, Disenchanted has the answer (killjoys rejoice!).
The story picks up with Princess Giselle longing for her blissful fairytale days. The Bible teaches that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaven . . . He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,11). But Giselle struggles to move into the next season of her life. She sings, “How I miss that fairytale life. Where you wake each day, and nothing’s changed.” Her insistence on clinging to the past rather than embracing the moment begins to negatively impact her husband and daughter. With the help of a magic wand, she finally gets her wish and changes the world into a fairytale, but it proves not to be all she had hoped.
At the end of the film, after finally setting things right again, she sings, “And though here in reality, my ever-after may not be at every moment happily, it’s even more enchanted.” She has learned to be content in her circumstances, echoing the apostle Paul’s assertion, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).