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"Disenchanted" (2022) Review

Thanks to The Simpsons, Alex is smart enough to know you don't walk around rakes.

"Disenchanted" (2022)

"Disenchanted" (2022)

After 15 years and multiple teases, a sequel to Disney's 2007 classic, Enchanted, has finally been released. The original was a loving parody of Disney's fairy tale subgenre. Like Shaun of the Dead or a Weird Al song, the film spoofed the tropes while still holding reverence for the originals.

Amy Adams feels like the perfect choice for a live-action Disney princess. Enchanted has some genuinely funny moments, and the film has a good message about accepting the real world while embracing the magic and optimism of fairy tales.

Disenchanted Flips Script of Original

Disenchanted picks up ten years later, with Gisele and Robert moving from New York City to a small town called Monroeville. Robert's daughter Morgan takes a particular dislike to this idea. After crashing and burning in trying to sway Morgan, Gisele wishes life were like her fairy tale world. And her wish is granted.

Naturally, she wants to undo this, but she's slowly becoming a wicked stepmother, making her less inclined to undo the wish before the deadline. Matters are complicated by the town leader turning into a wicked queen, and the magic being sucked out of Gisele's home of Andalasia.

On paper, that premise sounds reasonable. The first film was about a cartoon character visiting the real world. So why not flip the script and have the real-world people go to Gisele's world?

A similar premise worked for the 10-hour miniseries, The 10th Kingdom, released at the turn of the millennium. Disney themselves made the premise work in the long-running TV series, Once Upon a Time.

Disenchanted is Correctly Titled

I was surprised when I learned Barry Sonnenfeld worked on this after working on the Apple TV+ series Schmigadoon!, which has a similar premise. The thing is, that show is about normal people going to a musical world. In Disenchanted, characters still break out into song, only to visit a world where they break out into song.

Another problem is because everyone is transformed, they don't spend much of the movie behaving like themselves. Gisele is one of the only characters who remembers life in the real world, while everyone else has had a personality makeover.

Film Doesn't Know It's a Comedy

While there would be in danger of repeating jokes from the first film or devolving into self-parody, this film feels like they forgot the first film was a comedy. Enchanted has some genuinely funny moments (especially from James Marsden), but here, I can hardly tell what the jokes are even supposed to be.

James Marsden and Idina Menzel in "Disenchanted"

James Marsden and Idina Menzel in "Disenchanted"

The movie gets off to a pretty rough start with the inexplicable move from New York to Monroeville. And the trope of the teenager moving to a town where she doesn't fit in feels like it was culled from a billion '90s movies (Casper and Hocus Pocus come to mind immediately).

The attempts to sell Morgan's dissatisfaction with this new town feel so forced and sitcom-ish, and once the premise kicks into gear they're brushed aside. And Disenchanted not only fails to sell a feud between Gisele and Malvina, but the real-world conflict is solved too easily.

Has Direct-to-Video Feel

Disenchanted also feels a little cheap, in a way that's hard to articulate. Someone who watched the two movies sight unseen would probably be able to tell which was the theatrical release and which debuted on Disney+. I'm reminded of the cheap direct-to-video or made-for-TV sequels that were common in the '90s, but with the budget to rehire the original actors.

Is there anything good? Well, Disenchanted is weirdly watchable. It's colorful and energetic. Younger audiences and anyone who enjoys fairy tale mythos might enjoy that aspect of the film. For that reason, I could also see people not dwelling too much on the first film enjoying this.

Idina Menzel Singing is THE Highlight

The filmmakers also had the wisdom to let Idina Menzel sing (probably the only aspect where this film wins over the first). Menzel's big song number is so much better than the rest of the movie, it's absurd.

Overall, Disenchanted isn't an abominable sequel, but it's hard to recommend. I'm reminded of films like Superman Returns and Bill & Ted Face the Music, movies that were in development for a dog's age.

They feel like everyone threw ideas at the wall, they were micromanaged to death, and in the end, they made a movie that feels like they were interested in ticking off as few people as possible instead of making something good.

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© 2022 Alex deCourville