Enchanted is the latest in a slew of beloved Disney films to get a legacy sequel on streaming. The 2007 film is rounding its 15-year anniversary, so it’s just dipping its toe into Disney Classic territory, and by all accounts, it deserves the title. Disenchanted, the sequel from choreographer turned director Adam Shankman, has a tough act to beat right from the get-go.
Disenchanted dares to ask, what happens after the real world’s happily ever after? In Enchanted, Giselle (Amy Adams) chose to stay with her new lawyer beau Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and stepdaughter in the real world rather than return with her prince to her kingdom of Andalasia. By the events of the sequel, her stepdaughter Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino), is a teenager and Giselle has a baby of her own. The family relocates to the suburbs of Monroeville, and overwhelmed by the rough transition, she taps into the magic of Andalasia to make her own real-life fairytale ending. Things go awry when she’s cast in the role of the wicked stepmother and must undo the spell before it settles into permanence.
By far, the best part of Disenchanted is Amy Adam’s reprisal of Giselle. She brings the exact same wide-eyed enthusiasm from the original, easily slipping into the role of a more mature fairytale character. Disenchanted flips the archetype on its head as the curse takes effect, requiring her to pivot between opposite ends of the fairytale spectrum. Adams delivers wonderfully, leading the film with a confident stride.
As for the journey of Giselle in Disenchanted, it’s painfully simplistic. From the moment the conflict is introduced, it is very easy to predict how the story will end. That is not necessarily a negative, but it does mean that the viewing experience has more to do with enjoying the individual scenes as they come rather than the intrigue of guessing at the end. There are no ideas to dissect, no scenes to discuss at length.
The villain of Malvina Monroe (Maya Rudolph), the queen bee of the film’s new suburbia, is a bit of a letdown as there is a myriad of possible foils she could have represented to Giselle, but ends up very one-note and stereotypical. Their scenes together are still some of the best since, at the very least, Disenchanted is certainly a fun movie to watch. The comedy is pleasant and the chemistry between the actors is enjoyable, particularly between Rudolph and her two henchwomen, Jayma Mays and Yvette Nicole Brown. Maya Rudolph plays the villain with a reserved sort of comedic bitterness, and though that runs the risk of seeming out of place against the overall earnestness of the story, she melds it well with the film’s tone.
At some points in Disenchanted, the production value feels pinched by its budget. The costumes are the standout and this fantasy world remains pleasant and bright, albeit a bit empty and lifeless at times. There are some scenes where this manifests worse than others, but the magical CGI and 2D animation for the film are not among them and continue to be rendered smoothly just like in the 2007 film.
As for the return of the original cast, Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden are regulated to the back burner. Marsden, especially, is criminally underutilized, which is unfortunate since he’s a fan-favorite of the first film. Disenchanted is clearly more focused on the mother-daughter dynamic between Giselle and Morgan, however, it also hastily shoves Dempsey’s Robert into a lonesome side quest. Marsden’s King Edward has even less screen time, but Idina Menzel, who plays Queen Nancy, has much more of a presence. In fact, the Disney company got yet another vocally challenging ballad out of her with “Love Power.”
While Disney legends Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz return for composing and songwriting duties, the songs in Disenchanted are not quite on the same god-tier caliber as before. The lyrics are notably lacking here. Whereas music is perfectly serviceable for the film, they probably won’t pull the same streams as the original’s scoring.
Disenchanted is finely suited for streaming on Disney+. Something to throw on a Friday night when you’re not sure what else to watch. You can settle into a slice of nostalgia from 15 years ago or, if a newcomer to the series, enjoy a lighthearted family film. It’s neither something to actively look forward to nor feel like a waste of time. Disenchanted is simply an entirely average and familiar Disney flick. The cast elevates the material, executing it with the same earnest fun as the original.