Disney Channel’s first original movie produced exclusively for Disney+ feels like a cross between your typical DCOM and a Marvel Studios production, resulting in something that fails to be either. Secret Society of Second-Born Royals starring Peyton Elizabeth Lee (Andi Mack) merges a new group of Disney Princesses (and two princes) with the superhero genre, albeit unsuccessfully. It’s X-Men meets any Hallmark Channel princess movie and it’s as bad as that sounds.
Sam is a princess who rebels against her own monarchy, leading protest gatherings with her best friend Mike. But when she is sent to summer school, she discovers that it’s actually a cover for a super royals training program. Alongside other royal spares, Sam and her new friends learn how to use their powers to become a secret asset to their older siblings. But When a powerful stranger turns up to try and stop Sam’s sister from becoming Queen to end her family’s rule, they find themselves in their first on-the-job battle before their training is complete.
The first problem with Secret Society of Second-Born Royals is the fact that Sam starts out wanting to establish democracy in her kingdom, later faced with a villain who wants to do the same thing but she has now changed her mind. The film throws a lot of other drama your way in between hoping you forget where her character started because she doesn’t exactly progress or change throughout the film. The film also suffers from way too much exposition, not only trying to develop Sam but her four classmates all within the first act.
Sam’s plot alone is overburdened with too much going on for this kind of film. She’s moody and rebellious, which makes her a little hard to like, and her character isn’t given time to become endearing. When she’s not rebelling against her own family’s throne or sneaking out to rock concerts, she’s brooding over the loss of her father and playing guitar inside a clock tower set that feels more like a villain’s lair than anything else. And while viewers are distracted by trying to learn more about her four Secret Society teammates, there’s also a jealous best friend subplot because Sam can’t tell Mike anything about what she’s doing. It’s a lot and, unfortunately, it’s too much.
But perhaps the biggest sin Secret Society of Second-Born Royals makes is that it’s boring. Not only is the lead character hard to get invested in, but the plot moves at a snail’s pace full of stuff you’ve seen before in any Marvel or Hunger Games movie. It feels harvested from the leftovers of better films and in the end is entirely forgettable. You can tell that the creators hoped this would become a big franchise by the way it ends, but I have a feeling this will be the one and only adventure for these super royals.
Secret Society of Second-Born Royals is, in my opinion, the least impressive original movie to premiere on Disney+. A simple premise with overly complicated and dull backstories, kids might not make it all the way through and nothing particularly compels parents to stick around either. But hey, at least there’s tons of other great content available to stream on Disney+ if you get bored with it.
I give Secret Society of Second-Born Royals 2 out of 5 blue jumpsuits.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.