Movie Review: “Disenchanted” Was Worth the Wait

Some things are worth waiting for and Disenchanted is one of them. The long-awaited sequel to Disney’s 2007 fairytale musical Enchanted applies the same formula that worked so well for the theme of love to tell an equally resonant story about motherhood. It’s got more singing, more dancing, and a healthy dose of magic for movie night.

(Disney)

(Disney)

Giselle (Amy Adams) and Robert (Patrick Dempsey) welcome a new baby to the family, moving to the quiet community of Monroeville to raise her. It’s a difficult move for teenage Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino), who not only had to leave her friends and school behind, but is now watching her stepmother bond with a baby that’s all hers. So when Edward (James Marsden) and Nancy (Idina Menzel) drop by to bestow a gift to “A true daughter of Andalasia,” Morgan’s insecurities are only amplified. Longing for simpler times, Giselle makes a wish to bring magic to Monroeville and accidentally sets off a curse that begins to transform her into a wicked stepmother.

Disenchanted gives Giselle a villain arc and a new nemesis to face off against, Malvina Monroe, played by Maya Rudolph. Adams and Rudolph cast their own magic on the film as they literally dance around each other. Amy Adams recaptures the spirit of Giselle while straddling the character’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde dynamic with her evil self. She flip-flops back and forth like the pro she is, delivering a performance as memorable as Gollum/Sméagol. Maya Rudolph brings her SNL campy qualities to Malvina’s evil queen transformation and is assisted by her minions, played by Yvette Nicole Brown and Jayma Mays.

Oscar winners Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz have returned as songwriters with seven new songs added to the score. Idina Menzel somehow ended up without a song in the original film, an error that has been rectified here. She shares the duet “The Magic of Andalasia” with her on-screen husband James Marsden, but also delivers a belting ballad worthy of her range called “Love Power” (a pop reprise appears over the end credits, also by Menzel). For me, the musical highlight of the film is a campy fight number called “Badder” between Giselle and Malvina that is uptempo and has some incredible lyrics.

(Disney)

(Disney)

The unexpected surprise of Disenchanted is Gabriella Baldacchino, who takes over the role of Robert’s daughter Morgan and proves to be a shooting star on the rise. If you didn’t know the role had been recast, you would swear this was the same girl from Enchanted 15 years later. With Morgan transforming into Giselle’s Cinderella-esque stepdaughter, she transforms into a princess in the making and navigates a love arc with her high school crush Tyson (Kolton Stewart), Malvina’s son and prince when Monroeville becomes Monrolasia.

The film strikes the right balance of humor and heart, taking every opportunity to pay homage to classic Disney animated fantasies (but mostly Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast). However, it’s not without its imperfections. Disenchanted falters through an unnecessary subplot for Robert in which he becomes an aspiring dragon slayer (he gets his own song – “Hard Time for Heroes”), which plays like its own encapsulated storyline with no bearing on everything else going on. The climax also feels undercooked, especially when compared to Narissa’s dragon transformation from the first film. And the 2D animated sequences take a nosedive in quality, with fluidity of motion almost nonexistent. It’s the equivalent of switching from the grandeur of a classic like Aladdin to a more rapidly produced direct-to-video sequel like Return of Jafar.

Criticisms aside, I was caught up in Enchanted’s spell 15 years ago and had always wanted more. Disenchanted delivers, treating fans to more story, more songs, and more magic.

I give Disenchanted 4 out of 5 chimes of the Monrolasia clock.

Stream Disenchanted beginning Friday, November 18th, only on Disney+.

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