You can never have too much magic, and 15 years since the first movie, “Enchanted,” its sequel film, “Disenchanted,” proves that once again.
The storyline picks up from the original 2007 movie, featuring Amy Adams as the quirky Giselle, Patrick Dempsey as the wearisome lawyer Robert and James Marsden as the dashing Prince Edward. The original movie followed Giselle navigating the world we live in, which lacks the “happily-ever-after” ideology that characterized the world she originally hailed from called Andalasia.
“Disenchanted” takes the first few minutes to gloss over the events necessary to understand how Giselle has situated into her new life. Needless to say, as most family-friendly movies go, the plot is easy to follow and does not require in-depth knowledge of what happened prior.
We open up to Giselle and her family in their Manhattan apartment, packing up the last of their belongings, hoping to begin a new life in a suburban town called Monroeville. Upon arriving, they meet the proprietor of their house, who also happens to own all of the estates in the town, the scrupulous Malvina Monroe, played by “Saturday Night Live” comedian and actress Maya Rudolph. Then, the charming Prince Edward and his wife (played by Disney’s own Idina Menzel) bestow a gift to the family that invokes strong magic capable of almost anything, which you can guess, leads to some predicament where Giselle becomes the very thing she feared: a villain. In true story-book fashion, she must run against the clock to reverse its effects.
In tandem with the first movie, the dialogue and acting contain the same over-the-top cheeriness on behalf of the main characters while simultaneously contrasted with the handful of non-idealistic “normal” ones. These particular movies are said to take a playful jab at the ditsy, overly-optimistic personalities that delineate Disney movies. Nonetheless, Giselle’s love for her daughter, Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino), and the lengths she will go to mend her mistakes offer that dose of resolution and thoughtfulness.
While the classic feel of the Disney princess movie still holds, what makes this movie interesting is the theme surrounding parenting. While it is not explicitly stated, the audience watches Giselle learn to respond to her child, who is a teenager, where the social and emotional pressure they experience is at its strongest. It’s a theme that both parents and children can relate to as we see Morgan coming to understand that everything her mother has done, or tried to do, was always with good intentions toward her wellbeing.
“Disenchanted” shows that parents want the best for their child, but they sometimes do not read into what it is their child actually needs.
In a nuanced way, the result of this does mirror real life. The child does their best to meet their parents’ expectations, which can be viewed as a sort of Cinderella-esque endeavor; children are expected to put their head down and abide by the doings their parent has put into place for them.
However, the truth is that nothing will ever fulfill the unrealistic expectation the parent has, which ultimately vilifies them, straining the relationship between parent and child, such as in the movie. We see Giselle quickly finds out the cost of living out a reality that is not her daughter’s wish. In a sense, what parents may place on a child is what they wish they could have, what they did not receive enough of or is simply a reflection of what they are dissatisfied with in the real world.
This is a definitively substantial message under all that fabric and glitter used in the movie. But it is not the only thing that carries the feel-good film. The aesthetics and music of the film live up to the quality that Disney movies have earned themselves. Sprightly colors, intricate decorations and sing-song melodies all wrapped up in a bow promise a whimsical viewing; there are certainly no shortcomings in the quality of the setup and execution.
If you’re looking for something to sweep you into a whirlwind of vibrant visuals, pleasant character development and engaging music, then you will find this movie achieves it effortlessly. While the kind of magic we wish for does not exist in our realm, Disney films ultimately inspire us to look for the magic within ourselves, which is what “Disenchanted” serves to remind us of.