DISENCHANTED (2022) l Disney | November 18, 2022
Starring: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Idina Menzel
Director: Adam Shankman
An all-new live-action musical comedy, “Disenchanted” is a sequel to Disney’s box office hit “Enchanted” featuring the original cast from the heart-warming story of the lovable maiden from the fairy tale world of Andalasia who finally found her Prince Charming in the kingdom of New York City. A Disney+ Original movie directed by Adam Shankman, produced by Barry Josephson, Barry Sonnenfeld, and Amy Adams.
REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Disenchanted features a strong story that is the natural answer to what comes after happily ever after, and with another wonderful performance from Amy Adams makes Disenchanted an enjoyable watch even if the songs in the film fail to capture that Disney magic.
Ever since Disenchanted was announced, I was ecstatic for this long awaited Disney sequel as Enchanted is one of my all time favourite Disney movies. I knew given the long time between the films and Amy Adams’s love for her character Giselle, that she would not agree to return to the role if the script wasn’t right. And after a long fifteen year wait in between films, Disenchanted finally arrives and it is a truly fun film. After getting her happily ever after, Giselle finds herself missing Andalasia, which prompts her and Robert to move to the suburbs to start a new chapter in their life together. But not even a fresh start can rekindle the happiness that Giselle once felt, leading her to wish for her life to be a perfect fairy-tale, which puts both the real world and Andalasia in grave danger.
The original film was all about deconstructing the classic Disney Princess tale, so the natural progression in that story is to go beyond the staple ending and explore what happily ever after really looks like. And the story does a wonderful job of capturing the honesty about love, that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but something you have to work for. Much like the original film, the screenplay flips the typical Disney Princess formula on its head. Giselle’s spell converts the real world and characters into their counterparts you would normally see in a Disney Princess film, turning Robert into a gallant hero out questing, Giselle into the evil stepmother, and Morgan into the young maiden trying to escape the prison created by her stepmother. It’s the perfect deconstruction of the genre, as the live action setting allows the characters to be exaggerated in an entertaining way. At the same time, the story unfortunately sidelines Robert, Nancy and Edward, making them supporting characters rather than the leads they were in the first film. Giselle and Morgan both get a great amount of attention in the screenplay, giving them both wonderful arcs over the film while Maya Rudolph’s Malvina has lots of fun scenes with Giselle throughout the film.
Once again, Adams is nothing short of magnificent as Giselle. Acting like no time has passed, Adams captures Giselle’s pure goodness and lights up the screen as she sings and dances her way through life. But with Giselle turning into an evil stepmother under the spell, Adams gets to explore new territory as one of the film’s villains. To say that Adams is devilishly fun as the villainous Giselle is an understatement. She chews up every sinister line with a sugar coated lethalness, switching between her scene stealing villain and the sweet and whole hearted Giselle that fans love in a single camera shot. It’s such a dynamic performance, that is without a doubt the highlight of the entire film.
Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden and Idina Menzel return as Robert, Edward and Nancy respectively, and it is clear that all of them are having a wonderful time reuniting with Adams and each other. They all give good performances, perfectly slipping back into character, even if they do not get the screen time they deserve. Gabriella Baldacchino is good as Morgan, capturing the emotional journey that Morgan goes on as she is left to save the day. Maya Rudolph is having a blast as Malvina, using her comedic talents to great effect to create this mischievous villain and is a great screen partner for Adams. The rest of the supporting cast is bursting with talent with Yvette Nicole Brown, Jayma Mays, James Monroe Iglehart, Oscar Nuñez, and Alan Tudyk, but they are left with cheap comedic relief moments that only land half of the time and their talents are not properly utilized.
Like the first film, the costumes and sets are stunning! It brings the fairy tale world of Andalasia to life in the real world with gorgeous crafted costumes and elaborate set decoration that turns the small Irish town where the film was shot into a real life fairy tale. And sprinkled throughout the set design and costumes are numerous references to past Disney animated films, continuing the first film’s homages to the films that this series pays tribute to.
However, the film falls apart in the musical department. My biggest requirement for a Disney Princess film is the music. Over the decades we have been treated to some of the most memorable songs in film from Disney films, such as “Beauty and the Beast”, “A Whole New World” and “Part of Your World”, and most of them from legendary composer and songwriter Alan Menken, who returns to write the songs for this film with Stephen Schwartz. The two of them created five brilliant and memorable songs for the first film, however the ten songs they wrote for this sequel fall flat. There is no denying that the cast sings them beautifully, the choreography for the musical numbers is outstanding, and that they help progress the story, but the songs themselves feel lifeless. The orchestrations from Menken are lush and elaborate, but the second each song finished, I immediately forgot the entire song. No lyrics, no melody, nothing stuck. Sure, Adams and Rudolph’s musical number “Badder” is a campy blast and listening to Menzel belt out “Love Power” was a treat, even if I don’t know what love power was. But none of the songs have any lasting effect, unlike every song from the first film which I left the theatre humming for hours on end. Had at least two or three of the songs been more memorable, Disenchanted would have been a great sequel, but unfortunately it remains only a commendable sequel to the original Disney classic.
I have never struggled producing a score for a review, because there was so much I enjoyed about Disenchanted and spending another film with these characters was an absolute treat. But the lacking songs really dampen the film’s potential by failing to deliver on one of the most critical elements of a Disney Princess film. Amy Adams gives yet another spectacular film that alone makes Disenchanted worth a watch, and while the rest of the cast is having fun that is completely infectious and will leave a big smile on your face, Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz’s songs are subpar that ultimately prevent Disenchanted from coming close to the gold standard set by Enchanted.
RATING: 3 out of 5