“Enchanted,” the 2007 Disney musical comedy in which Amy Adams played a goody-two-shoes princess who is exiled from her fairy-tale animated kingdom and transported to the live-action world of New York City, was one of the last really good fish-out-of-water comedies — a genre that kicked into gear in the ’80s with movies like “Splash” and “Back to the Future” and “‘Crocodile’ Dundee,” but that ultimately wore out its welcome. The beauty of “Enchanted” is that it was a Disney kids’ movie that turned everything people love about Disney kids’ movies into a luscious joke. Adams’ Giselle, who had cartoon birds flying around her and kept breaking into song, was too wholesome to be true, yet that was her appeal, her slightly ridiculous joy. The movie, in its very form, figured out a way to have its G-rated princess cake and eat it too.
The film made a kind of noble last stand for the whole idea of squeaky-clean girlish goodness. But it wasn’t until I saw “Disenchanted,” the sequel to “Enchanted” that’s coming out (exclusively on Disney+) 15 years later, that I realized just how far out of fashion this sort of thing has now fallen. What’s in fashion is regal nose-in-the-air imperiousness — the sort of operatic not-niceness that was becoming newly popular around the time of “Maleficent” (2014). And “Disenchanted,” leaving benevolence mostly on the shelf, gives you a heaping double dose of it.
The movie is set in the New York suburban town of Monroeville, where Giselle and her earthly Prince Charming, Robert (Patrick Dempsey), along with their baby girl and the teenage Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino) — Robert’s daughter from a previous marriage — have relocated in order to recapture their happily ever after (as so many urban-to-suburban transplants have tried to do). They buy a fixer-upper that looks like a small castle, but within days they’re suffering the suburban doldrums. So Giselle, seizing on the Wand of Wishes that’s been gifted to Morgan by the visiting King and Queen of Andalasia (James Marsden and Idina Menzel, gamely reviving their roles), uses the wand to turn all of Monroeville into a fairy-tale kingdom: the medieval suburban village of Monrolasia, all bursting fauna and dancing townsfolk. In doing this, she winds up putting a hex on herself. She is now that archetype of overgrown mean-girl attitude…the wicked stepmother!
But there’s another overgrown mean girl in town: the control-freak socialite Malvina (Maya Rudolph), who gets turned into an evil queen. Giselle, even in her transformed state, isn’t just mean. For a while, Adams plays her hovering between identities, so that every time Giselle drops a quip with an edge (usually something along the lines of “I’m not vain — I just look good in everything!”), she appears shocked at the line that just popped out of her mouth, something Adams plays with delectable surprise. But then the mean part starts to take over, and Giselle and Malvina go at each other as if competing to be the local Cruella de Vil.
One has to ask: How much fun is there in that? The fish-out-of-water hook is gone, as is Giselle’s identity as an overly nice specimen of a vanquished world. Obvious in its comedy, at once overblown and undernourished in its fantasy, “Disenchanted,” at times, is like a kiddified “Don’t Worry Darling” crossed with “Cinderella Strikes Back.” At others, it’s a light show in search of a movie. The visual effects are all swirling sparkles and sprouting vines, but the real problem is that the film has a pandering impersonality, along with the busy skewed logic of a metaverse. The songs, by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, are unmemorable — more generic Broadway than sparkly pop. And though Adams, in an electric blue dress with a peacock collar, acts duly liberated as the “bad” Giselle, it’s hard to know what we’re rooting for. Maya Rudolph keeps giving drop-dead looks of what-the-heck snob incredulity, which she’s great at, but you wish that she had more to do. By the time Idina Menzel belts out a ballad called “Love Power,” we realize that we couldn’t be more in awe of her pipes and couldn’t be less invested in the goofy scattershot story of “Disenchanted.”
Read More About:
Source: Read Full Article