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The Disney+ sequel to "Enchanted" resurrects much of the musical magic that charmed audiences 15 years ago, while making it clear that real life isn't a fairy tale.
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The sequel to the beloved 2007 fantasy adventure, Disenchanted resurrects all the musical magic that originally enchanted (pun intended) audiences over a decade ago.
In her first adventure Giselle—played by Amy Adams—takes a tumble down a well-turned-portal that yanks her from her charming animated fairytale life and, with the help of an evil queen, lands her in none other than the harsh live action reality ridden New York City. Nevertheless she manages to find her footing, discover true love, and even live happily ever after with her new found family in the Big Apple.
Or so we thought. As its title implies, life for Giselle in the live action world has not been all it’s cracked up to be. Her problems are becoming too complex to be fixed by song alone; her now teenage step-daughter Morgan, played here by Gabrielle Baladacchino, has become moody and distant; and after a rough start to her family’s reluctant move to the suburbs, Gisselle is finally forced to come to the conclusion that real life isn’t a fairytale after all.
Although by no means perfect, Disenchanted does not disappoint as far as sequels go; especially so when compared to some of Disney’s other recent offerings.
Unlike many before it, Disenchanted manages to retain the essence of its predecessor and for the most part understands what made Enchanted work. Its creators seek to expand the original world and foster a natural extension of the storylines creating a cohesive narrative arch.
Moreover, while maintaining the heart of Enchanted and nodding at the timeless tropes found in numerous classic fairy tales, Disenchanted also succeeds at establishing its own unique identity. This is an essential element of any compelling follow up that can stand on its own two feet, and one that is often unfortunately absent in sequels to Disney’s most popular properties.
This continuation brings with it new additions to the original returning star studded cast. These include Maya Rudolph, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Jayma Mays, whose characters bring new antagonists into the mix to test the resolve of our former heroes against the evils of life in fairy dust sprinkled suburbia. The characters and the actors who portray them aren’t the only things that have grown and changed over time, as have the nuances of the real-world-meets-fairytale narrative.
One of the most compelling and entertaining aspects of Enchanted was the subtly self-aware undertone sprinkled throughout the characters’ actions and dialogue that gently poked fun at the stories on which they were based, without taking itself too seriously. Though a bit more heavy-handed in its approach, Disenchanted carries on this tradition. A good portion of the dialogue is riddled with ironic winks to the audience and sly smirks at the outdated ideas and overzealous nature of fairy tales, taking the film’s trademark self awareness to the next level.
Along with this updated approach to reviving the well known characters, the film does manage to introduce a somewhat intriguing plot that situates the beloved protagonist Giselle in the role of the villain as an unforeseen consequence of her hasty reaction to the challenges of reality. Disenchanted raises the stakes considerably by turning the premise of the original film on its head, as the fairy-tale world of Andalasia is brought into the real world.
Amy Adams revives her role well and does an exceedingly impressive job at molding the princess-adjacent personality of Giselle into a proper wicked stepmother without losing the character’s recognizable mannerisms or compromising the nuances of her original performance.
This film seems to be particularly intended for those who, like myself, were considerably younger when Enchanted was first released and are likely to be drawn in by the unexpected announcement of a sequel. The nostalgia created by this film is only amplified by the return of nearly the entire original cast, including Idina Menzel, Patrick Dempsey, and James Marsden, who revive their respective roles admirably and maintain a lighthearted chemistry with their fellow cast members.
It admittedly goes without saying that Disenchanted is inferior to its predecessor, as is the case with nearly all sequels. Unlike most of its contemporaries however, it is worth a watch if for no other reason than there are still great stories to be told in its world and there is still fun to be had in checking up on the characters that ventured outside the confines of fairy tale all those years ago.