Disney (sort of) enchants audience with anticipated sequel


Sandy Moncayo Cuji

Amy Adams reprises her role as Princess Giselle in the straight-to-streaming follow-up to the 2007 blockbuster hit “Enchanted”.

The Disney princess, as tried and true as this type of character is, had been long in need of a makeover, and back in fall of 2007, the company’s film studio provided it with “Enchanted” starring Amy Adams (“Arrival”) and directed by Kevin Lima (“A Goofy Movie”). In it, the Golden Globe nominee’s Giselle, a girl who lives in the animated village of Andalasia, gets transported into the real life world of New York City. Throughout the movie, Giselle’s definition of true love gets challenged when she arrives in the real world and goes on a journey in search of her “prince charming.” Its release received a lot of attention from the public, earning over 340.5 million dollars in box offices worldwide and receiving three Oscar nominations. It would come as no surprise that Disney would soon release a sequel to this smash hit, even if it took 15 years to happen.

Disney’s “Disenchanted” was recently sent straight to its streaming platform, Disney +. The story takes place 10 years later and has an interesting twist with Giselle and her family (consisting of her newborn daughter Sofia, as well as her husband Robert, played by Patrick Dempsey, and his daughter Morgan, played by Gabriella Baldacchino) moving from Manhattan to the small suburban town of Monroeville. Giselle then goes through a series of unexpected events that threaten both the real and animated world as well as her new family.

Upon hearing news of the sequel, fans were excited to see what “Hairspray” (2007) director Adam Shankman would do to give this alternatingly traditional and nostalgic movie a new edge. Unfortunately, the end result suggests that Disney was just trying to profit from that nostalgia it gave to viewers of the 2007 classic.

The movie starts as Giselle reminisces over her previous life in the world of Andalasia, wishing on a magic wand for her life to be turned into a fairy tale. To her surprise, the wish is taken literally and she gets turned into an evil stepmother and mistreats her stepdaughter Morgan. This portion of the movie seems to resemble the story of “Cinderella”, another one of Disney’s classics, but it comes off as a cheap way to attract viewers. While Disney staples from the 80s and 90s, like “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King”, have a certain depth to them, their sequels and remakes sadly rarely do. Most of them, such as “Frozen II” and “Monsters University” lack the creativity and nuance that the originals bring to the screen. “Disenchanted” seems to have fallen into this trend.

In addition to the stale story, the characters don’t resemble their personalities or behavior from the first movie either. Most egregiously, Morgan is portrayed as a self-absorbed teenager opposed to Giselle’s idea of moving and only cares about social media and the friends she’d be leaving behind. The writers, of which there are six compared to the single screenwriter of “Enchanted”, suggesting perhaps that there were too many cooks in the proverbial kitchen, were trying too hard on making a young and relatable character for the new audience. 

What’s most odd was her behavior towards Giselle. Throughout the movie, the two and Robert fight about her running away back to New York. As Giselle and Robert worry about Morgan, she gets frustrated with them, demanding that they should’ve never left New York for Monroeville. While fighting, she harshly tells Giselle, “My mother? She is not my mother. She’s my stepmother. That’s all she’ll ever be.” This is just one example of the new iteration of the character reflecting poorly on the sweet personality she had in the first movie (then portrayed by the precocious and adorable child actor Rachel Covey, who’s relegated to a cameo in the sequel), where she gets along with Giselle divinely, even going so far as to refer to her as a princess. The shift between her attitudes in the movies feels unnatural and frustrating.

Despite the writing of the characters and the plot, the movie’s songs, just like the first, are thrilling. Written by Disney mainstay Alan Menken (“Aladdin”) and featuring Broadway and “Frozen” sensation Idina Menzel’s vocals in the numbers “The Magic of Andalasia” (featuring James Mardsen, who shined in “Enchanted” but is sidelined here) and “Love Power”, since the first movie didn’t have Menzel singing at all (one of its only missteps, perhaps). The songs blend in perfectly with the otherwise undercooked story and give the film some much-needed flare.

All in all, one should keep in mind that this is a Disney movie that is meant to be light hearted and introduce the younger generation to another Disney classic or two. For anyone just looking for a fun time rather than hardcore Disney fanatics, the flaws in “Disenchanted” can be overlooked and the songs can still be enjoyed.