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Review: Disenchanted (2022)

Disenchanted (2022)

Directed by: Adam Shankman

Premise: A sequel to 2007’s Enchanted. Picking up the story fifteen years later, Giselle (Amy Adams) has made a family with Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and faces the challenges of raising a teenage daughter (Gabriella Baldacchino). Giselle casts a spell that merges her world with a fairytale and yields unexpected results.

What Works: The original Enchanted did not suggest a sequel but the filmmakers have found a worthwhile angle. Giselle has settled into a family life in the real world and now she is frustrated that life doesn’t match her expectations. This isn’t the same movie over again and Disenchanted finds a new way forward. Disenchanted improves significantly in its second half. The filmmaking gets noticeably better and the musical set piece “Badder” is the highlight of the film. Amy Adams returns in the role of Giselle and she continues to impress. As a side effect of her spell, Giselle gradually turns into a wicked stepmother and Adams alternates between sweetness and wickedness.

What Doesn’t: Disenchanted is built on a worthwhile idea, nodding at mid-life crises and the way life sometimes fails to live up to our expectations, but the story doesn’t do anything creative or interesting with the premise. Shrek Forever After (the only good sequel in that series) dramatized the same idea and did it better. There is remarkably little substance to this movie which is evident in all the supporting characters who have nothing to do. Robert is sent off on a series of random side quests but he doesn’t grow as a character and neither does his daughter. Disenchanted brings back James Marsden and Idina Menzel as Edward and Nancy in little more than glorified cameos. They have no impact on the story and could be cut from the movie without changing anything. The shallow character work may be partly attributed to a story world that doesn’t make internal sense. Giselle’s wish transforms everyone into cartoonish versions of themselves with no memory of their real life. As a result, the first act of the story is disconnected from everything after it; the characters introduced at the beginning of the movie are not the same people struggling throughout the middle of it. As a production, Disenchanted is mediocre. The sets look like Disney World attractions, most songs are uninspired (“Love Power” rips off “Let it Go” from Frozen), and the musical set pieces are limply choreographed. The sequel also lacks the charm of the original. Enchanted sent up Disney princess clichés in a way that was playful but earnest. The follow up has none of that inspiration. It’s just going through the motions.

Disc extras: Available on Disney+.

Bottom Line: Disenchanted is a disappointing sequel. The filmmakers have come up with an interesting concept but it is riddled with logical inconsistencies, bad storytelling, and occasionally shoddy filmmaking.