Disney+ has been responsible for a lot of sequels we never thought we’d see finally becoming a reality, and Disenchanted is undeniably one of the most anticipated as the love for 2007’s Enchanted grows more fondly each year that passes. It also helps that since 2007, Amy Adams has only evolved into an even more talented actress who charms in any role she steps into; so fifteen-years later seems like an appropriate amount of time to visit Giselle again! The film follows Giselle (Amy Adams) and Robert (Patrick Dempsey) as they try to continue their happily ever after. They undeniably still love each other and have created a bright life for one-another, but Giselle is very much coming to terms with the less-than-magical reality of the world today; between living in an apartment in a busy city or raising a teenager with their daughter Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino) and the arrival of their new baby Sofia. This leads Giselle to wanting change for everyone’s sake, and to potentially add magic back into their lives, as they move from New York City to the suburbs of Monroeville. As Giselle settles into Monroeville and meets the self-proclaimed queen of the town Malvina (Maya Rudolph), she realizes there is more to this feeling than just a change of setting. I don’t want to spoil what happens from there, because I avoided trailers for it and I think the film operates a bit better if you don’t know the basic set-up.
All of this feels like a really solid set-up for an Enchanted sequel, and for the most part Disenchanted is completely harmless and entertaining enough that Disney will likely please most fans of the original. Undeniably, the cast here is as equally fantastic as they were back in 2007 – Amy Adams continues to impress, reaffirming Giselle as one of the most delightful Disney characters to date. Also like in the last film, James Marsden as King Edward is a definite comedic highlight this time around, even if his screentime isn’t as large this time around. A lot of these pluses compile together to make me confused as to why I feel lukewarm on the film as a whole; because so many parts that work in the original also work here. Is there a novelty to the original that is simple worn out? Or is it because it feels a bit too familiar to other long-awaited sequels? At it’s best, Disenchanted is a decent return to these characters that will provide entertainment for the whole family.. but at it’s worst, it’s showing the cracks and blueprint model of these Disney+ sequels.
One thing that doesn’t really work here are a lot of the central conflicts – while the drama between Giselle and her family is mostly fine, it falls short of being genuinely effective. When reality came crashing down on Giselle in the original film, it felt really heartbreaking because you knew how much she believed in the good of humanity. Here – it feels completely recycled and far-less authentic than everything conveyed in the first film. It also doesn’t help that the production value has seemingly been cut in half, as the musical numbers and sets all feel entirely less-impressive this time around. I’m aware we should give streaming movies slack in this arena, but having watched Glass Onion recently and being blown away by it, I don’t think there’s a very valid excuse to not at-least match the original in terms of budget and visual style.
None of these factors are inherently detrimental to the final product on display. Like I said before, I think the film barely gets by on the songs being “fine” and it being amusing enough; it’s just a little depressing because I think the original Enchanted does genuinely hold up all these years later; it’s a film that I rewatched over the pandemic, and found a lot of joy in. I definitely did have a bit of enjoyment getting to see these characters again and dip back into the world, and I think there’s a darker angle here that I appreciate and wish was explored more – but for me, Disenchanted is yet another legacy sequel that feels harmless, but mostly serves to remind you of how much better the original is in nearly every category. A true mixed-bag.