[Screen It]


(2022) (Amy Adams, Gabriella Baldacchino) (PG)

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Musical/Comedy: A former animated princess who now unhappily lives in the real world must contend with the ripple effect of using magic to turn her, her family, and their entire suburban town into a real-life fairy tale.

Fifteen years ago, Giselle (AMY ADAMS) was a pretty princess in the animated fairytale land of Andalasia who dreamed of meeting a handsome prince and living happily ever after. Instead, she ended up in modern-day New York City where she met, fell in love with, and married divorce lawyer Robert (PATRICK DEMPSEY).

Yet, life is anything but a fairy tale, what with Robert's daughter, Morgan (GABRIELLA BALDACCHINO), now being a moody teenager, while Giselle and Robert are exhausted after welcoming a new addition to the family, young daughter Sofia (MILA & LARA JACKSON).

Accordingly, and hoping for a fresh start at a fairy tale life, the family moves to a fixer-upper in the suburban community of Monroeville where Morgan is anything but happy. The only person at her new school who's nice to her is Tyson (KOLTON STEWART), the handsome teenage son of Malvina Monroe (MAYA RUDOLPH), who fashions herself the queen of that town.

When Robert's ex-girlfriend, Nancy (IDINA MANZEL), and her husband, Edward (JAMES MARSDEN), show up from Andalasia to give Sofia a wishing wand gift, Giselle decides to use it for herself to turn her, her family, and the entire town into a real-life fairy tale. But she doesn't anticipate the ripple effect that follows and jeopardizes her dream of living happily ever after.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10

Back when I was growing up in the '60s and '70s, and certainly in the decades before that, most married women who had children were stay-at-home moms. They tended to the kids and household duties, while the dads worked as the primary breadwinner. It's no surprise then that many young girls growing up in that bygone era had the now antiquated belief that they'd have to find a man to take care of them.

Accordingly, most also likely bought into the similar trappings of fairy tales where the handsome prince would care and provide for them and that once they landed such a man, they'd live happily ever after. Conversely, I doubt many boys aspired for the HEA effect, what with being wired differently in the first place ("Emotions? Yuck!") and not ever seeing themselves as the prince or knight in shining armor.

What with subsequent changes in societal norms and expectations, most moms now in the workplace, and fairy tales not being as popular as they once were, I wonder how many young girls nowadays long for "happily ever after." I'm guessing it's a substantial drop from the past, but in any event, any who did want that in either era group likely learned the hard way through real life that HEA is far more likely a fairy tale creation than a reality.

That's part of the story gist fueling "Disenchanted," the long-gestating sequel to 2007's "Enchanted" where Amy Adams played the live-action version of a princess who grew up in an animated fairytale land only to end up in the very real, flesh and blood version of modern-day New York City. She eventually met her Prince Charming -- divorce lawyer Robert (Patrick Dempsey) -- and things seemed all set for her story to play out in the desired "happily ever after" fashion.

Flashforward fifteen years, though, and her one-time adorable stepdaughter Morgan is now a moody teen (played by Gabriella Baldacchino), while the introduction of a new child means countless sleepless nights and long-abandoned notions and dreams of a HEA existence. Accordingly, and realizing their existence is about as far removed from a fairy tale as things can get, Giselle convinces Robert to move out of the city to the seemingly idyllic suburban town of Monroeville.

Yet, their existence there is anything but that, what with their new home being a fixer-upper, Morgan isn't pleased with her new life and new school, and the town comes with an alpha female, wannabe queen in the form of Malvina Monroe (Maya Rudolph). Thus, when old friends from Andalasia (Idina Menzel and James Marsden) show up with a wishing wand gift for the new family addition, Giselle uses it for herself, wishing for a fairy tale life and yes, a heaping dose of HEA.

When she wakes up the next morning, everyone is still in live-action mode, but they're all acting like their usual cartoon counterparts, and then things start to play out in ways Giselle should have expected, but obviously didn't. And then it's a race against time - natch, the stroke of midnight - to set things right before everything becomes permanent.

It's possible young kids will enjoy the offering - from director Adam Shankman and writer Brigitte Hales - but fans of the original will be hard-pressed to have a similar reaction as everything feels rather mundane. That includes the various songs that - save for a rivalry duet between Adams and Rudolph's characters - are unremarkable and thus few if any viewers will need to worry about them becoming musical earworms.

Like the original (which I only marginally liked), this one doesn't go far enough in putting a spin on (let alone subverting) the norms of the genre. I found myself fairly bored and thus waiting for my happily ever after - the roll of the end credits - to show up. "Disenchanted" rates as a 4 out of 10.

Posted November 18, 2022

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