• Nate Adams

'Disenchanted' review: Airless sequel doesn't capture 'Enchanted' magic

Courtesy of Disney+

 

2007’s “Enchanted” was a fun, delightful spoof of the classic Disney princess formula where Giselle (played by Amy Adams), ventured from her cartoon world of Andalasia into the busy streets of New York City. It had catchy songs, a cast that was undeniably part of the joke, and an overall sense of playfulness which now gets relegated to streaming service fodder. “Enchanted” was critically and commercially successful through a sequel never materialized, but, again, these studios need to fill their streaming coffers, so it’s no surprise the less-than-magical follow-up “Disenchanted” is landing on Disney+. 


The 14 year gap is certainly felt in Adam Shankman’s “Disenchanted,” an airless, money hungry sequel that can barely replicate a silver of the charm and wit of its predecessor. Rather than showcase how Giselle has learned to adapt in the real world, it instead rehashes the same plot as “Enchanted” except, in this iteration, the princess, now a suburban housewife, accidently puts a hex on herself and evolves into an evil stepmother. This forces Adams to play both sides of the aisle in a Jekell & Hyde dual performance alongside returning co-star Patrick Dempsy. If you’ll remember correctly, the reason “Enchanted” worked as well as it did was because Adams’ Giselle was charming and nice. Here, she’s anything but. 


In addition to Adams and Dempsy, “Disenchanted” brings back Idina Menzel and James Marsden’s King Edward and Queen Nancy and introduces Maya Rudolph’s sniveling Malvina, and Gabriella Baldacchino’s angsty step-daughter Morgan. Collectively, they try making sense of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz’s unmemorable catalog of songs that sparkle with about the same energy as a Disney Channel series. “Enchanted” had songs that stood the test of time - “True Love’s Kiss,” “Happy Working Song,” and the flash-mob trifecta “That’s How You Know.” On first pass, I probably couldn’t recite a single lyric this go-around with the melodies and rhythms knocking off Disney’s own IP, including a shameless reference to “Frozen.” What can you do?


The nostalgia of seeing Adams in one of her star-making characters does little to move the needle, especially as herself, Marsden, Menzel and Dempsy seem disconnected from the entire movie (they also have minimal screen time and are stuck doing boring side quests). Such is the world we live in where everything and anything is ripe for regurgitation with “Disenchanted” being the latest victim in a long line of disjointed follow-ups that forgets why audiences fell in love with it in the first place. It also sucks to know, there’s no way this will be the last. 


Grade: C- 


DISENCHANTED is now streaming on Disney+