One of the weirdest releases to come out in 2022 was Disney’s much-anticipated sequel to their 2007 hit, ‘Enchanted‘. It’s a movie that while successful in its own time, it grew even more and gained a larger following through the years. Fans had been chanting for a sequel for years and when Disney finally announced it, it seemed like everyone lost interest. From a lack of good promotion down to the very odd fact that it’s a Disney+ original and not a theatrical release, it seemed like ‘Disenchanted‘ wasn’t destined to be this grand sequel fans had hoped for but more of a disappointing reunion that wasn’t really planned all that well. Despite the original cast all coming back and putting their entire souls into this sequel, nothing can save it from being an overly long, predictable and at times downright annoying two hours that you’ll regret watching by the end. Disenchanted truly is the word indeed.
spoilers for ‘Disenchanted‘ are featured in this review.
When it comes to ‘Enchanted‘, my connection or nostalgia for it isn’t really as strong as it is with some fans. I remember everyone talking about it when it came out and that the following year, our school showed it to us but I didn’t really get it. I was six years old. Seeing as how I don’t remember a single thing from the first movie, I decided to revisit it or rather truly watch it for the first time and I felt a variety of emotions. Aside from a ton of questionable choices, the concept shines brightly thanks to a wonderful cast led by the wonderful Amy Adams and it’s one of the very few live-action Disney movies that carries the same magic that an animated hit would. That being said, while it had lots of great callbacks and references to animated Disney classics including cameos from Jodi Benson and Paige O’Hara, it felt awfully weird watching a Disney movie and thinking “Maybe I’m too old for this.” It’s one of the movies that I would’ve been obsessed with as a child but I didn’t grow up with it at the right time so now it’s just this quaint movie. Most of Disney’s greatest work transcends the age limit and touches the viewer no matter how old they are. Think of ‘Mary Poppins’ or ‘Beauty and the Beast’, movies that have been beloved for decades and will continue to be passed down to future generations. ‘Enchanted‘ was never quite like that, it was made for fun and there is nothing wrong with that but the truth is, a sequel truly wasn’t necessary, especially when it’s made by people who don’t understand the appeal of the first movie.
When I think of ‘Enchanted‘, I think of that one shot with live-action Giselle coming out of that manhole and behind her is Times Square, New York in all of its modern glory. That to me is the entire selling point of the movie. With ‘Disenchanted’ we more or less repeat the same story but without the fun modern twist, it is just another fairytale mashup movie and at this point, we’ve seen our fair share of them and most of them are better. Comparing it to something like ‘Into The Woods’ or even ‘Once Upon a Time’, this movie is just bizarrely not interested in saying something new about these fairytales. The references here are used in the same way the movie they derived them from did. There isn’t anything new being created other than Amy Adams’ wonderful performance but a movie this grand cannot rely solely on one performance for it to work. The logic that it uses and the way things unravel, it reminded me a bit too much of another lesser sequel, ‘Frozen II’. Patrick Dempsey is as useful as Kristoff as both wander off. Idina Menzel has the best musical number in both and the logic is never truly sensible. Only in that movie, the plot made sense most of the time. It felt like they were making it up as they went along just how like they sing about in the first movie. It’s predictable, less fun and for its runtime, just exhausting to sit through. I was genuinely shocked that this wasn’t a theatrical release but after seeing it, I completely understand. The sets are gorgeous and the costumes pretty but the plot is so uneven in quality that it does end up bringing the entire level of quality down.
That being said, while the movie is ultimately disappointing, it does have a few redeeming qualities but even then, they’re not as good as they could’ve been. It is just odd, this entire movie is odd. With this new wave of streaming movies, it is genuinely odd to have this product that is not as cheaply made as a regular TV movie but it’s not as professionally made as a theatre release, it just sits in this very weird grey area. Think about the recent ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ or the live-action ‘Pinocchio‘, these are movies that are made for the single moment they drop and then no one ever really talks about them again. They aren’t made to last and with ‘Disenchanted’ it’s arguably the worst case of all because when comparing it to the very cinematic first movie, this one just feels off. It’s the complete opposite of the ‘High School Musical’ movies where instead of the quality getting better with each movie, here it got worse. As mentioned, the set design is undeniably beautiful, the costumes are gorgeous and the cast slips back into their roles perfectly. It’s moreso the script and the lack of a cohesive plot that hurts the movie. Even the musical numbers don’t feel particularly memorable. They look whimsical and the choreography is great but I cannot tell you what most of the songs sound like. There are two exceptions though, ‘Badder’, a classic Disney Villain theme song which is a very energetic moment in the film thanks to Adams and Maya Rudolph. The second is ‘Love Power’ sung by Idina Menzel who lends her powerful vocals to a crucial part in the film which gets thrown away in an anti-climactic way a few minutes after. Alan Menken returns and creates a sweeping melody but as far as his Disney resume is concerned, this isn’t the best of the best. It’s very much a song that needs to get a job done and it does so quite effectively but there’s not much to it.
Overall, seeing the amount of money thrown at ‘Disenchanted‘, I couldn’t help but wonder how much better it would’ve been if they had just made an original movie and used that great 2D animation for something new. Seeing ‘Enchanted‘ and ‘Disenchanted‘ back to back really does make their difference quite obvious. I didn’t really see anyone talk about this movie when it came out and I highly doubt it will find an audience later on because we’re not in an age where that can happen especially with streaming movies. It never quite justifies its existence but for what it’s worth, the cast looked like they had fun.
‘Disenchanted‘ is now streaming on Disney+.