DISENCHANTED. What happens after “happily ever after”?
Production of the sequel to Enchanted (2007) began in 2010, but the project went into so-called development hell for many years. Fifteen years after the release of the first part, we can finally see the results of this overly long production process. Was it worth waiting so long for the next installment of the adventures of Giselle, the lovely princess?
In Enchanted, Giselle (Amy Adams) is a red-haired beauty living in the animated kingdom of Andalasia who is about to marry handsome Prince Edward (James Marsden). However, for fear of losing her throne, his stepmother Narissa (voiced by Susan Sarandon) wants to get rid of the girl and throws her into a well on her way to the wedding. At its other end, however, is the real world of people. Giselle is magically transformed into a living person and lands in Times Square, right in the middle of New York City. Completely lost, she wanders around the city until she comes across Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a divorce attorney, and his daughter Morgan (Rachel Covey). The man lets her spend the night in his apartment. Giselle is completely detached from reality and unaware of the laws governing the world in which she finds herself. Her carefree nature, innocence and enthusiastic optimism eventually begin to attract the rational Robert, and Giselle begins to mature and see the advantages of living in a non-obvious, multidimensional world. She decides not to marry the prince, and instead – to marry Robert.
Disenchanted depicts Giselle’s life ten years later. She is still with Robert and together they have lived to see their child, a daughter named Sofia. Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino) is already a rebellious teenager who wants to live her own way. Giselle’s desire is to live outside the city, so the whole family moves to the suburbs, to idyllic Monroeville. However, the change brings more inconveniences than advantages – Robert is overtired by the long commute to work in the city, their new house needs major renovation, and Morgan can’t find herself in the new school. Frustrated, Giselle wants to fix her family’s life and uses a magic wand to make a wish – to make their life like a fairy tale. “Be careful what you wish for” the well-known saying goes, and in this case it comes true. Giselle’s life becomes a fairy tale with all its positive and negative aspects, and over time it spirals out of control.
Let me start by saying that the sequel to Enchanted does not seem at all like a natural continuation of the adventures of the former princess-turned-mortal, but is rather a separate creation, a film detached from the first part, based only on the framework of the original. Although there is a lot of action in it, the film limps along scripturally, mainly in terms of character creation. Morgan is a stereotypical, disgruntled and sarcastic teenager, and little Sofia is practically non-existent on screen and plays no role in the film’s plot. The filmmakers also devote no time to King Edward and Queen Nancy (Idina Menzel), who return in the sequel. One of the few highlights of the film, of course, are the stunning costumes and sets. Amy Adams is perfect as Giselle, and Maya Rudolph in her new role as Malvina, the snobbish, self-serving queen of the town, is a good addition.
Disappointingly, it lacks the magic and claw of the original. In 2007, Disney released such films as Ratatouille, the studio’s animated hit, and the acclaimed Bridge to Terabithia. It was well known by now that iconic animated features such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid were a thing of the past, and the format of the fairy tale princess story needed to be revamped. Before such modern, contemporary royals as Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, Rapunzel from Tangled or Merida from Brave came into the Disney universe, there was Giselle.
The main character of Enchanted, a combination of classic animation and live action, played by Amy Adams, stands at a crossroads between the past and the future, between the sweet, fairy-tale world of Disney and the cynical, real reality of Manhattan. The film has no shortage of references to previous animated princesses (which, in the sequel, can be overwhelming), and Giselle herself is a combination of Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. The filmmakers were aware of the need for transformation in the world of Disney’s classic fairy tales, so they humorously parodied the princesses’ naiveté, their unadulterated optimism and their idyllic vision of love. Enchanted was thus a self-aware film with a message, something the sequel lacks.
Disenchanted is a typical Disney production. The film lacks originality, because at the end it becomes just a conglomeration of established tropes and schemes we know very well from other Disney films. In a word – Disenchanted unfortunately disappoints.