Disenchanted (2022) Review.  

The first Enchanted is a film that really should not work. The shortest possible pitch of “What if Shrek was earnest?” sounds like something that should have been tried and failed after the DreamWorks juggernaut was released in 2001. Critically well before Disney’s response during the 2007 holiday season. Yet it’s one of those lightning-in-a-bottle projects where everyone involved knows the assignment and tone they’re working with. They also know how to execute what is effectively a one-joke premise to the best of their abilities. Add to this one of the best mainstream breakout performances this writer can remember from Amy Adams in a role she was born to play. Two of the three Menkin and musical numbers are incredibly memetic Disney earworms and one has a substantial mouse house cult favourite. This author has always wondered what they might do with the sequel that sat in development hell for years. Pretty much exclusively for the novelty of seeing Amy Adams please Gisele once again.

With the emergence of Disney + and our corporate overlords strip-mining every potential piece of Potentially saleable the sequel was finally able to get off the ground. Quite honestly this was one of this viewer’s most anticipated films of 2022. Not because he expected it in any way to be good. Disney + is mostly where the company farms out the complete garbage it doesn’t want viewers to see. This author and admitted fan just wanted to see the cast in these roles and if they still had it all these years later. Thankfully all the major players were returning in some capacity.

The sequel landed with something of a thud over the US Thanksgiving weekend this viewer and admitted fan became incredibly nervous that Disney was about to break his heart. If we have to live in a world where everything must be equalised the mere prospect of Enchanted coming back with the original cast would rank very high on this viewer’s list of material he would want to see. Nevertheless still want to give the film a chance with some level of trepidation. how is it?
Honestly. Nothing great but not as bad as you might expect. Maybe it’s because the creative team here were able to maintain some of that chemistry all these years later. Perhaps it’s because there’s enough central commitment to the obvious flip on the original one-joke premise. More likely it’s because having seen the depths of how Disney + regularly scrape (Artemis Fowl, Secret Society of Second Born Royals, Sneakerella, The Ice Age Adventures Of Buck Wild and the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid animated movies all say Hi. Base level Enchanted by comparison remains perfectly fine for exactly what it set out to be. Story wise it takes the route you might expect. 15 years after she emerged from the portal to New York Gisele, Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and a re-cast Morgan move out from New York to the suburbs. However, this is not the life Gisele wants and through a series of circumstances and teen angst driving a wage between her and her stepdaughter, she wishes for a spell that ends up turning her into the evil stepmother within a Cinderella narrative. There are two immediate red flags here. Taking the story out of New York was one given how tight the original is to offer it’s a very fantastical perspective on the Big Apple. This very quickly becomes less of an issue as the narrative starts to unfurl. It might not capture the same spontaneity as the original but the soul and tone are very much still here even in the new location. The potential problem area is the teen angst element. Given how Disney productions typically write teenagers in the most cliche way possible it might be safe to expect that here. the angst signed in the story is very much a key driver of the main plot. That said there’s just enough of it to fulfil this role without it necessarily getting massively overbearing. Or going full Disney Channel Original Movie on itself. the major new element the sequel brings to the table is that Pip the chipmunk now has a full speaking role. This is provided by Grifin Newman in full Blank Check ” five comedy points” mode with a requisite silly voice. It’s perfectly fine for this variety of distinct shtick-based Disney sidekicks. The kind of thing that he and David Sims knock out in their sleep for a podcast audience in the tens of thousands per week despite 70% of the content being tangents. Needless to say, there are hundreds of free hours available of Newman delivering pretty much exactly this vocal performance.

The rest cast thankfully steps into their roles 15 years later with no difficulty whatsoever. One can tell there was some compensation and rewriting based on how logistically available the cast outside of the core family was. Patrick Dempsey is essentially flipped into the James Marston role in the most obvious example. The latter only has a couple of scenes. Thankfully the one performer to which this applies the most effectively is Amy Adams. she slides back into her sstar-makingrole with a level of comfort that comes across in her performance It’s one of those instances of a genuinely perfect match between actor and character.

The one element the sequel can’t subvert into acceptable is the new songs. Menkin and Schwartz do return here but they seem decidedly on autopilot for the entire project. proverbially stuck at a 5/10 with no means of getting beyond that. The original film may only have three musical numbers with this sequel being a full musical but that doesn’t mean any of the new songs are memorable in any way. That said having also seen Spirited by the time of writing this review workmanlike Menkin and Schwarz is a lot more tolerable than autopilot Pesek and Paul but this is the very definition of damning with faint praise.

Disenchanted is a perfectly acceptable legacy sequel. In a lot of ways it’s not the disaster, it might have been. The cast still has enough creative energy to get by with enough commitment to the flip of the original one-joke premise to mostly be a fun enough time. given how long this first sequel took to magicking itself into existence with this final results it’s hard not to think that any greater attempts to expand this series will result in further diminishing returns outside of Amy Adams. That said given how barrel-scraping garbage Disney + puts out every week this could have been worse. if one will forgive him this reviewer is just about to question his sanity by putting on the first in what is sure to be a yearly line of Diary Of A Wimpy Kid animated sequels.

6/10

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