Back in 2007, I was a mere teenager when Enchanted was released, and like so many people who were introduced to Amy Adams' Giselle and the magical kingdom of Andalasia, I walked out of that theater with a new favorite Disney movie. The wait for a sequel has been a long one, and now that Disenchanted is finally here, I am relieved to report that it was worth the wait. While nothing will ever be able to capture the originality and charm of the first film, the sequel provided the perfect answer to that burning fairy tale question: What happens after "happily ever after?"
While it's been 15 years since Enchanted was released, less time has passed between films. We last saw Giselle falling in love with Patrick Dempsey's Robert Philip and choosing to stay in New York to start a new life with him and his six-year-old daughter, Morgan (originally played by Rachel Covey). Now, Morgan is a teen (played by Gabriella Baldacchino) and Giselle and Robert have a new baby. Like many growing families, they decide to leave the city and go to the suburbs where Giselle hopes life can be a little more like her days back in Andalasia. However, their new home isn't exactly what Giselle had envisioned, so she uses a wishing wand to make things more to her liking. In true fairy tale fashion, the wish backfires, which is bad for Giselle but a gift for the audience.
Amy Adams' beloved performance in Enchanted earned her a Golden Globe nomination back in 2008, and she returns to the role with delightful ease. Not only do fans get to see more of the perky princess-like Giselle, but the wish gone wrong gives Adams room to play a whole new side of the character. Unsurprisingly, the six-time Academy Award nominee nails the duality and brings a fresh perspective to the role we all know and love. Her biggest adversary in the film is Malvina (Maya Rudolph) and while no one can live up to the devilish demeanor of Susan Sarandon's Queen Narissa from Enchanted, Rudolph brings her famed comedic timing to the role and makes the Evil Queen stereotype her own.
Another bright spot in the film is newcomer Gabriella Baldacchino. Not only does she have immense vocal talent, but she adds nuance to Morgan. The character isn't happy about moving to the suburbs and she has that classic teenage angst, but it doesn't consume her like some of the teens you see in these types of stories. She still has empathy and cares for her family even when she's throwing out sarcasm that Giselle hilariously struggles to detect. The movie's casting department also deserves a big shoutout for finding someone who looks so much like the original Morgan. Covey presumably did not return to the role because she's too old to play a teen, but the original star does make a little appearance in the new movie. For a split second, I thought Morgan had multiplied until I remembered Covey had a cameo.
The biggest upset of Disenchanted is the lack of James Marsden as Prince Edward. His performance in the first movie rivals Adams when it comes to scene-stealing and every moment he does have in the sequel earned my biggest laughs. While we should be grateful we got Marsden at all, there are many scenes that could have been improved by Edward's goofy ignorance. During certain moments in the film, Dempsey is clearly trying to channel that Edward energy, but it's impossible to go up against Marsden's lovable magnetism. That's not to say Dempsey's role wasn't enjoyable. In fact, he had his own little side quests which worked much better than if they had tried to squeeze him into all of the main plot.
Disenchanted also righted the first movie's only wrong by letting Idina Menzel (Nancy) sing, as she is known for originating roles in some of Broadway's most popular musicals, including Rent and Wicked. Not only does she get a cute little duet with Marsden, but she sings the movie's big song, "Love Power," which has similar vibes to one of her most iconic songs, "Let It Go" from Frozen. In fact, most of the song is done in an animation sequence, which will surely make fans crave a Nancy/Elsa crossover. Just like the first film, the Andalasia scenes are done in 2D animation, and they do not disappoint.
While "Love Power" is likely the song you'll be hearing on the radio following Disenchated's release, there's another musical number that stands out as an instant Disney classic. Adams and Rudolph sing a duet called "Badder," which rivals some of the most iconic women-led Disney villain jams like The Little Mermaid's "Poor Unfortunate Souls" and Tangled's "Mother Knows Best." "Badder" also has the potential to join Aladdin's "A Whole New World" as a go-to Disney karaoke duet. Some of the other songs are a bit repetitive and there's no guarantee any will get stuck in your head as fast as the first movie's "That's How You Know," but the return of composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz will be an extremely welcome relief to musical lovers.
Many Enchanted fans are understandably upset that the movie is going straight to Disney+, yet it was probably the right call to skip the theatrical release. If you liked the first one, but aren't a fan of Disney or musicals, Disenchanted definitely isn't for you. The first movie was such an innovative, original ride while the sequel is just a fun, sweet time. However, if you're an Enchanted superfan or a general lover of all things Disney, the new movie won't disappoint. Even watching at home, seeing Adams play Giselle again instantly transported me back to that theater in 2007, and I couldn't help but feel that same swell of joy I felt as a teen. Disenchanted is pure magic and a must-see for Disney fans.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Disenchanted is now streaming on Disney+.