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‘Disenchanted’ Review: A Reminder that Most Sequels Cannot Live Up to Originals

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Editor’s Note: This review contains spoilers for “Disenchanted.”

“Disenchanted” — the sequel to the 2007 movie “Enchanted” — premiered on Disney+ on Nov. 18. The film follows Giselle (Amy Adams) and her new life ten years after the events of the first film. She convinces her family to move to the suburbs yearning for a home similar to Andalasia after being dissatisfied for years with the fast-paced culture in New York City. Who knew the characters of the film wouldn’t be the only ones disappointed with this less enchanting feature? 

15 years after its predecessor hit the screen, the sequel maintains the same cast who are just as talented as before, but the storyline hinders their characters from shining as they once did. 

The transition from city life to suburbia turned out to be more difficult than they expected. Because of this, Giselle decides to make a wish from a wand gifted by Edward (James Marsden) and Nancy (Idina Menzel), but it ultimately turns their life upside down. Through the wish, each character embodied a different persona — an intriguing concept with an unsatisfying plot. 

The majority of the cast reprise their roles with Maya Rudolph and Gabriella Baldacchino being the newest members. Rudolph plays Malvina, the head council member of the town, Monroeville, that Giselle and her family move to. On the other hand, Baldacchino replaced Rachel Convey in the role of Morgan, Robert’s (Patrick Dempsey) teenage daughter. It has not been revealed yet why Convey was recast, but she makes a quick cameo as a villager with a couple of lines.

Each character is given a chance to sing and dance throughout the film, with some even receiving their own solo. Menzel awed viewers with her outstanding, Broadway vocals in ‘Love Power.’ Compared to the previous film, she had a more prominent presence by being the voice of reason in the midst of antics.

Photo from New York Post

Even Dempsey had a chance to dabble in performing after his character distinctly abstained from doing so in “Enchanted.” If anything, his personality was a complete contrast to how it used to be — exemplifying the powerful effects of love. However, Dempsey’s cynical remarks were surely missed as they added irreplaceable humor this film needed. 

Adams was a lot more reserved in Giselle’s enthusiastic mannerisms in the sequel. Rather, the script called for her to tap into a wicked alter ego while Giselle was under a curse. As the film progressed, Giselle began to take on a villainous temperament a fairytale stepmother would have. Although Adams’ performance was engaging, this was completely unnecessary. As stated in the film, “there can only ever be one villain,” which Malvina was supposed to be. While this fight for power between both ladies added conflict and a musical opportunity, Giselle’s lovable personality is what captivated audiences in the first place. Her transition from good to bad, to good again could’ve been explored more. 

Likewise, Edward (Marsden) was uncharacteristically calm. As the King of Andalasia, there was newfound wisdom in his demeanor with only snippets of silliness sprinkled occasionally. Understandably, the characters were meant to demonstrate growth in the areas they were lacking. However, you can’t diminish the traits that made them special before and expect the same reception. Viewers enjoyed Robert’s quips and Edward’s dim-witted actions — no one wanted the opposite. 

The actors tried their best to work with what was required of them, but it felt like there was more we could’ve seen of their talents if they were given the chance. The songs were not nearly as catchy as “Happy Working Song” or “That’s How You Know,” both of which were rightfully nominated for an Oscar in 2008. 

Photo from New York Post

“Disenchanted” contains more songs, but quality is more important than quantity. Part of the problem might be that the film does not have one song that represents it. Because so many of the songs are sung more than once, it became difficult to understand which one was the star. The tunes in “Enchanted” are equally appealing, but “True Love’s Kiss” symbolizes Giselle’s pure desire for a storybook love she eventually receives in the resolution. Yet, the sequel has too many songs that prevent one from being an encapsulation of the movie.  

If this was a standalone feature, the issues in this film would not be as apparent. As a matter of fact, there probably wouldn’t be any issues at all. Because this is a continuation of a beloved classic, it’s a hard act to follow. “Disenchanted” has been in the works for years now, but it took a while to develop due to script disagreements, according to Dempsey in 2021. Perhaps it would have been best if it stayed in deliberation as something still felt missing. The movie definitely had fun moments, but “Disenchanted” does not have an authentic magical charm to call its own. 

There’s no point in comparing apples to oranges, as there is no competition at all regarding which movie succeeds in entertaining more. There was too much of a focus on fairytale tropes, and not enough interaction between the modern world for a unique outcome. “Disenchanted” is likable for sure, but not nearly as loveable as it does not meet the expectations of adoring fans. 

Julissa Ramirez is an Arts & Entertainment Intern for the fall 2022 quarter. She can be reached at julisscr@uci.edu.