Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Saturday, March 02, 2024 — Houston, TX

Review: ‘Disenchanted’ fails to rekindle the original’s magic

Photo courtesy Disney+

By Claudia Lin     11/29/22 11:33pm

Rating: ★★

What happens after happily ever after?

Fifteen years after Giselle’s fairytale ending, the princess returns to Andalasia to finally answer this question with the long-awaited sequel “Disenchanted,” released Nov. 16 on Disney+. But, even with the return of fan-favorite stars like Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey, it was still not enough to conjure up another satisfying ending for the franchise. 

I still remember my 14-year-old self in complete awe as “Ever Ever After” by Carrie Underwood played and the end credit scenes of “Enchanted” rolled. Everything about the film was perfect: its unique twist on fairy tales, the comedic relief brought by the unlikely combination of magical animated scenes and the mundane New York City setting and the stunning soundtrack with classic hits like “That’s How You Know.”

However, the magic I experienced in the second film was nowhere near the original. With an uninspiring plot, lousy character building and a repetitive soundtrack, I am unfortunately disenchanted with “Disenchanted.” 

The story follows Giselle (Amy Adams) and Robert (Patrick Dempsey) after their original happily ever after as they navigate their complicated married life while raising Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino), Robert’s daughter, and Sofia (Mila Jackson), their baby. When Giselle becomes discontented with the hustle and bustle of New York City, the couple decides to move to the suburbs in Monroeville where Giselle hopes to find a fresh start.

Even in suburbia, Giselle struggles to bond with Morgan because she is now a teenager, and the rose-colored glasses Morgan used to view life with have slowly faded. With the help of a magic wishing wand, Giselle uses it to wish her life was a fairytale, but even this eventually spirals out of control. 

While Adams’s acting was superb, it was not enough to overshadow the fact that many crucial characters were severely underwritten because the plot focused on Giselle’s rivalry with Malvina Monroe (Maya Rudolph), the town’s queen figure. Favored characters like Prince Edward (James Marsden) and Nancy (Idina Menzel) returned, but only for a few scenes. However, their brief appearances were some of the movie’s redeeming moments — for instance, Marsden never fails to make audiences smile with his comedic portrayal of the prince. 

The plot also focuses excessively on people as fairytale characters rather than on developing authentic relationships. The chemistry between Giselle and Robert was disappointing, and Robert’s role was only the “ambitious hero” in the fairytale world Giselle wished for. The time spent developing Malvina as a secondary villain also could have been more effectively used to feature more fan favorites. 

While the soundtrack was lackluster, certain songs held emotional value because of the scene that accompanied them. For example, when Morgan revisited her memories on Giselle’s memory tree, the scene featured Menzel’s powerhouse vocals in her song “Love Power.” 

Although there were minimal scenes that delivered this kind of emotional power, a unique feature of the film was its ability to pull inspiration from famous fairytales to recreate its own. Morgan’s ragged dress transforming into a ball gown was inspired by “Cinderella,” and the scene with dancing and singing kitchenware was drawn from “Beauty and the Beast.” 

Aside from these small wins, I cannot deny that I desperately wanted the Andalasian wishing wand solely so I could wish this movie never existed. After all, there is no good sequel to happily ever after. 

More from The Rice Thresher

A&E 2/27/24 11:01pm
Chaus launches new art gallery

Coffeehouse unveiled new art lining the walls of their cafe space on Feb. 18, featuring student artists and photographers. The project is helmed by keepers of coffee Caroline Leung and Kate Hilton, who lead a committee called “Espresso Yourself” that aims to highlight student creativity and art.

A&E 2/27/24 10:47pm
With ‘Practices of Attention,’ Rice students explore capitalist ruins

Anyone who has walked through Sewall Hall in the past couple months has inevitably seen the words “ARTS 477: Practices of Attention in Capitalist Ruins” written in big, bold lettering on flyers displayed throughout the building. The class is part of a larger project associated with the Moody Project Wall piece “Practices of Attention” envisioned by Angela Chen, a lecturer of art in Rice’s Department of Art.

A&E 2/27/24 10:46pm
Review: ‘The Taste of Things’ explores the culinary world

In recent years, food has become increasingly commodified and diminished, at least in on-screen depictions. The allure of perfectly curated dishes on TikTok and other social media apps has desensitized us to the simple pleasures of good food — when everything looks picture perfect, nothing feels particularly special. 


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.