As remakes and decades-later sequels premiere, it has become increasingly rare to stumble upon a film that doesn’t rely solely on callbacks to the first film to keep you tuned in. While Disenchanted is a breath of fresh air in that it carries the story along rather than stalling to catch viewers up, it occasionally relies too heavily on the tropes of childhood fairy tales, causing moments of complete disbelief and failing to capture the magic that enthralled viewers 15 years ago.
After a few less-than-fairy-tale years in New York, Giselle (Amy Adams) embarks on a journey to relocate to a place where villains hide in plain sight—suburbia. Joined by Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a teenage Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino), and a new family addition, Giselle plants roots in Monroeville, where bake sales and high school dances are the talks of the town. After a wish brings storybook magic to life, Giselle learns that a true fairy tale world isn’t one with ogres, dragons, and princesses locked in dismal towers. A magical life is one you create, filled with memories of loved ones who believe in and support you.
Adams is at her best when she isn’t the whimsical damsel singing to roaches and skunks, but the wicked stepmother who wears her hair high and finds a blundering Dempsey a nuisance. In one of the most charming scenes, Adams switches from one to the other between breaths, fighting to maintain her morality. A sing-off with Malvina Monroe (Maya Rudolph) is a pinnacle of the film that showcases just how good bad could be if the leading ladies had more screen time together. Disenchanted shines when it strays from the woes of teenage angst and focuses on the cyclical nature of boring adulthood and a wish for more. Don’t we all wish we could trade in daily commutes, familial bickering, and coffee and toast for a little excitement?
It’s worth catching up with Giselle and crew one last time, even if the madness of the Big Apple is swapped for the bake sales of suburbia. PG, 119 min.