Challenging traditional fairytale stereotypes and filling your heart at the same time.
We all remember the iconic shot of Amy Adams emerging from the middle of the road in Times Square, dressed head to toe in a fairytale princess bridal gown. We’re talking about a curly bouffant accessorized with a tiara, an oversized white dress with puffy shoulders and an exaggerated hoop skirt. Giselle went full-out glam, and we’re here for it. Now 15 years later, our favourite Damsel in distress returns to Disney + with a family of her own and a new movie for us to sing along to.
Disenchanted takes place roughly ten years after where we last left the characters. Giselle and Robert, now married, parent Robert’s teen daughter Morgan and have young baby Sophia. They move to a new town to discover that their happily ever after isn’t what they thought it would be. With a difficult teenager and a new life they’re struggling to adapt to, Giselle makes a wish that turns the lives of everyone around her and Andalasia upside down- Including herself when she experiences some peculiar side effects. Giselle wishes for a fairytale life, but of course, stepmothers in fairy tales are always evil. She faces a tough battle as she tries to suppress the ever-growing villain from within that’s threatening to ruin her family.
Oh, am I happy to see some original characters return! Including Amy Adams as Giselle, Patrick Dempsey as Robert, Idina Menzel as Nancy and James Marsden as Prince Edward. Gabriella Baldacchino debuts as Morgan, replacing Rachel Covey in the first movie. In fact, Rachel has a cameo in this sequel. Did you spot her?
The movie is a huge amalgamation of the fairy tales we know and love. Including poorly treated daughters who clean and tidy the house (there’s a lot wrong with that, but that’s for another post), love interests in the form of Princes and evil queens and all of this with a countdown to midnight ringing in everyone’s ears.
However, this movie’s core is the relationship between Giselle and Morgan. Although they’ve grown very close, Giselle is not Morgan’s birth mother; as we know from Enchanted. Morgan’s transition into being a teenager emotionally pushes Giselle away, and…well, coming from a literal fairytale world, she doesn’t know how to deal with this. She’d do anything in her capabilities to feel close to Morgan again. Unfortunately, singing to her as she walks into her new school doesn’t quite have the effect she’s after. Nor does campaigning on Morgan’s behalf with cupcakes of her face as the cherry on top. Desperate to make things right, she makes her wish and wakes up to a perfectly happy family and talking kitchen appliances (yes, like a fever dream). Finally, Giselle is not the only one singing her feelings!
Eventually, as chaos ensues and Giselle becomes a full-on evil stepmother, it’s in Morgan’s hands to free her from the curse with memories they’ve shared. However, by this point, Giselle has made an enemy. Malvina Monroe (played by Maya Rudolph) gives Giselle the ultimatum of handing over a destructive magic wand to the evil queen or killing Morgan. If that wasn’t enough, Morgan has until midnight to stop the wish from becoming permanent. During this, Giselle makes a goosebump-worthy statement of love to Morgan. Ultimately it’s the love of Giselle and Morgan that saves everyone. This demonstrates just how special their relationship is. I loved the message of memories holding special significance, demonstrating that it’s not just genetics that bond two people but quality time too.
In presenting this storyline, Disenchanted challenges the stereotypical evil stepmother we so often see in the media by briefly providing an example of a well-loved character as her polar opposite. By doing this, young viewers are seeing how not all step-parents are evil like in the fairytales. A stereotype that is well on its way to becoming extinct.
Hoorah for sequels!