‘Disenchanted’: A wasted wish

Disney sequel falls into old tropes, lacks new elements, ingenuity, fails to find the magic of beloved original


Sophie Leung-Lieu

‘Disenchanted’ has received mixed reviews from audiences and critics with many pointing out its story and character flaws.

Walt Disney Studios YouTube Channel

Gaby Esquivel, staff reporter

Disenchanted was released on Disney+, on Nov. 18. This film is the sequel to 2007’s Enchanted and with it, Disney answered what followed the happily ever after we saw, but this film just further proves that not all beloved classics need a sequel.

The sequel picks up 15 years after its predecessor and Giselle (Amy Adams) is still in New York, happily married to Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and a stepmother to Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino), who is now a teenager. Despite having a perfectly charmed life with Robert and Morgan that now includes a daughter named Sofia, Giselle questions if her happily ever after is what she wanted. Her solution is to move to a new area called Monroeville but despite the change of scenery, she still has trouble getting along with Morgan since she has entered her teenage years. Giselle makes a wish for a fairy tale, but everything goes wrong when the wish turns her into a wicked stepmother and puts her hometown Andalasia in grave danger.

The concept of this film may sound great on paper, with fans of Enchanted getting the chance to see how Giselle has been doing these last few years adjusting to New York, but the concept is poorly executed. The trope of the wicked stepmother seems like recycling as it was already touched on in the first film with Queen Narissa.

Amy Adams does a wonderful job returning as Giselle, giving a performance that is just as full of life, witty and lively as her portrayal in Enchanted. Her beautiful singing has not changed and is very nostalgic to hear. Adams’ down-to-earth energy in real life remained the same in the 15-year time stamp and shows very much in the film. Though Adams is perfect in every way, the same can’t be said for her character.

Disney just doesn’t create heartwarming or meaningful scenes anymore.

The film’s portrayal of Giselle’s new relationship with Morgan also gives into tropes and isn’t afforded a sense of resolution. The film doesn’t explore or develop her relationship with Morgan and therefore all we know is that Giselle is having a hard time connecting with her. Morgan receives the moody teenager stereotype that has been overused countless times in other films. Near the beginning, viewers discover that Morgan feels imperfect about not being a real daughter of Andalasia and sings about it in “Perfect.” Throughout the story, however, her character arc never comes full circle, and a resolution to her problem never materializes. Despite Robert being her father, he doesn’t get very much screen time and has very little to offer in the sequel. Honestly, his character could be completely removed and nothing would change in the plot. He served an essential role in the first movie as Giselle’s true love but also her guide to navigating and learning about the real world. In this film, he feels distractingly underused. 

We also get the return of Prince Edward (played by James Marsden) and Nancy (played by Idina Menzel) who are now king and queen of Andalasia. Marsden and Menzel do a fantastic job of maintaining the same character qualities, and we see their relationship is further developed. They get a duet song called “The Magic of Andalasia,” and while this song may seem unnecessary or plodding, it further expands upon their love and support towards Giselle and her daughter. The only disappointment here is that their characters get little screen time, which is a shame for James Marsden especially. He is a terrific singer, and part of what made Enchanted iconic was his humor and spontaneous energy whenever he was on screen.

The lyrics themselves are not memorable and don’t contribute to the film’s plot development.

Disney is known for its plethora of new songs within each movie release, and Disenchanted is no exception. Though every single actor involved in the songs do a great job, the lyrics themselves feel disjointed. For instance, “Even More Enchanted” and “Fairytale Life” sound beautiful with Adam’s voice, but the lyrics themselves are not memorable and don’t contribute to the film’s plot development, as compared to songs from Enchanted like “That’s How You Know” and “Even More Enchanted.” The latter song I especially consider to be unnecessary as there is nothing special or too important happening in the new house, the song’s focus. The film did fix one gross oversight made in the prequel, which was the lack of solo numbers given to Idina Menzel. In Disenchanted, Menzel gets her own song with “Love Power,” and the song is unsurprisingly beautiful. 

The most entertaining and redeeming part of the film is the climax in which Giselle competes for the crown of Monrolasia against the evil queen Malvina Monroe. At this point, there is nothing much that can snap Giselle out of the curse she placed on herself. Morgan is able to break Giselle’s curse with her magical memory tree because memories are the most powerful magic. In a heartbreaking moment, we see how everything that is or was part of Andalasia is slowly dying, including Giselle; meanwhile, Robert is desperately trying to keep the wish from becoming permanent by keeping the clock from striking 12. It makes it difficult for the audience to know what will save this tragedy, but in a bittersweet moment, Morgan wishes to be back home with Giselle with the Andalasian wand. The moment resolved Giselle and Morgans’ daughter and mother problems nicely as they seem to be smiling and on the same page towards the ending scene.

Enchanted remains my favorite Disney film even though its sequel, Disenchanted, is only an OK film. I did find moments that were very fun to watch, but Disney just doesn’t create heartwarming or meaningful scenes as often anymore. Instead of adding simple cash grabs to their streaming service, they should take into account what makes a film memorable and fun to watch and for a sequel, what makes the world within this movie grow bigger while maintaining intact the values and personalities of the characters.