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‘Disenchanted’ really lacks magic

Movies & TV

Some say that sequels to hit movies ten-plus years later are a pretty bad idea. There’s a very good reason for that: because it’s true. The history of popular film is littered with long-put-off sequels that not only failed to capture the magic of the originals, be even made us wonder if the originals were all that good to begin with.

Now, you can add “Disenchanted,” just released on Disney+, to that ever-growing list.

“Disenchanted” is a sequel to the 2007 film, “Enchanted,” a film where Giselle (Amy Adams) is flung from her magical cartoon homeworld of Andalasia into modern-day New York City, where she falls in love with a handsome lawyer, Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and lives happily ever after.

Only the story didn’t end there. “Disenchanted” open with Robert and Giselle realizing they need more space and moving their family to the suburbs. Things aren’t idyllic in their new home, especially when it comes to Giselle’s relationship with her moody teenage daughter, Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino). Giselle wishes for a fairytale life but that soon goes awry, revealing adversaries, changing Giselle into something darker and threatening two worlds.

“Enchanted” wasn’t mind-blowingly great but it was pretty fun. The idea of Disney poking fun at its own tropes was amusing and Adams gave a spirited performance to bring the whole movie together. The original had some magic to it.

“Disenchanted” feels like most of the magic has been expended. First off, the story just isn’t very compelling. Giselle turning the world upside-down because she isn’t living the life she was expecting just doesn’t have the same hooks as the original’s fish-out-of-water plot.

On top of that, the movie spends too much time on side plots that could be cut without affecting the story. The side story of Robert trying to prove his worth does set up what he does in the movie’s climax but it takes the focus off the relationship between Giselle and Morgan, which is where the meat of the story really is.

Plus, this movie clocks in at over two hours and feels much longer than that. The pacing feels really deliberate and slow. That’s bad news for a movie that’s supposed to be a romantic comedy. Cutting some of the fat would help with that, as omitting the boring scenes would cut some of the dead air between the more entertaining scenes and make the flick more consistently funny.

“Disenchanted” isn’t the most visually stimulating piece of cinema, either. There are lots of pastel colors and flower blossoms but everything looks a little cheap. Director Adam Shankman isn’t really known for being a visual stylist but the way this film is shot and edited, even the music sequences are lacking in energy.

The one thing that makes “Disenchanted” worth watching is Adams’ performance. The story calls for her to play two versions of the same character in a bunch of scenes and she does a great job painting both light and dark versions of Giselle with her acting skills. I was reminded of Gollum in “The Two Towers” watching her swing back and forth between those two different takes on the character.

Beyond that, some of the musical numbers are entertaining and every once in a while, a joke will pop up that works. On the whole, however, “Disenchanted” is just a dull, tired slog that didn’t need to exist. The original was fun. “Disenchanted” is like doing chores for a wicked stepmother.

”Disenchanted” is currently available to stream on Disney+.

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