I have to admit I’m not often charmed by (often unnecessary) sequels- BUT when I saw Disney were making a follow up to Enchanted, I was SOLD. Sadly, it didn’t quite have the magic of the original. As much as I LOVED the idea of playing with fairy tale tropes, fighting the stereotypical roles we find ourselves in, this was only ever close to being great instead of reaching actual greatness. What saddens me the most is how much more scope there was to explore the concept of being forced to be a wicked stepmother- simply because that’s what the story demands. I just *wish* this story could’ve been given the chance to shine!
… which is precisely why, instead of writing a standard review, I’m going to rewrite what I think should’ve happened in this movie (this is a story about wish fulfilment after all 😉) So hold onto your pumpkins, cos I’m about to bibbidi bobbidi boo this whole thing! (mice beware: I may be using a bit too much cheese 😉)
We’ll start in a similar way to the movie- setting the scene of the new life away from New York. Except I wouldn’t simply have them moving out to the suburbs to get more space- but focus on moving for a better life. That way, moving from New York can be for the benefit of all the characters. Giselle as the mother/stepmother is thinking of creating a proper home for them all, Robert as princely leader is stagnating in his life and Morgan as the stepdaughter has big dreams (which incidentally the movie doesn’t seem to be interested in exploring- we never get to see what this character actually wants!!) In the short term, Morgan will be leaving her friends behind (which we should be shown rather than told) however in the long term, she will be able to get the future she wants (perhaps by moving to a better school with more opportunities!) Of course, for the sake of conflict, Morgan doesn’t see that and is resistant to any type of change- even if it’s in her own interest. Leading, of course, to the big fight where Morgan calls her StEPmOthEr… Oooohhhhh…
Now of course that’s just the setup- jumping right into the catalyst where everyone is cursed… I think it would be so much better if they’re all aware of being forced into a fairy tale. Part of the charm of the original was their awareness of the fairy tale playing out in the real world- so why not do something similar here? Imagine how it would add to the comedy if everyone was singing and dancing against their will (think: Buffy’s Once More With Feeling).
Having everyone be aware they’re cursed also allows for a lot more conflict! They can all fight it out- knowing Giselle has inadvertently cursed them all (without being aware that Giselle is doomed to be the evil stepmother). Giselle is trying to tell them to make the best of being in their fairy tale roles (paralleling how she told them to make the best of the move) and they’re all compelled to go about their fairy tale day.
Of course, Robert will need a better arc. Determined to be the hero, this part of the movie can explore how he’s dissatisfied in his job, wishing to do something more meaningful (and we can leave out all that dull stuff about the commute). Similar to the plot of the actual film, it makes sense to show him sticking up for the little guy and trying to fight monsters (… I just wish that had some bearing on the ending… )
And if you’ve noticed something missing in my updated version- that’s because there’s something missing! I’ve taken out the pointless villainess. As fun as her musical number was, she definitely felt like a surplus character and her storyline merely bloated up the plot. I’d cut her from the story without hesitation.
That said, I would add *even more* humour! I’d take a leaf out of the Incredibles and have a magical baby giving some much needed comic relief. I wouldn’t just stick her in the cot and palm her off on some fairies, I’d have her wreaking her own havoc with that wand! (although maybe I would include some fairies cos that’s also funny 😉) We can even have a wink at the end for her keeping her magic- because why not? Besides, it’s not like she’s irrelevant to the plot- she’s what ties Giselle and Morgan and Robert together as family.
Now as Giselle turns into an evil stepmother (and Pip into an evil cat) I’d definitely have her make the choice to bring more magic into their world. It’s no good having it simply be a consequence of the spell. It’s far more fun to have Giselle deliberately trying to pull her old world into her new one. Symbolically this shows she’s trying to hold onto who she once was… which Morgan could recognise when everyone else thinks she’s a lost cause.
Thus the story can once again subvert a traditional fairy tale- Giselle is becoming beastly and only Morgan can save her from this final transformation. As the clock runs down, the villagers (led by Robert) want to destroy her, YET it’s Morgan who says she’s not going to let them slay her mother. Deep down, she realises that Giselle only wants what’s best for her. Protecting the Beast gives her a chance to turn back the clock and gives her just a moment to undo the spell to destroy Andalasia. They both have the chance to realise they were wrong and restore familial harmony. It’s not enough for the stepmother to merely say “you are my daughter”- she has to recognise she wasn’t treating her like a daughter to grow from it. And likewise, the stepdaughter has to realise that she is loved and respect that love. That way they can stop the curse they’ve unleashed together. (See, I told you it was going to get cheesy).
In a lot of ways, I can see this is what Disenchanted was going for. It’s just a shame it got bogged down in some silly plotlines and became a little too convoluted. I’ve patched together something out of the ragged edges that could just pull it together…
But what do you think? Have you seen this movie? Do you think it worked? Or could you see some room for improvement? Let me know in the comments below!