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Disney+ Review: Godmothered

December 3, 2020

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

If you want to feel old, just think about the fact that Enchanted, Disney’s glorious live action musical about an animated princess who comes to life in our world, came out over a decade ago. It’s kind of hard to believe. The 2007 film served as both a delightful sendup of and loving tribute to the studio’s classic princess films, and if you’ve never seen it, you should change that.

I mention this because the studio’s new live action fairy tale Godmothered, which premieres on Disney+ this weekend, gave me some major Enchanted vibes. In fact, the two films are so similar at points, that it almost feels like elements of this script could have been culled from a scrapped sequel to that film.

Both are fish out of water comedies about wide-eyed characters from a fantasy realm who struggle to adapt to modern society but bring a little bit of magic back into our cold, hard world, and both play heavily upon classic Disney lore. My one caveat is that Godmothered isn’t as good as Enchanted, (I still maintain that Amy Adams should have gotten an Oscar nomination for her wonderful performance as Princess Giselle), and it doesn’t feel nearly as fresh or inventive. But Godmothered still has many charms of its own.

The film is directed by Sharon Maguire, who is best known for helming the holiday classic Bridget Jones’s Diary, and it stars Jillian Bell as Eleanor, a fairy godmother in training who has always dreamed of taking on the legendary profession. Eleanor is always the first to raise her hand in the classes led by Moira (Jane Curtin), and she shares a room with a seasoned, older fairy godmother named Agnes (June Squibb) who offers her advice.

When it’s announced that the fairy godmother program is winding down, and they will be retrained to become tooth fairies, Eleanor is determined to save the program by proving that fairy godmothers are still needed in the modern world. She finds an old letter written to her by a young girl, and travels to our world to help her. As it turns out, the letter was written a few decades ago, and the girl, Mackenzie Walsh (Isla Fisher), is now all grown up. Mackenzie is a stressed out single mother working at the local news station in Boston, mainly producing insignificant puff pieces.

At first, Mackenzie is reluctant to accept Eleanor’s help, having long since given up her belief in fairy godmothers. But as Eleanor proves to be a positive influence for her two daughters Jane (Jillian Shea Spaeder) and Mia (Willa Skye), and even helps facilitate a romance with her co-worker named, fittingly, Hugh Prince (Santiago Cabrera), she starts to warm up to her. Eleanor makes a big impact on our world with her fairy godmother ways, including trying to turn pumpkins into carriages, making ballgowns with her magic wand, and getting wild creatures to help out around the house.

The film isn’t a musical like Enchanted, but it does have some musical elements to it. Disney takes full advantage of the fact that they gained the rights to The Sound of Music through the 20th Century Fox acquisition deal, with the song “My Favourite Things” taking on new life here through a fun outdoor singalong. The finale also centres around a musical performance at a big Christmas celebration, which provides a nice, festive setting for the last act conflict and resolution. The whole film takes place in the lead up to Christmas, allowing it to double as a piece of holiday entertainment.

The narrative beats are mostly predictable, but screenwriters Melissa K. Stack and Kari Granlund do their best to put a bit of a new spin on the familiar plot elements, including an updated, more inclusive take on the age old concept of true love. Bell carries the film with her bubbly and likeable performance, and Fisher also does appealing work as the cynic who softens up and rediscovers her childhood belief in magic over the course of the film.

The two of them make a fun comic duo, and aside from the presence of the love interest, the film is notably almost entirely female-led. There is plenty to enjoy about Godmothered, and families searching for a fun new Christmas movie with a dash of Disney magic are sure to find it a welcome escape. It’s a very cute live action fairy tale that I thoroughly enjoyed watching.

Godmothered will be available to stream exclusively on Disney+ as of December 4th.

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