Bibbidi Bobbidi Basic.
It’s no surprise that people make their fair share of comparisons between Disney+ and Netflix. Both streaming services are already fairly similar, and now it seems like when it comes to their original content, Disney+ is beginning to produce movies that are just as “meh” as Netflix classics such as, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020), and Love, Guaranteed (2020). By the way, check out my review for those movies, here and here. Godmothered (2020) seemed like it should have been a surefire hit for Disney, but unfortunately, it wasn’t as magical as I would have hoped. Cute? Yeah! Slightly boring and predictable? Yeah. Turns out even the (seemingly) biggest media company in the world is capable of churning out ho-hum movies every now and then.
Godmothered follows Eleanor, a young and unskilled fairy godmother from a magical land who wants to prove to her headmistress that fairy godmothers are still needed in the human world. To do so, Eleanor tracks down Mackenzie, a grown woman who had her wish ignored when she was a child. Desperate to prove that it’s never too late for a happily ever after, Eleanor does everything she can to help Mackenzie with her troubled life.
This is the type of original content I like to see Disney+ putting out. Instead of being a straight up remake like, Mulan (2020) or Black Beauty (2020) – check out my review for that movie, here – Godmothered is an original idea that’s merely inspired by the magic and whimsy we’ve come to thoroughly associate with Disney. In a time when it would have been so easy for the company to go the Maleficent (2014) route and slap together an origin story for the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella (1950), it’s admirable how they decided to do something completely new. Though Godmothered isn’t spellbinding enough to enchant the same audience who fell in love with Beauty and the Beast (1991) or The Parent Trap (1998), it’s a safe bet for today’s young audience. In fact, it feels a lot like a Disney Channel Original Movie which makes sense considering the platform. Godmothered is cheesier and slightly more kiddie than I was expecting. I mean, I get it, the target audience is definitely not 24-year-olds, but the screenwriters could have put a little more effort into making the humour more bearable for anyone over the age of seven. One of the jokes was literally one fairy godmother talking to Eleanor through a grandfather clock and saying, “haven’t you ever heard of FaceTime?” Yeesh.
It may be customary for fairy tales to rely on narration, but that’’s one fairy tale element Godmothered would have benefitted from without. June Squibb, as Eleanor’s friend Agnes, practically spells (haha) out the entire movie, using heavy exposition to constantly tell us what characters are doing and feeling. It’s an exhausting amount of telling instead of showing that bogs down the movie and draws out the runtime. I’m pretty confident in saying that Godmothered is a solid 20 minutes too long. The movie trudges along and instead of devoting any real time to figuring out what would help solve Mackenzie’s problems, it gets sidetracked and we end up with scene after scene of Eleanor getting into familiar comedy hijinks. A tighter focus on the movie’s central plot would have been helpful. Case in point, Godmothered is also a quasi-Christmas movie. Why? Why does it happen to take place during the holidays? That was an odd choice, as was Jane Curtin’s wig.
The biggest problem with Godmothered is that it doesn’t mine any new territory. This movie as a whole was already giving me strong Enchanted (2007) vibes, but the humour really feels like the screenwriters were just copy and pasting jokes from that movie. This was a chance to do something new with the premise of, “magical person finds themselves in the real world,” and ends up squandering it. The movie’s attempts at comedy and heartwarming moments feel like a re-hash of several Disney movies we’ve seen before. It’s tiring and a little eye-roll-worthy.
I was excited to watch Godmothered for two reasons. One, it looked it cute and charming which for the most part it was. Two, and most importantly, it stars Jillian Bell whom I absolutely adore. I fell in love with Bell after watching her phenomenal performance in the equally phenomenal, Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019). By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. As Eleanor, Bell is undeniably the best part of this movie. Like Amy Adams in Enchanted or Will Ferrell in Elf (2003), Bell brings the same level of endearing effervescence to her starring role. Watching her play a sunshine-y protagonist with a heart of gold is incredibly enjoyable to watch and shows how versatile Bell is as an actress. Eleanor is the complete opposite of the cynical and self-deprecating Brittany and Bell nails playing such an irresistibly optimistic character.
Godmothered is a movie that makes sense to stream. It’s not really worth the price of admission, but perfectly appropriate for half-watching in your living room as you decorate your Christmas tree or wrap presents. Paying attention isn’t exactly mandatory for this one. Disney tried its best to make the glass slipper fit but unfortunately the clock has already struck midnight on this familiar comedy.
Have you seen Godmothered?
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