With Christmas just around the corner, and many of us looking for some holiday entertainment suitable for the whole family, Disney has taken the opportunity to release the live-action fantasy film, Godmothered. Directed by Sharon Maguire, the movie – which stars Jillian Bell and Isla Fisher – arrived on Disney+ on Friday, and follows the story of a fairy called Eleanor, who dreams of becoming a fairy godmother.
In the movie, Eleanor discovers a letter from 10-year-old Mackenzie – a young girl who wants to live happily ever after. So, she travels from the magical realm of the Motherland to the real world to answer Mackenzie’s request.
But Eleanor is a little slow off the mark with reading the letter, and arrives 30 years’ too late. Mackenzie has now grown up into a disillusioned mother of two, who finds little joy in life and no longer believes in fairy tales.
For Eleanor to fulfil her goal, she must change Mackenzie’s outlook. But the would-be fairy godmother must do this in a world she doesn’t quite understand, and with a woman who long since abandoned her spark.
Godmothered runs just under two-hours in length, includes a number of set pieces, a few laughs, and some holiday cheer. It is a new story for Disney (i.e. unlike last week’s new release, Mulan, it is not based on an existing property), but it is somewhat familiar.
Anyone who has watched a trailer for Godmothered will know this movie seems remarkably similar to Enchanted – the 2007 Disney movie, about a young girl who steps out of a fairy tale and into the harsh reality of New York City. Godmothered isn’t quite the same as Enchanted, there are differences in the story and the approach to the material, but they are very, very alike.
In fact, at times throughout the movie, I felt as if I was watching a re-tread of Enchanted, particularly towards the beginning of the film. This does ease off a little as the story progresses, but the picture never shakes the similarities and fans of Enchanted will feel as if they have seen this all before.
Because the two movies are so alike, it is incredibly difficult not to compare them. As such, at a very basic level, Godmothered delivers only a fraction of the fun of Enchanted, and this is a real shame.
My personal opinion is I would much rather have watched the oft-rumoured, but yet to materialise, Enchanted sequel over Godmothered, and I can’t help but feel as if Disney should have spent money on that project rather than this one. But this isn’t Enchanted 2, this is an entirely separate movie, so I must judge it on its own merits.
Based on what Godmothered brings to the screen, this is a perfectly fine family adventure, which does exactly what you expect it to. It goes from A to B to C, ticks all the required boxes for providing non-offensive entertainment, and arguably gets better the further into the story it goes.
Jillian Bell serves up a likeable performance as Eleanor, becoming the highlight of the movie, and there is a decent wrap-up to the story. The film skirts around some interesting ideas about love, loss, and happiness, and while these themes are never fully developed, everything feels acceptable enough.
Sounds like I’m positive, but not entirely enthused, right? Well, that’s exactly what I am.
Godmothered is not a bad movie, but it’s not a great movie either. It is good. It is watchable. It is alright.
If the film didn’t carry the Disney branding, then I would have said this was a Hallmark movie. This is not a dig at Hallmark, the company knows what its audience likes and delivers it very well, but Disney audiences expect something a little more magical.
Disney has a certain prestige, and a lot of money in the bank, so anything other than great almost feels like a failure. This feels like it could have done with a little more pizzazz, as well as some further investment to get it where it needed to be.
What also doesn’t help is that Godmothered is from director Sharon Maguire. The same Sharon Maguire who brought us Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) – a hilarious, instantly likeable, feel-good movie that felt like a warm hug at Christmas time.
Godmothered is lacking Maguire’s flair and I don’t know why. It’s almost as if she was told not to go too big.
But I realise I am starting to go down a negative track, and that’s not fair. As previously stated, Godmothered is a perfectly serviceable movie, that will provide some enjoyment – probably more to tweenagers than older members of the household.
It is the sort of movie that would work fine as an early evening treat on Christmas Eve, or as a post-lunch screening on Boxing Day. It’s not a ‘main event’ movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it passes the time and will offer some cheer to those looking for something to watch.
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