Movie Guru: ’Godmothered’ feels like ’Enchanted’ but not quite as good
“Godmothered” ends up magical, but it takes too long to get there.
The movie, which is premiering on Disney+ this Friday, is a well-meaning attempt to make the fairy godmother trope more realistic while adding an extra level of wholesomeness. It’s a fairy tale for single parents who want to focus on their kids, which is definitely not a typical approach to a family movie.
Unfortunately, the movie never seems sure what it wants to do, never finding a comfortable balance between being a fantasy parody and a wholesome family film.
The movie starts with a young fairy godmother named Eleanor who is horrified by the news that the fairy godmother division is about to be closed forever. She finds one last request sent by a 12-year-old girl named Mackenzie and travels to our world to fulfill that request, only to find that the 12-year-old has grown into a single mother who is unhappy at her job. Can Eleanor help her charge find happily-ever-after? And what exactly does happily-ever-after mean these days, anyway?
Though the opening is a fairly creative spin on some of the more common fairy godmother tropes found in popular fiction, Eleanor’s introduction to our world feels so much like Disney’s 2007 hit “Enchanted” that you’ll get déjà vu. Sadly, “Godmothered” suffers in the comparison, since “Enchanted” struck a note of affectionate, heartwarming parody so perfectly that even the studio itself hasn’t managed to re-create it. Some similarities might have been unavoidable, but “Godmothered” should have tried harder not to echo so many beats.
I found this particularly true, because the film does better when it allows itself to be something else. There’s a scene at Mackenzie’s Christmas party that’s a little bit heartbreaking in the best way, and the tree-lighting scene is just the right amount of ridiculous. There’s a last-minute run at the end that fits here as well, not at all original but sweet and over-the-top in the best way. Eleanor is allowed to be a little more fairy godmother and less “lost innocent from a different world,” Mackenzie just seems happy to have a friend she can be open with, and just enough magical things happen to make the whole thing feel more special than the usual Hallmark movie of the week.
But the movie’s evolution into a softer film about friendship leaves a half-baked almost-romance trailing like a loose ribbon. Not that a movie needs to have a romance, but the connection between Mackenzie and a co-worker named Hugh Prince had previously taken a significant chunk of the story. The fact that the plot arc ends without any kind of statement, even a definite implication that they’ll allow the relationship to continue developing, left me feeling weirdly unsatisfied.
“Godmothered” has a sweet transformation, but the fairy godmother in charge should have been a little more thorough with the details.
Rated PG for some suggestive comments
Screenplay by Melissa K. Stack and Kari Granlund
Story by Kari Granlund
Directed by Sharon Maguire
Starring Isla Fisher, Jillian Bell, Santiago Cabrera, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, June Squibb, Jane Curtin, Utkarsh Ambudkar and more
Grade: Two and a half stars
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at email@example.com.
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