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We’ve seen multiple fairy tale revisionist stories over the years with Disney’s Enchanted probably being the best example of them. Last year, director Sharon Maguire gave us another fairy tale revisionist story, this time one focusing on the Godmother figure. Without further ado, here is my review of the Disney+ film, Godmothered!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The film begins with narration by Agnes, an elder fairy godmother student, played by June Squibb. She tells us about the Motherland, a magical land where fairy godmothers go to to learn how to become fairy godmothers. The youngest, newest, and most determined student at the institute is Eleanor, played by Jillian Bell. She attends godmothering courses taught by the Headmistress Moira, played by Jane Curtin, and is the most enthusiastic of all the other students.
Due to declining numbers of people believing in godmothers, true love, etc., there is talk that the Headmistress is planning to shut down the institute for good and that all the fairy godmothers will be repurposed as Tooth Fairies! Unhappy with the thought of the institute shutting down, Eleanor takes it upon herself to travel into the real world and help someone in need of a fairy godmother. She finds a letter written by a young girl named Mackenzie and goes in search of her in the real world.
After entering the real world via a portal, she’s of course amazed at all the differences in this world compared to the Motherland. Eventually she finds Mackenzie (Mack) who is now a middle-aged woman, played by Isla Fisher. She works at a struggling news television station in a position that she’s unhappy with. Eleanor tries to explain who she is, but of course, that doesn’t go well.
She even attempts to conjure up a ballgown for Mack, but instead makes her coat more “overpoofed”. While still not convinced (obviously) that Eleanor is a fairy godmother, Mack allows Eleanor to spend the night at her house. She lets her sleep in the cellar away from her and her two daughters.
Mack is a single mother whose husband passed away a few years ago in a car accident. She’s since raised their two daughters by herself: teenager Jane, played by Jillian Shea Spaeder, and the younger Mia, played by Willa Skye. She gets help from her sister, Paula, played by Mary Elizabeth Ellis. But still, Mack and her daughters aren’t as close as they oughta be with Mack never really having fun since her husband died and always being miserable.
The next day, in order to help Mack believe in her and in “happily ever after”, Eleanor transforms the inside of her house to resemble a castle and gives Mack big bushy eyebrows due to her desire of wanting eyebrows she had before she started “stress plucking”.
Paula and the girls see Eleanor as well, so so much for keeping her a secret! They’re amazed at what Eleanor has done to the place and convince Mack to let Eleanor stay and help out for a while. Mack gives in, but takes Eleanor to work with her to prevent her from causing any trouble. At work, Eleanor sees one of Mack’s colleagues named Hugh Prince, played by Santiago Cabrera, and she makes it her goal to get the two together.
Eleanor continues to try to bring happiness in Mack’s life including allowing her to pamper herself for a weekend while she takes care of the kids. The kids enjoy having Eleanor around: they get to do crafts, sing, get encouragement, etc.
Even Mack starts to loosen up a bit and begins to show interest in Hugh.
It’s not long though before Eleanor receives word from the Motherland via a grandfather clock portal of some kind.
The rumors are true and the institute will be shut down. Eleanor has one day to get back to the Motherland before the portals close causing her to lose her magic for good.
With the added pressure, Eleanor convinces Mack to go to the company holiday party and uses magic to get Mack and Hugh to dance. Eleanor and Mack end up arguing which is overheard by all including Mack’s boss, Grant, played by Utkarsh Ambudkar. The news station’s ratings have been boosted recently due to a viral video of Eleanor accidentally messing up a news shoot. But based on the argument between Eleanor and Mack, it sounds as if they had planned this viral video in the first place. Grant tells Mack to see him in his office the next morning and Mack leaves the party. Mack realizes that Eleanor wanted to rush Mack’s happiness so that she can go home and is hurt that Eleanor was so selfish.
The two part ways and Mack is fired the next day after finding out that Grant wanted to exploit Eleanor to boost their ratings and refusing to allow that to happen. Hugh also leaves the company after having been offered a better job elsewhere. Paula finds Eleanor unsuccessfully trying to transform a pumpkin into a carriage to go home and Mack and the girls catch up with her. Mack apologizes and Jane begs Eleanor to stay to support her in her singing performance that night. Eleanor agrees and as the singing performance is about to start, she devises a carriage from a watermelon to get them to the performance in time.
They arrive at the stage where Jane performs, but Moira appears via a porta and confronts Eleanor on stage. The watching crowd views this as part of a play, but Eleanor convinces Moira that maybe their way of godmothering is old-fashioned and instead they should let people decide for themselves what “true love” and “happily ever after” mean to them. Moira acquiesces and the crowd cheers. Due to the numbers of people believing in these concepts again, the institute is saved from shutting down and Eleanor has been promoted to a teaching position to teach a new generation of up-and-coming godmothers.
And that was Godmothered. Overall, I wasn’t disappointed with the story per se, but I’m not super into fairy tale revisionist stories that don’t provide a traditional happy ending. I wanted the ending to be about Mack and Hugh getting together instead of a generic “let everyone decide for themselves” message. I also wish the story had an actual villain in Moira and that we could see some of her journey to find Eleanor. I feel with Enchanted, despite being a fairy tale revisionist story, it still kept enough of the classic fairy tale tropes to seem like a fairy tale.
Jillian Bell and Isla Fisher gave great performances with Isla Fisher surprising me at how good an actress she is! Everyone else was ok. The film could have been shorter and the CGI was surprisingly unimpressive. If you’re looking for a fairy tale revisionist story, I recommend watching Enchanted instead.
So, my final score for this film is 21/35 = 60% (D-) !
The next review will be posted on November 23, 2021.