Review: Godmothered

Last Friday, Disney released a wealth of princess movies on Disney+. One of them was an original film created exclusively for the streaming service. This movie went under the working title of Frills for a little while, but switched back to its original title, Godmothered, later in the year. Many princess fans were hoping Godmothered would be a prequel to "Cinderella" that would chronicle the life and times of the beloved yet mysterious Fairy Godmother character. Instead, it was close to the Kristin Chenoweth series that ABC promised a few years ago and never delivered. Like the trailer suggests, Godmothered has the look and feel of a poor man's version of Enchanted, Disney's 2007 live-action and animated hybrid about a woman from the fairy tale world trying to navigate the pitfalls and cynicism of reality. Fans of the animated sequences in Enchanted will be rewarded for sitting through the entirety of Godmothered with a stylistic treat just before the credits roll.

Godmothered poster featuring the two main characters, Eleanor and Mackenzie, in a pile of snow

There isn't much I can say about Godmothered that wasn't already given away in the trailer. The movie tells the story of Eleanor, a naive fairy godmother in training from the "Motherland," who is eager to receive her first job. When she learns that the fairy godmother school is getting shut down due to a lack of interest and that all of her fellow trainees are being converted to tooth fairies, she takes matters into her own hands to find the only letter left remaining in the archive. She travels to our world in search of the little girl who wrote the letter, Mackenzie, only to find that she is already grown up and widowed. Like Giselle, Eleanor spends the rest of the movie trying to convince this jaded and broken family to believe in magic again and find their happily ever afters. While she does this, she unwittingly makes a complete fool out of herself by walking around Boston in an enormous pink ballgown. Where Giselle gradually shifts from a full-skirted wedding dress to a lovely blue curtain dress to a modern prom dress and becomes more "real" in the process, Eleanor does not have any physical or mental growth to adapt to her new environment throughout the course of the movie, resulting in some silly antics that are hard to swallow at times.

Godmothered is the second princess-inspired movie that Disney created exclusively for their streaming service. The first was Secret Society of Second-Born Royals, which was horrendously received by critics. If you did not enjoy that movie, then you will likely not enjoy this one. Though the plot is different, both movies share a similar level of quality in regards to the script and effects. It was particularly jarring to watch a pivotal scene in which Eleanor uses her magic to fly around the archive searching for Mackenzie's letter. The CGI of her attempts to levitate around the high shelves portrayed lousy physics, while the distance of the shots made it evident that the person bouncing from shelf to shelf was a CGI puppet and not the actress. The script had plot holes galore as well. The most obvious one was when Eleanor made a big deal out of needing to transform something into a coach so she could return to the Motherland even though she initially traveled through a portal and poofed herself away at the end with a flick of her wand. The movie also included some pandering about Disney's acquisition of Fox that added nothing to the story. As if it wasn't enough that they dropped the beloved Anastasia onto Disney+ the same day that Godmothered was released, an extended sequence portrays Eleanor watching The Sound of Music for the first time with Mackenzie's daughters and engaging in an extended singalong of "My Favorite Things." You know, just in case you forgot that Disney owns the rights to this movie now, and hey, it's also on Disney+, so you can watch it next!

If there is any part of Godmothered that redeems itself, it's the ending. This movie jumps through a lot of hoops before it ultimately reveals the same message that Disney taught with Frozen, which is that true love comes in many forms. I don't think the subplots about Mackenzie wanting to impress her heartless boss at the news station, having a crush on one of her co-workers, or Eleanor trying to save the godmother school were entirely necessary for the movie to reach this conclusion, but they needed to make it feature-length somehow. The "Cinderella" references peppered throughout the film come full circle in a clever and unexpected way during the final few sequences in which Eleanor learns the true meaning of being a fairy godmother. I wish the movie had spent more time building up this emotional climax instead of relying on one gag after another of "Look at that crazy lady in the pink ballgown walking around an urban setting!" It really wanted to sell the Enchanted angle, possibly because that movie still is not available on Disney+. The epilogue was also a lovely throwback to the ending of Enchanted. I'm not sure why the Motherland wasn't animated at the beginning of the movie, but everything probably hearkens back to the film's low streaming budget. Little did Disney that their theatrical princess release from this year would also wind up almost exclusively for streaming and that they would lose most of their profits.

For the most part, Godmothered is a movie that parents will leave on to entertain their kids for a couple of hours while they do other things. It has very little substance until the end and a noticeably low budget. It is technically a Christmas movie since it was made for a December release, but it is not particularly religious aside from a holiday concert at the end. If you have a burning desire to watch Enchanted and can't because it isn't on Disney+, this movie will satisfy just enough of your craving to make you want to see Enchanted more because it tackled this story so much better. However, if you are still willing to sit through all the ridiculous antics and weak attempts at humor in the middle of the film, you will be rewarded at the end.

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