Is the New Princess Content on Disney+ Worth Watching?

While we wait with bated breath for the live-action remake of Chip'n'Dale: Rescue Rangers this Friday, Disney+ dropped two lower-profile releases last Wednesday. Though not exactly the next Disney Princess films, the new musical, Sneakerella, and the fantasy reality series, The Quest, both contain princess elements to some extent. While I didn't exactly have high hopes for Sneakerella, I was expecting it to be more entertaining than a washed up reality show. It turns out I was completely wrong. Before I begin breaking these down, I have to give them both props for originality. In an era of sequels and remakes, it's impressive for Disney to give us a fresh take on anything at all, and both offerings provide unique versions of entertainment that are unlike anything we've seen before.

The Quest poster

A fantasy reality series sounds like an oxymoron when so many reality shows are already scripted to an extent. I was expecting The Quest to be more like a recording of a group of kids going through a fantasy-themed escape room. While parts of it did feel that way, it was so much more. The show takes place a richly fleshed-out fantasy realm full of kings, princes, princesses, knights, and sorcerers. I actually forgot what I was watching for a few minutes during the opening because the fantasy aspects of the show are so immersive and filmed in such a cinematic way. When the "real world" teenagers finally make their appearance, it's a little jarring because they are so clearly out of place. They are fully devoted to saving the kingdom just as they should be, and the King is willing to put them to the test. Yet, they react to everything like normal teenagers would and are given tasks that amount to gleeful Renaissance Faire games while the fictional characters in the series face life-threatening odds and respond to the impending war with the sorceress Tavora with the utmost seriousness.

Fantasy characters from The Quest

My favorite character in the show is Mila, a knight who is selected to be the oracle who guides the real-world teenagers on their tasks and has a "Will they? Won't they?" relationship with Prince Emmett. The scenes without the teenagers play out very differently than the scenes with them because they are more dramatic and scripted, while the scenes where the fantasy characters interact with the teenagers play out like a character interaction at Evermore Park. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it gives the show some uneven pacing. Many of the best scenes were the ones without the real-world teenagers in them, but there were also some fun interactions between them and the characters such as when Princess Adaline comforts two of the girls who feel bad for not winning any medals or when one of them yells at Prince Emmett for not caring enough about his siblings. Though it's a quick watch at only eight episodes, the hour-long format could have easily been cut in half by eliminating the reality show-style competitions between the kids without losing anything important. In the end, it really didn't matter who the One True Hero was because no one was eliminated, and everyone pitched in to save the kingdom.

Sneakerella Poster

Then there's Sneakerella, which is every bit as cringey as it sounds and then some. Like I said earlier, I have to give it props for not being yet another "Cinderella" retelling, but the many references to the fairy tale scattered throughout the film are extremely out of place for the setting of modern-day New York City. This is no Enchanted, I can assure you. Some of the songs were so bad that I actually watched them on mute. It sounded like someone was trying to mimic Lin Manuel Miranda's soundtrack for In the Heights and failed miserably. The story is a loosely gender-bent adaptation of "Cinderella" about a boy named El who works in a sneaker shop and dreams of designing his own sneakers, which parallels the designer dreams of the protagonist from the most recent Cinderella film starring Camila Cabello. He runs away with his queer friend Sami to a sneaker gala so he can be reunited with Kira King, the daughter of a world-famous sneaker tycoon who he spent a magical day with before learning her true identity.

El and Kira

There are so many things in this movie that don't work, but the biggest one is all the forced references to Disney's "Cinderella." There's even a random cover of "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes," which makes no sense in the middle of all the rap songs. El's mysterious neighbor, who acts as the Fairy Godmother character, has some weird magical powers that are never quite revealed as magic to the main characters as magic. When he tells them that they have to be back by midnight, there's no threat of their gala outfits disappearing as far El and Sami are aware. Instead, they decide they need to hastily run away from the gala as soon as the clock strikes 12, knocking over everyone and everything in sight, ruining their new clothing, and losing a sneaker as a direct result of their own actions. Since there was no threat of a spell breaking, they could have just as easily walked back to the mysterious neighbor and apologized for being a little late because they got held up. Nope, their outfits had to get ripped to shreds by their own volition because that's what happens in "Cinderella" and for no other reason.

Of the two new releases on Disney+, I would say that The Quest is the only one worth watching, and not for the reality show competition aspects. It is a truly innovative concept that allows audiences to imagine what it would be like to be transported into an immersive fantasy world through the eyes of a group of modern-day teenagers. Sneakerella could have worked fine for a different audience, but it tries so hard to appeal to Disney Princess fans that it winds up appealing to no one. Have you seen Sneakerella or The Quest? Which one did you like better? Let me know in the comments!


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