“It turns out New York wasn’t Giselle’s fairy tale after all,” a narrator says. Thousands of new Floridians will fall over laughing.
Running time: 121 minutes. Rated PG (mild peril and language.) On Disney+.
Giselle (Amy Adams) didn’t sour on Manhattan because of crime, rising costs of living and rapidly deteriorating conditions, though. The cartoon princess, who found herself transported from her magic kingdom of Andalasia to the big city during the first film 15 years ago, now has a baby with her lawyer husband Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and their apartment along Central Park is too small for their growing family, which also includes her teenage stepdaughter Morgan.
So, the clan schleps to a house in a fake suburb called Monroeville that would probably be located in Westchester.
And just like that, the whole point of this fish-out-of-water franchise is unceremoniously tossed into the Hudson. No more gags with an innocent Disney princess who radiates goodness clashing with angry, perpetually frowning, clad-in-black New Yorkers. Instead we’re ladled familiar family slop that has mamma Giselle butt heads with spitfire Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino), who misses her old home.
Not sure of what to do, upset Giselle takes a wishing wand that her old flame Edward (James Marsden) and his wife Nancy (Idina Menzel) gifted her baby, and sings “I Wish We Had a Fairy Tale Life.” That spell turns Monroeville into something like the storybook village of “Beauty and the Beast” overnight. Townsfolk in silly hats and aprons dance in the square.
Things get messy though. Giselle gradually transforms into an Evil Stepmother and competes with another villain, Malvina (Maya Rudolph), an obnoxious mother from the high school. Rudolph’s watered-down material isn’t up to her massive talents, and again she is wasted in another movie.
To make up for the devoid-of-personality suburban setting, director Adam Shankman, composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz have made “Disenchanted” a full-blown musical.
The first film had just three substantial songs, “True Love’s Kiss,” “Happy Working Song” and the sublime Central Park flash-mob-style number “That’s How You Know.” This time there are a solid 10 pastiche tunes that do nothing more than imitate better Disney hits and drag on too long. The wannabe big single “Love Power,” sung by Menzel’s character who doesn’t need her own song, even has the “Frozen” actress belt “Let it glow!”
One sequence is amusing: a number called “Fairytale Life (After the Spell)” in which panini grills and espresso machines sing along like they live in Pee-wee’s Playhouse. You struggle to care about the rest.
Is it pure nostalgic bliss seeing Adams back in her star-making royal role? Not really. Her, Dempsey, Marsden and Menzel all feel a tad long in the tooth for this story. After all, these are glittering princesses and princesses — not the 300-year-old witches of “Hocus Pocus.”
Most of all, though, we miss the real main character of this series: New York City.