PG, but I suppose this really could be G rated. I mean, there's nothing all that bad in the movie. One of the main characters is divorced. There is that. I feel like there could have been some innuendo. A trucker thinks that Eleanor is on drugs. Yeah, I guess there's a couple of jokes that only adults would get. But overall, it is a very tame movie and fairly typical Disney fare. PG.
DIRECTOR: Sharon Maguire
What? I liked it! Stop being so judgmental. Yeah, I know. It's a heck of a pivot to go from Ali: Fear Eats the Soul to Godmothered in one move. If anything, it is a testimony to how the title of this blog, Literally Anything: Movies, is accurate. Because I saw this trailer and kept dropping little hints to the fam that this would make a lovely movie night. And yeah, I was probably the one paying the most attention to it. It was charming and bright and just the right amount of Christmassy to make me feel all warm inside. (You go too Christmas, you lose me. You hear that, Hallmark Channel?)
I don't know if this shocks anyone, but Godmothered is borderline Enchanted all over again. It won't have the same cultural permeability as Enchanted. But it isn't like even Enchanted has that respected in the great Disney canon. (I just heard a splinter group of Disney enthusiasts wake up and head for the pitchforks.) It's just that I have a feeling that, down the line, Godmothered will be mostly forgotten. I'll say, "Hey, remember Godmothered?" and I might get an "Oh yeaaaahhh!" Because it does share so much DNA with Enchanted, the film rarely has time to stand on its own two feet. But that's okay sometimes. It's not like we've been overwhelmed with movies like Enchanted.
And when I say, "Movies like Enchanted", I'm talking about live-action commentary on animated fairy tales that aren't bleak as can be. Because tonally, both movies love their source materials. There's nothing cynical about either of these movies. They are joy-filled romps that actually make you want to go back and watch the works that they are parodying. That's pretty high praise. There's lots of stuff that bums you out about the source material, including some of the live-action Disney adaptations, like Maleficent. But Godmothered seems to absolutely adore the overall attitude of the Disney canon. Yeah, a lot of the nods in the movie are directly aimed at Cinderella, but this feels like a love letter to the Disney films of yesteryear. Everything in the movie just seems so wholesome. I love that there's not really an action sequence in the movie. I know that, for some reason, every Disney movie needs to have a scene that is going to terrify one of my kids. There's a little bit of menace from, of all people, Jane Curtin. But really, nothing really gets to be a threat shy of hurting people's feelings. I can get behind that.
I love that Disney's been kind of pulling away from the "one true love" mode of storytelling. Godmothered starts off with narration addressing that "Happily Ever After" should be the beginning of the story. I know that I've heard that at enough weddings that we should focus on how marriage is the real adventure, not the part about finding one's true love. The idea that everything will be happy and that we don't need support after people get married is almost a bit silly. I'm actually thinking about how much ease their was back then. I'm not saying everything was easy before I started dating the woman who would become my wife. I remember some dark days there. But the dating part of life was fun. We had disposable income and had the time to go on a date anytime we wanted. It was rad. Maybe fairy godmothers should cater to the parents out there who are struggling to get through the days. (Again, I'm pretty blessed. One thing that parenthood really reminds you that, as much as you miss infinite video game time, you wouldn't trade it for the world.)
But keeping all this in mind, I don't know if I've ever seen a character on screen quite like Mackenzie. Mackenzie is clearly a likable character. We sympathize with her, especially when we find out that the love of her life died young. It's tragic and a huge bummer. She's been raising two daughters and hasn't thought of herself once during the course of the film. But that being said, man alive, is she a grump? Mackenzie has some of the worst attitudes towards things imaginable without becoming unlikable. She straight up crushes her daughter's dreams to be a singer because she wants to protect her. How the film managed to hit that specific sweet spot without making her unlikable is absolutely a testament in itself. But it makes sense that Mackenzie has to be kind of a jerk throughout a good chunk of the movie. Eleanor is so darned sweet and saccharine that you would need a curmudgeon to balance anything. Heck, you'd need a Gloomy Gus just to have a plot. Because the entire conflict is dependent on Mackenzie embracing Eleanor's help. It's really hard to sell the idea that Eleanor just becomes un-inept at things as a central crux to the story. Instead, the concept of that being a wrinkle in the plot works a lot better. Because Eleanor isn't in the wrong in the film. Yeah, she gets reamed out for having selfish motives in helping Mackenzie, but we all acknowledge that the rationale is a little bit off. So we need to have a protagonist without an antagonist. Yeah, we have Moira, but I'm not quite sure what Moira's motivation is.
Actually, now that I wrote that sentence, I am confused about Moira. The Disney movie wanted to have a villain. I can't hold it against the film. But Moira's big thing is that she's the last bastion of a forgotten society. She's the last godmother who remembers what it is like to be a godmother. So she holds fast to the old ways. She remembers what the glory days were like and, to save her culture from dying off, she doubles down on what used to work. But Eleanor and Moira technically have the same goals. They know that the godmothers will soon all become tooth fairies, but Moira is oddly just cool with that? I don't really understand that. She actually sees Eleanor as a threat, so much so that she has to stop her? What's the point of stopping Eleanor if the agreement that they're all going to become tooth fairies is already in the works? I get the idea that she wants to hold onto the past. That's a perfectly good motivating factor, especially for a villain of the piece. But the fact that both of their desires are aligned, it kind of makes no sense that she shows up as the third act villain.
Yeah, it's an imperfect movie. It's never going to be one of those Disney classics. But I really liked it. It is a quality live-action movie, which doesn't always happen. It's sweet and nice. It's got a lot of heart. I have few complaints.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.