If you have ever wondered what a magical fairy godmother would make of the modern world, wonder no more for Disney+ have you covered with their latest original film that takes more than a few of its cues from 2007’s enchanting, erm, Enchanted. Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, after all, but you can’t really blame the filmmakers for copying such a successful film like that Amy Adams-starrer: the formula worked for a princess, why not a fairy godmother?
What such a person would make of 2020 is easy to surmise but in a world where we all need a little magic, Godmothered casts a pretty spiffy spell.
Desperate to make a name for herself as a godmother after years of training, Eleanor (Jillian Bell) decides to take on an unassigned child to help turn their life around. The land of godmothers – led by Jane Curtin – is slowly being phased out due to a continued slide in belief from children in the real world, so armed with her wand and her infectious joy, Eleanor chooses to help a young girl named Mackenzie (Isla Fisher). Only when she arrives in a small town in the US, she isn’t young anymore: she’s in her 30’s and a reporter for a local news station still reeling from a personal tragedy.
So far, so blueprinted but what keeps the film’s head above water is the brilliant central turn from Bell as the titular magic wand bearer. Lighting up the film like the extraordinary lights she bestows on Mackenzie’s family, her charm and warmth are infectious and when the story around her begins to collapse, she bippety-boppety-boo’s it to make something sturdier. Indeed, Fisher is solid, too, despite what little she really has to play with, while Mary Elizabeth Ellis as her sister, and the incomparable duo of Curtin and June Squibb are all on good form throughout and there’s plenty of laughs for the whole family.
Helmed by Bridget Jones’ Diary alum Sharon Maguire, there is a real energy and sense of wonder about the film as it deals with the harsh realities of loss, bullying, how we define love, and, most of all, the acceptance of others, and while the story never goes too deep below the surface, there’s enough thoughtfulness and care to make some of it stick. And, like the aforementioned fairytale, it tries and ultimately falls short at prodding at some of the usual clichés surrounding such an story but you can’t help admire what it’s shooting for.
Comedy, Fantasy | USA, 2020 | PG | 4th December 2020 | Disney+ | Dir.Sharon Maguire | Isla Fisher, Jillian Bell, Santiago Cabrera, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, June Squibb, Jane Curtin