Godmothered movie review: Jillian Bell, Isla Fisher's Disney film brings much needed pre-Christmas positivity
Godmothered is not the most innovative of fairy tale films, but it's funny, sweet, and rarely has a boring moment to spare.
Comedian-actor Jillian Bell plays Eleanor, a naive and quirky rookie fairy godmother, in this holiday comedy, directed by Sharon Maguire of Bridget Jones's Diary-fame. The closest comparison to Godmothered is probably Disney's own Enchanted (2007), where Amy Adams' Giselle is forced to adapt to the ways of the real world after she is transported to the bustling streets of New York City.
Eleanor is the youngest pupil in Motherland, whose bubble of being a guardian angel to children is burst, when she learns that the academy will shut down because people no longer believe in finding their Happily Ever After. For Eleanor, a world without fairy godmothers is unimaginable (Oh, the horror!). So when she discovers a lost letter from a ten-year-old Mackenzie Walsh, she secretly decides to fulfil the little girl's deepest desire — a Prince Charming. Eleanor, however, is a little too late because Mackenzie is now an adult, a single mom who works as a producer at a local news station.
Mackenzie has no intentions of finding a Prince Charming, though a potential suitor Hugh Prince (Santiago Cabrera) is put in the mix. She is more concerned with finding a balance between her home life and a job, which mostly undermines her potential. Mackenzie is averse to seeking help from Eleanor, doubtful of her good intentions, but eventually comes around. She has to, otherwise the story won't go on. Her character is never viewed with pity or sympathy, just a work-in-progress like the rest of us. Adulthood always comes with its problems, and there is no magic spell that can provide a permanent fix.
Bell is affable as the clumsy, amateur godmother, who is always fumbling through spells, but is stubborn enough to never succumb to her weaknesses. The film benefits from her comic timing, especially in her half-fascinated, half-bewildered reactions to everything in the regular world. "Your carriage must've required an enormous pumpkin. How many footmen are inside?," she asks the kind trucker-lady who helps her reach Boston. Or when takes her first car ride with Mackenzie and accidentally switched on the radio, and lets a paranoid screech — "Who's talking?".
Godmothered also derives humour from slapstick gags that mostly have Eleanor in the centre — her severe allergic reaction to shellfish, her sliding down a snowy hillock and knocking Hugh down or her chomping into the money that Mackenzie offers her ("Oh, it's hard and thin").
Eventually, under all this will to do good and make everyone happy, it becomes quite evident that Eleanor is overbearing and has a selfish motive. I have already revealed enough, but let me assure you that she gets a redemption arc. In a typical fairy tale, where characters can be one-dimensional, to put Eleanor in this ambiguous light, is a fresh approach and more palatable to modern-day consumers. Along the way, Eleanor does get side-stepped and is delegated to a supporting role, with more emphasis on Mackenzie and her daughters. I wouldn't have minded for this to be a fairy godmother origin story set in the Disney princess universe. Do we even have one of those?
Godmothered is not the most innovative of fairy tale films, but it's funny, sweet, and rarely has a boring moment to spare. I believe most viewers will not bother dissecting the film, and consume it for what it is — a light-hearted comedy that brings the much needed pre-Christmas positivity.
Godmothered is now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar. Watch the trailer here —
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