I was a little worried the pandemic might leave us wanting when it came to new holiday-themed entertainment. I could not have been more wrong. It feels like a new Christmas film premieres almost daily, and I, for one, am thrilled. If there was ever a December that needed a little extra merriment, this one is it. Enter Godmothered, the Enchanted meets Elf hybrid coming soon to Disney+.
The film begins in The Motherland, the place where all Fairy Godmothers are trained. Eleanor (Jillian Bell) is an enthusiastic trainee who is shocked to find out that Fairy Godmothers are no longer in demand. Her dreams of becoming a full-fledged Fairy Godmother are in jeopardy due to a lack of missions. Not wanting to retrain as a Tooth Fairy, Eleanor finds a letter from a little girl wanting help in finding her happily ever after. Her plan to show the world that they do need Fairy Godmothers is thwarted when she discovers the Mackenzie (Isla Fisher) who wrote the letter actually sent it decades ago. The adult Mackenzie now raises two daughters on her own, works an unrewarding job, and stopped believing in fairy tales long ago.
Not willing to give up on her last shot to save The Motherland, Eleanor–with a little help from her magic wand–prepares to show Mackenzie and her daughters (Jillian Shea Spaeder and Willa Skye) a new version of happily ever after.
Unlike many victims of quarantine, Godmothered never aspired for a big-screen debut. Disney+ was always its intended home. With that in mind, Godmothered doesn’t arrive with all of the bells and whistles typically attached to bigger budget features. Compare it to a Hallmark holiday film and it looks expensive and glorious. Stack it up against Enchanted, its obvious thematic big sister, and it suffers by comparison. The sets are not as magical, the CGI animals are not as well-rendered, and the story is not as original. Director Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones’s Baby) made up for some of those differences by using the snowy backdrop of Boston to provide much of the film’s holiday aesthetic. I could totally feel the essence of the city woven throughout the movie.
We have all seen the fish out of water story before, and in many ways, Godmothered follows that same basic structure. Luckily, Bell sells the irrepressible Eleanor at every step, bringing along her innate comedic skills and a sense of joy to the character. Contrasting with the capricious Eleanor, Fisher provides a grounding force as the protective mother learning to not stand in the way of her daughters’ dreams.
I found myself conflicted on the movie’s subplot regarding sensationalistic journalism. Mackenzie works at a news station struggling for fourth place, and her boss (Utkarsh Ambudkar) keeps pushing ridiculous stories to help with the ratings. Sure, news anchor Paula (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) steals every scene she’s in, and reporter Hugh (Santiago Cabrera) provides the adorable potential love interest every fairy tale needs. I just think the plot would have moved along perfectly well without that extra layer of silliness.
A sense of magic and joy is essential for any holiday movie, and I think Godmothered definitely delivers. While it might lack in originality, it more than makes it for it with a talented cast and a unique and highly satisfying ending.
You can stream Godmothered on Disney+ beginning on December 4, 2020.
Runtime: 110 Minutes
Set at Christmas time, “Godmothered” is a comedy about Eleanor, a young, inexperienced fairy godmother-in-training (Jillian Bell) who upon hearing that her chosen profession is facing extinction, decides to show the world that people still need fairy godmothers. Finding a mislaid letter from a 10-year-old girl in distress, Eleanor tracks her down and discovers that the girl, Mackenzie, is now a 40-year-old single mom (Isla Fisher) working at a news station in Boston. Having lost her husband several years earlier, Mackenzie has all but given up on the idea of “Happily Ever After,” but Eleanor is bound and determined to give Mackenzie a happiness makeover, whether she likes it or not.