Disney is back at it with the movie Godmothered streaming exclusively on Disney+, a more grown up fairy tale story for those of us that still need the Magic they have cultivated so perfectly. This movie is exactly what Disney does so well that even the twinkling sound of magic is synonymous with their logo. Am I the only one whose heart swells when that music starts and the fairy tale begins? I cannot be the only one or else they would be out of the fairy tale business.
A time for REAL magic
I will go ahead a claim it: I am in a Covid-19 reflective rut. I am trying my best to dig my way out of it through self prescribed large doses of forced holiday fun, but it is not really working. Currently, my family and I are fighting a cold. Not just any cold- a virus. Not THAT virus- but just a normal one that any other time in our family history would be written off with chicken soup, Emergen-C, water, and rest. But we are not in any other time are we? I think that “go to” is to treat our lives like we did pre-pandemic and we forget that sometimes life changes and we can either soldier through or adapt. Watching the movie Godmothered with my family reminded me that sometimes we need to slow down, look around, and adapt our expectations to reality. This is not a bad thing. This is the formula to true happiness.
What is the movie about
“Life isn’t always a fairytale”
The idealistic Fairy Godmother trainee that leads the way through this fairytale has always been a fairy with a goal. A goal that often leads her to miss out of things like friends and a life just because her heart is set so purely and intently on her hearts desire: becoming a Fairy Godmother. In a tunnel visioned attempt to make fairy godmothering relevant again, she takes on her first (and the only) assignment she can find in helping Mackenzie (play by Amy Adams). Eleanor, the wannabe Fairy Godmother in training is played charismatically by Jillian Bell, who you may have seen before in movies like “Brittany Runs A Marathon”, “Rough Night”, “Office Christmas Party”, or Comedy Central’s “Workaholics”.
About the cast
“What happened to the little girl who wrote me this letter?
Maybe she grew up.”
The “little girl” named Mackenzie in the long lost/recently found letter is played by Amy Adams who is always a delightful surprise to watch on screen. She is grounded in all the ways a hard working single mom raising two little girls in a cold world should be, but vulnerable enough to not only be likeable (though realistically and understandably flawed) and receptive to the idea that just maybe magic is real. That sort of hope dimmed for her as life got hard, but never left and perhaps that is why as she grew up her need for a Fairy Godmother never disappeared- the need just changed.
There was also a wonderful ensemble of performers to balance out the star power of Jillian Bell and Isla Fisher. Shout outs to standouts like June Squibb, Santiago Cabrera, Utkarsh Ambudkar (who was wonderful in “Brittany Runs A Marathon”), Stephanie Weir, and Jane Curtain. Also, pDisney found future stars in Willa Skye and Jillian Shea Spaeder who play Mackenzie’s daughters in the movie.
The magical flaw
“…life isn’t as simple as happily ever after.”
It isn’t. And it shouldn’t be, right? The problem with a Disney fairytale has always been that the flaws in it start at the root of the story and in the movie Godmothered they look closely at those flaws:
The “Motherland” formula for happiness-
- Step one: “A glittering gown turns a frown upside down”
- Step two: “Find their true love”
- Step three: “Happily ever after”
Boiling down ones happiness to those basic ticks on a checklist is inherently flawed and this film makes a point of turning that trope around decidedly. Life just is not that simple. People are just not that simple. Happiness is certainly nowhere near that simple. Everyone’s happily ever after does not involve a Prince. Everyone’s problems cannot be solved (or at the very least not so simply). Happiness is not the end goal for everyone.
And that is okay.
This is a lesson for us all to take note of at this current time in our collective history. It is okay for happiness to not look “normal”. It is okay to not be happy and to have your happily ever after. Though this is Disney, so they do of course fall back on what they know just a bit, but at least in the movie Godmothered, they acknowledge the irony.
Did I like the movie Godmothered?
“Sounds like she doesn’t even believe in happy”
Was the movie Godmothered a perfect holiday film? No. And that is the point. There is not perfect- especially right now. Just find happy and be that. This film is the perfect holiday cheesiness that the whole family can enjoy at home safely, together. The movie takes a moment to get going but manages to hook you and keeps you interested and invested until the end, which was a delightfully refreshing version of “Happily Ever After”.
Did it pass the media bias tests?
Every film that I review has one set of criteria that I always take a moment to examine closely outside of whether or not I like the film. Here is a link to the media bias checks that I have listed below in case you want to learn more about each set of criteria:
The Betchel Test- check.
The Racial Bechdel Test- This is tough to call. The cast is very well rounded in terms of racial diversity, but the conversations for those characters are limited to moving the plot along. The stand out examples is the diverse casting of the Godmothers in training, and Utkarsh Ambudkar who plays Mackenzie’s hard to please boss.
The Mako Mori Test- check.
The Ellen Willis Test- check.
The Tauriel Test- check.
The Deggans Rule- check.
The DuVernay Test- check.
The Vito Russo Test- This one stings a bit. While there is a wonderful blink and you miss it scene of inclusion in the film, it is fleeting and not important enough to the plot that it would be missed if removed, thus feeling like more of a hat tip to inclusion than actually being inclusionary. Also, a same sex family being pointed out as an example of being happy and finding love that is “different” makes this a fail in regards to the Vito Russo test.
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.