What is the story about?
Eleanor, a budding fairy godmother still training under wizened senior Moira, travels from the Motherland to Earth, to ensure a “happily-ever-after” for Mackenzie, a disillusioned mother of two. Locked in a race against time, can Eleanor help Mackenzie overcome her disappointments and believe in life again?
If you’ve grown up watching all the Christmas films and Disney classics on television over the years, where magical people turn up out of nowhere and add a zing to your lives, and the air of Christmas infuses joy in even the most hopeless of souls, you will know more than half the story of Godmothered. It’s the most familiar Christmas story Hollywood can churn out, and the fact that it’s releasing online doesn’t take away from the truth that it’s a done-to-death film. You know the beats and tropes a film like this has—a heroine who believes in magic, more than a handful of people who don’t, a Prince Charming-like figure who will come in at the end and sweep the heroine’s project off their feet, and passable VFX that makes you believe that raccoons can do housekeeping duties and flying chariots can emanate from watermelons. It’s a formula that Disney has perfected for years, and for a substantial part of the film, director Sharon Maguire does not even bother tinkering with any part of it, which makes it seem trite and boring at times.
The only time the movie comes to life is when Eleanor is around. As the fairy godmother-in-waiting who has to navigate the strange ways of modern-day civilization, Eleanor is a hoot. She mispronounces “bruins” as “brains”, has a fetish for seafood which also makes her allergic, and—in a classic subversion of the Disney heroine archetype—she cannot sing for her life. It is her wide-eyed demeanour and her zest for magic which keep this film going and honestly the film falls flat when she’s not around.
The star of the film is definitely Jillian Bell, who keeps the flag flying high as Eleanor. Unfortunately, however, Isla Fisher gets possibly the most underwritten character she’s ever played in her career, and that shows up in her performance as Mackenzie. Mary Elizabeth Ellis is competent as Mackenzie’s sister Paula. While Jane Curtin is suitably imperious as Eleanor’s teacher Moira, it is June Squibb who sparkles as Agnes, the “resident DJ” at the Motherland. Santiago Cabrera makes an impression as Mackenzie’s love interest, Hugh.
Music & Other Departments
Christopher Norr does a competent job with the camera. Alice Normington’s production design is superb. Renee Ehrlich Kalfus’ costumes are nicely done. Rachel Portman’s score is sprightly.
The scene where Eleanor ends up watching another classic, The Sound of Music, and ends up saying teary-eyed, “So this is a movie.”, is a terrific scene, made even better by Bell’s earnestness.
Perhaps the biggest drawback is that the makers play it too safe and create a movie that is devoid of any freshness.
Did I enjoy it?
I found it okay.
Do I recommend it?
This is a good one-time watch with your family.