Godmothered is not a particularly good movie, but that won’t stop it from doing a lot of good this holiday season. Set during the Christmas season, Godmothered is an at times touching comedy about a young, idealistic fairy godmother-in-training who tries to single handedly save her beloved career, which is facing annihilation, by showing the world that fairy godmothers are still needed.
Sharon Maguire, of Bridget Jones’ Diary directing fame, does a good job of making the most of the talent she was given. Jillian Bell is an over the top actress and accomplished comedian, so this role was tailor made for her ridiculousness. Isla Fisher has been a Hollywood staple for 20 years now and does a good job of portraying a sullen, 40-year-old, widowed mother. The remaining cast members are comprised of lesser known actors, some of whom step up to deliver solid performances and induce a few good laughs. Utkarsh Ambudkar and Stephanie Weir stand out with levels of absurdity that will rub some the wrong way and garner laughs from others.
A Tale of Happiness, Long Forgotten
fairy tale begins when Eleanor finds a letter from a 10-year-old girl named Mackenzie filled with hope and excitement that she will find her “Happily Ever After” one day. Unfortunately, Eleanor tracks the young red head down and discovers that she is now a 40-year-old single mom working at a news station in Boston.
Having lost her husband several years earlier, Mackenzie has all but given up on the idea of feeling joy again, but Eleanor is bound and determined to give Mackenzie a happiness makeover, whether she likes it or not. Her love for her two girls, Jane and Mia, is undeniable, but the jury is out on her every smiling again.
Of course, our movie follows a relatively standard and somewhat tropey format where Mackenzie is badgered into giving into the holiday spirit and opening her heart to potential romantic interest and co-worker, Hugh. I was so relieved when I realized that tired angle wasn’t going to be rammed down our throats, and instead, Mackenzie ventures down a different path toward love.
Hit and Miss Comedy
When the jokes are bad…they’re really bad. The believability of this movie takes a while to find its footing, so the early stages of it’s humor fails to hit the mark and it’s tough to get through. On her trip from the “Motherland” to our world, Eleanor comes sliding out of a portal, after looking like a rookie trying to open the it right before that. She dusts off her preposterously large dress and says, “And they say portal crossing is a senior level class,” exemplifying how bad things can truly get.
I can accept that the movie is geared towards children but many of the childish jokes are too cringeworthy to handle. How do you expect viewers to accept Mackenzie repeatedly falling over her magically poofed jacket minutes after she was walking just fine in it! This isn’t the 3 Stooges. Luckily, there are genuinely funny scenes where the real world and Eleanor’s hopeless optimism intersect to create some magic.
Once you can settle into the premise and Godmothered goes full Disney Princess mode, the ridiculousness becomes a lot easier to swallow. The second half of Jillian Bell’s performance is much more respectable, and she visibly starts to become more comfortable in her fairy godmother skin. Eleanor’s interactions with Mackenzie’s children are some of the best moments of this movie, and that’s what will be remembered.
A Modern Take on Ancient Mythology
Godmothered does contain some progressive content, and it’s pleasing to see Disney take the stance that it does, whether subtly or overtly. With the fairy godmothers facing extinction, this movie creates a platform for fairy tale characters to face the truth of today’s reality. While it isn’t explicitly explored, there is one Godmother in the Motherland that very well could be considered non-binary and that is a level of inclusion that Bell was excited about, as everyone should be. All movies could use a little more variation when showcasing the bevy of identities of the real world and fictional worlds.
The setting truly helps this movie stay afloat, whereas it would be tough sledding if the presence of snow, holiday cheer, Christmas trees and more were missing. There is a light stringing scene that exudes cuteness as daughter Mia fully embraces Eleanor and her mission, and they accidentally shut down the city’s electricity…with the help of a magical little critter that is guaranteed to become a 2020 fan favorite once holiday movie season kicks into high gear. One of the marquee performances comes from Jillian Shea Spaeder who plays Jane and has a nice little personal arc that culminates in a movie ending scene that will bring on the water works for many viewers.
Magically, the movie delivers. The CGI/SFX budget must’ve been proper because the visuals were on point from start to finish. I really enjoyed Mackenzie’s journey as a professional, though it was clumsily written at times. The Boston News team is pretty great because of their perfectly over the top, unapologetic, and stereotypical news anchor/reporter nature. Be on the lookout for Utkarsh Ambudkar and Stephanie Weir to cause some laughs or incite a few eye rolls. All in all, the progression from the expectation that you must live happily ever after to simply finding a way to be happy is a welcome idea and helps Godmothered succeed in the end.
Cover Image via Screen Rant, Video Trailer via Walt Disney Studios