Godmothered is a gift. Not only is it entertaining for children, who deserve all the good things coming their way this holiday season, but for anyone thinking their Happily Ever After has passed them by. That may sound like classic Disney (and it is) but Jillian Bell as a Fairy-Godmother-in-Training is exactly the kind of silly, sweet film that, much like a fairy godmother herself, appears when we need it most.
Writers Kari Granlund and Melissa Stack open their story in the Motherland, where all practicing fairy godmothers (including a riotously funny June Squibb) are out of work and on the brink of closing. Enter Eleanor, a young and energetic trainee who finds a letter from a 10-year-old girl longing for her storybook ending. Determined to make little Mackenzie’s dreams come true, Eleanor boldly ventures through a portal to the mortal world – Boston, to be exact – only to find that the little girl is now a 40-year-old single mom (Isla Fisher) tirelessly working at a news station.
In the same vein as Elf or Enchanted, whimsical Eleanor barges into the dull, downtrodden life of Mackenzie, her daughters (Jillian Shea Spaeder, Willa Skye) and her helpful sister (Mary Elizabeth Ellis). Using the magical spells she remembers from training, she turns dogs into pigs, raccoons into handymen and even brings viral video material into Mackenzie’s workplace. The fish-out-of-water story is suited for Bell, who makes little moments like pronouncing Massachusetts “Massa-ca-hoo-setts” and mistaking pilates for pirates funnier than they ever would be on the page. Older audiences will appreciate an entire sequence of Eleanor playing pool, sipping a lemon drop and marveling at the magical elixir that is light beer. The actress’ natural comedic ability carries the film from beginning to end, a perfect foil for endearing straight man Fisher and brilliant, veteran co-star Jane Curtin (the film’s beehived-hair “villain”).
Together with director Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones’ Diary, Bridget Jones’ Baby) Godmothered serves as a reminder that living happily might be just as good as a typical “happily ever after” girls have been taught to aspire to. Not everyone’s true love looks the same – to send that message to the young eyes on Disney+ is why the company remains the best at what they do. Their tried-and-true formula is elevated here with a Christmastime setting, a memorable soundtrack and modern themes of love, grief and courage to keep going. While reminiscent of a bygone 1990s era, the film is refreshingly original – like I said, a gift.
Godmothered is available December 4 on Disney+.