In this latest mash-up, the wonderful world of Disney combines its fairy tale villains, heroes, princesses and their children for a fun tale filled with more than a few musical dance numbers for good measure.
The film starts with the audience being introduced to Beast (Dan Payne) and Belle (Keegan Conner Tracy) who have married and had a son (Mitchell Hope). Their son Ben is turning sixteen and is being fitted for his coronation suit. He tells them he wants his first act as King to be giving the children of the villains a second chance. The villains were banished to an Island and have remained there for many years.
Of course Beast (or King Adam,) is shocked and a little disheartened. He changes his mind after remembering Belle gave him a second chance. The villains have been secluded on an impregnable island for many years, and the audience soon sees it looks rather like a slum – or a badly done housing project. A housing project for Disney villains hits the screen looking dark and colorful at the same time with lots of purple tones.
Enter Maleficent’s daughter, Mal (Dove Cameron), who wants to please her mom. Her mom (Kristin Chenoweth) really, really wants her to go to the kingdom of Auradon and make good on the invite to go to prep school there (i.e. spread evil intent). She gives her a spell book which Mal uses to fix the other girls’ hair (good use there) and get into the museum to steal the famous wand of the Fairy Godmother (Melanie Paxson).
The plot to steal the wand right off goes array and Mal must come up with another plan. She makes a love spell that makes Ben chose her instead of Aurora’s daughter, Audrey (Sarah Jeffery). Throughout, Mal is a bit conflicted and becomes even more so since she is away from Maleficent.
Armed with her sidekicks who have their own agendas, the comedy team of Cruella de Ville’s son and Jafar’s son (Cameron Boyce and Booboo Stewart) go for the cheap laughs, and The Evil Queen’s daughter, Evie (Sofia Carson) looks for her own prince and finds him in Chad, the semi-brain dead son of Cinderella. She is also aided by the stereotypical geek trying to please the pretty girl: Doug, son of Dopey Dwarf (Zachary Gibson).
All in all, Descendants is want one would expect. The film draws its imagination from what fans would think what the son of Beast and Belle or Maleficent’s daughter might be like in teenage form. The problem is the film stopped there and didn’t add any interesting characters. It would have been nice to see a larger cast drawn from Disney’s vault of characters. I kept waiting to see Cinderella or Prince Charming or more Dwarves or somebody else I could relate to.
The stereotypical fall-out irked me somewhat, but the semi-charm of this film lies in familiarity with the characters of the world of Disney. But it is what it is, and of course the demographic (ages 8-13) should probably be taken into consideration.
My six-year-old daughter loved the movie, but also brought up the question of where are the villain’s kids’ daddies? Or, in Jafar’s and Jay’s case: Mom? This never comes up in any way, shape, or form. I didn’t know what to tell her. Budget cuts? Children created magically?
Regardless of its faults, this is a film made for a certain age base and with love of the characters in mind. My daughter absolutely loved the ending and was yelling at the television in excitement.