The Motherland is a magical place where fairy godmothers go to train. The youngest – and most committed, and enthusiastic – among them is Eleanor (Jillian Bell). When her school is threatened with closure, endangering her dream of fully qualifying as a fairy godmother, Eleanor goes off to find “an assignment”, namely a child in need of a fairy godmother. But when Eleanor goes to the real world she finds that the kid, Mackenzie Walsh (Isla Fisher) is all grown up. Still, it quickly emerges that this single mom of two is still in need of some help, and magic.
Through roles in such films as ’22 Jump Street’, ‘Office Christmas Party’ and last year’s hidden gem ‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’, Jillian Bell has proven herself an underrated talent – both in comedy and drama – time and again. Thus she more than pulls off leading ‘Godmothered’, basic as the plot is.
More disappointing is her co-star Isla Fisher, who’s gone from such great work in ‘Wedding Crashers’, ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’, and ‘The Great Gatsby’, to this, a role which feels like a poor fit. Her character works at a flailing TV station which covers trashy stories (we see what you did there, Disney), and is a cranky, bitter mom who fails to encourage her children. Of course, that’s the point of the character, that Eleanor will transform her. But one is left embittered at how the actress is underused.
Elsewhere in the cast, you have Jane Curtin, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, June Squibb, and Bell’s ‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’ co-star Utkarsh Ambudkar. None of their characters are remarkable and thus none of their performances are. Cast aside, ‘Godmothered’ is generally unimpressive and bland. With Eleanor’s misunderstandings of the human world and slapstick moments in which her magic goes wrong, one is reminded of ‘Enchanted’, but the B-movie version of it. There’s some singing and an appreciation of ‘The Sound of Music’ (which is also on Disney+ right now, go figure), as well as woodland creatures (a racoon, in this case) helping with the chores, for one must be reminded that this is a production by the House of Mouse. But certain productions from that place where dreams come true lack inspiration, originality, or effort. ‘Godmothered’ is one such production.
'Godmothered' streams on Disney+ from Friday, December 4th.