Disney's heavily hyped Descedants movie aired Friday night. While everyone in my family has been on the fence about actually watching it, we ended up spending the day Sunday sitting through the 2-hour movie. Was it worth it? Well...
In case you have been living under a rock, here is the premise of the movie: The fairy tale villains have been shipped off to a desolate island to live out their years. In the meantime, Beauty (Belle) and the Beast have united all of the kingdoms and everyone is living happily ever after. Fast forward to everyone having 16-year old kids. The children of the villains have all grown up as good-for-nothing scamps while the good children have grown up in boarding school. Ben, the son of Belle and the Beast, is about to be crowned king. His first proclamation is to bring four of the villain-kids to Auradon to go to school. After all, they are not their parents.
So. The characters. The four villain-kids are Mal (daughter of Maleficent), Evie (daughter of the Evil Queen), Carlos (son of Cruella deVil), and Jay (son of Jafar). The main good-kids are Ben (son of Beauty and the Beast), Audrey (daughter of Aurora, Sleeping Beauty), Jane (daughter of the Fairy Godmother), and Doug (son of Dopey). There are a few more good-kids hanging around but they aren't particularly important to the plot.
Maleficent sees this school transfer as an opportunity to get Mal to steal the Fairy Godmother's wand, which will give her tremendous power. Fairy Godmother is the head mistress of the academy so it shouldn't be too difficult, right?
OK. I think we have everything laid out now. First, I'd like to say that the movie wasn't as awful as I thought it was going to be. That said, it isn't particularly good either. There are problems and there are a lot of them.
I'm not sure why they picked these particular villains as the main characters. I understand Maleficent and the Evil Queen. They are usually the first baddies you think of when you think Disney. I'll even give Cruella a pass. But Jafar? Of all of the Disney baddies, they picked Jafar? It wasn't a good choice.
And while we're talking about the characters, let's address their names. Every single kid is somehow named after their parents. Mal is Maleficent's daughter, Evie is the Evil Queen's daughter, Lonnie is Mulan's daughter...the list goes on and on. While I could understand one or two narcissistic princes/princesses/queens naming their kids directly after them, I can't believe that every single parent would be like "How can I make my baby a direct comparison to myself?" Insert facepalm.
Next up, let's talk plot. Maleficent is the big baddie here. The other three villains simply go along with her. Everyone is afraid of her. Except the other three kids. They are only afraid of their parents, even if those parents haven't actually shown any reason for the kids to be frightened. Everything seems to hinge on the sole fact that they were the villains in their stories.
Most of the plot is typical Disney fare: the kids are (slightly) shunned by the other kids because they are villian-kids. The villain-kids do "bad" things like stuff their faces with chocolate. The good-parents are shocked when their kids get along with the bad kids. Prince Ben and Mal fall in love. Love conquers all. You know the story.
Then we get to the songs. Man, there were some stinkers in there. Mal and the gang are introduced through a song - "Rotten To The Core." Where none of them really do anything rotten beyond walking on some tables. OK, at the end, Mal does steal a lollipop from a baby but it wasn't particularly difficult nor did it come off as a terrible act. We were just supposed to THINK it was terrible. The best song of the bunch was a remake of "Be Our Guest" that the good-kids sing when their parents come to visitation day. Sigh.
In the end, the movie was just barely tolerable. They should have gotten rid of Carlos (for serious, Cameron Boyce is NOT a good actor. Get rid of him!) and Jay (though Booboo Stewart did a really good job with the crap he was given) for more interesting villains. Mal should have been way more evil in the beginning. I get the evil-turned-good plot device but she wasn't all that evil to begin with. To be honest, the best villian-kid was Evie. She was never in it to BE evil. She just wanted to be beautiful and marry a prince, just like every other kid in the kingdom. Her turmoil was the most honest. The movie's ending suggested a sequel. I hope not. I can't see this getting any better.