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‘Godmothered’ a family-friendly fractured fairy tale

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Sometimes, all you want is to find a movie that everyone in the family can watch safely, a movie that will prove pleasant enough – or at least tolerable – to everyone watching. You’re not looking for cutting-edge or challenging or anything like that. Just a movie.

If that’s where you’re at, then “Godmothered” is precisely what you seek.

The new film – currently streaming on Disney+ - tells the story of a wannabe fairy godmother venturing into the world in hopes of helping someone find their happily ever after. This despite having neither sufficient training nor permission to do so. It’s the kind of light and fluffy fare that we usually get from the live-action side of Disney (non-IP edition), executed with the same efficient competence that we’ve come to expect.

Now, this adherence to the in-house rubrics and general formula is never going to result in a great movie. What it will get you is a decent movie – a category into which “Godmothered” most assuredly falls. Directed with workmanlike skill by Sharon Maguire from a vanilla script written by Kari Granlund and Melissa K. Stack, it’s a movie that provides a perfectly nice time – and that you will likely never need to watch again.

In the Motherland, home to all the world’s fairy godmothers, things are in decline. It has been years since their magic was used to help those in the real world. Eleanor (Jillian Bell, “Bill & Ted Face the Music”) is a fairy godmother in training – the ONLY fairy godmother in training. While there are plenty of godmothers still around, the lack of actual godmothering means that their ranks have gradually thinned.

Things are so bad, in fact, that Moira (Jane Curtin, TV’s “United We Fall”), the headmistress of the godmother school, is planning to shut the whole thing down; all the current fairy godmothers would then transition to becoming tooth fairies. Eleanor, refusing to give up on her dream, thinks that if she could just execute one assignment and help someone find their happily ever after, the Motherland could remain; she heads to the records room and uncovers a letter from a young girl in Boston named Mackenzie Walsh who looks to be a good possibility.

Unbeknownst to anyone except her roommate Agnes (June Squibb, “Palm Springs”), Eleanor opens a portal to the real world and makes her way to Boston in hopes of seeking out the little girl and magically helping her find her happiness. Unfortunately, there’s a little hiccup.

See, it turns out that the letter was a little older than anticipated. No longer 10, Mackenzie (Isla Fisher, “Greed”) is now 40 years old, a single mother of two working as a field producer for the fifth-place TV news show in Boston. Mack’s initial reaction to Eleanor is to consider her a crazy person, but it isn’t long before the fairy’s magic – haphazard as it is – convinces Mack that she’s the real deal, such as it is. Eleanor meets Mack’s daughters Jane (Jillian Shea Spaeder, “To the Beat!: Back 2 School”) and Mia (Willa Skye, “Lazy Susan”) and her sister Paula (Mary Elizabeth Ellis, TV’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”); she also starts to get a sense of just how far removed from happily ever after Mack truly is.

Eleanor decides that what Mack needs is a prince – in this case, her coworker whose name is literally Hugh Prince (Santiago Cabrera, TV’s “Star Trek: Picard”). And Mack and Hugh do have a connection – one springing mostly from their mutual disdain for their dimwitted virality-seeking boss Grant (Utkarsh Ambudkar, “The Broken Hearts Gallery”).

But as Eleanor soon learns, happily ever after isn’t all that easy. And with just a few days before the Motherland closes – and with it the portals she might use to return home – the clock is ticking for her to figure out just what she needs to do to give Mack not just what she might want, but what she genuinely needs.

“Godmothered” is … fine. There’s nothing that stands out about this movie, either positively or negatively. It simply is. And that’s OK. Like I said before, sometimes all you want is a movie that everyone can watch and not actively dislike without worrying about seeing something inappropriate. This is very much that movie, with a sweet story, some cute kids and a couple of decent gags. While one might wish for a bit more magic from a movie titled “Godmothered,” it’s a gentle way to spend a couple of hours.

Jillian Bell is someone who seems to struggle to find work that matches her talent. I think she’s a gifted comedian with a sharp wit, but that energy doesn’t quite fit a role like this one. Not that she’s bad – she’s actually pretty good, finding ways to evoke the wide-eyed naivete of Eleanor. Fisher is fine, although it feels like the sort of thing where she was the third or fourth choice for the role; there are dozens of actors who could have handled things here. June Squibb and Jane Curtin are legends who are great when they’re onscreen, which isn’t nearly often enough. The kids are fine, the rest of the adults are fine, it’s all … fine.

And that’s fine.

“Godmothered” is a Nilla wafer of a movie, one that goes down easy and is gentle enough for even the most sensitive constitutions. Nothing about this movie will make a viewer the least bit uncomfortable; instead, audiences can expect something cute, vaguely charming and completely forgettable.

[3 out of 5]

Last modified on Monday, 07 December 2020 11:45

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