In a year devoid of much magic, in marches Disney’s latest fairy tale fare, Godmothered, at the eleventh hour. It’s shining, shimmering – but a bit more sputtering than splendid.

Fairy-godmother-in-training, Eleanor (Jillian Bell), uncovers the final assignment for her fading breed of fairy from the mystical realm of the Motherland, which thrusts her into modern-day Massachusetts. Here, in a Boston newsroom, she meets her match – not the anticipated eight-year-old, but stressed-out single mum Mackenzie (Isla Fisher).

There are, of course, enjoyable fish-out-of-water gags and knowing modern-day mentions, from Game of Thrones to Pilates. Fisher and Bell make for winning leads, embracing their distinctive brands of zaniness and slapstick. Disney also serves up its standard but wholesome lesson-in-love, adorned with a few festive baubles for good measure.

But the elephant in the room must be addressed – Enchanted. In a frank comparison, brought on by its many similarities, Godmothered just doesn’t live up to its predecessor in IRL/fairy tale world mash-ups. For instance, having an indifferent raccoon to do your chores might have been a brilliant joke if Enchanted hadn’t blown that urban “woodland creature” helper trope out the water with its ‘Happy Working Song’.

But there are fun casting choices, particularly Jane Curtain as stern fairy godmother headmistress Moira, and June Squibb as precisely the kind of sassy but supportive godmother you’d hope for. Stephnie Weir is also a standout as uncomfortable news anchor Barb, part of the film’s relatively successful comment on the ridiculousness of our pervading clickbait media culture.

Chucking in some Christmas charm will no doubt help Godmothered earn its place in annual festive film scheduling, but at the lower end of the list. Enchanted-lite, it lacks the spark and coherency of its superior, but it’s still a cosy seasonal treat – and who doesn’t want a fairy godmother?



CAST: Isla Fisher, Jillian Bell, Jane Curtain, June Squibb, Santiago Cabrera, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Jillian Shea Spaeder, Willa Skye, Stephnie Weir, Utkarsh Ambudkar.

DIRECTOR: Sharon Maguire

WRITERS: Kari Granlund and Melissa Stack

SYNOPSIS: A young and unskilled fairy godmother ventures out on her own to prove her worth by tracking down a young girl whose request for help was ignored.