ByRyan Murphy, writer at
Ryan Murphy

I am a Disney nerd. Majorly. So last year, when I first heard about Disney’s Descendants, I immediately became filled with glee and excitement. A feature-length film about the children of all our favorite Disney characters! Ooh boy, this sounds great! Then I read further. This continuation of tales set long ago in far-off kingdoms would be set set in modern day high school and the cast would include Cruella DeVille’s kid. It’s about then that I started to realize that this film wasn’t going to take itself as seriously even as a Disney animated feature. And I was right. As trailers and TV spots started to happen, I saw goofy and neutered versions of classic Disney villains like Jafar and The Evil Queen. This certainly wasn’t going to be the gold-mine I initially imagined it to be. But as a massive Disney nerd, I still had to see it.

Descendants is silly little Disney Channel Original movie, intended for a young audience, and more similar than anything else to High School Musical (and from the same director). Everything in here is pretty hokey, most of the characters use extremely fallible logic, and it doesn’t even hold continuity that well with the films that it is a ‘sequel’ to. Now, with all that said, it’s actually rather entertaining.

The story of Descendants takes place twenty years after most of the classic films, when all the kingdoms have been united under King Beast’s reign as “The United States of Auradon”, and the villains, (who apparently weren’t all dead) are banished to “The Isle of the Lost.” Beast and Belle’s son, Ben, is about to be crowned King on his 16th birthday, and as his first proclamation, decrees that the children of the Isle of the Lost be given a chance to live with those in Auradon, and even go to prep school with them!

The four main characters are Mal (daughter of Maleficent), Evie (daughter of the Evil Queen), Jay (son of Jafar), and Carlos DeVille (son of Cruella). Their four parents, none of whom apparently had partners in procreating, all hang out together, and conspire to have their children steal the Fairy Godmother’s magic wand and set them free. As you can expect, the children are all as bad as Ben should have suspected, and cause plenty of mischief. And, as you also probably expected, each, in turn, begins to have a change of heart, with the main character, Mal, falling for Ben.

If one takes this for what it is, it is actually a fairly fun ride. The songs aren’t particularly catchy, with the exception being Mal’s main song, “If Only. In fact, a major highlight is the performance of Dove Cameron as Mal, who definitely sells her part. In fact, as silly as their existence was, I even began to like their characters. Ironically, Carlos DeVille is probably the second most entertaining of the leads.

In the end, during the big final dance number, one is reminded a little bit of the classic Disney magic, where everybody ends up happy and together, and all is right with the world. I still can’t help but have this more serious, not-modern-day, great film envisioned in my head. But for what this is, it’s pretty decent. And if you’re a Disney nerd like me, it’s a must-see.

7 out of 10

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