Disney Descendants (2015)

Soon-to-be King Ben, son of Beauty and the Beast, lives in Auradon, a place where the fairy tale heroes live. He decides to allow four Villain Kids from the Isle of The Lost, a run down place where fairy tale villains were banished, come to Auradon. They are: Mal, daughter of Maleficent, Carlos, son of Cruella De’Vil, Jay, son of Jafar, and Evie, daughter of the Evil Queen. Their parents want them to steal Fairy Godmother’s wand so they can break the Isles barrier. But will the succeed?”

– Anonymous, IMDB

Disney Descendants is a 2015 Disney Channel Original Movie directed and choreographed by Kenny Ortega. Orgeta is an American producer, director, and choreographer who previously worked on Newsies, Hocus Pocus, Dirty Dancing, and the High School Musical trilogy. The film stars Dove Cameron (Disney Channel’s Liv and Maddie) as Mal, the teenage daughter of Maleficent (played by broadway alum Kristen Chenoweth). The success of the film led to two sequels, with the most recent sequel released in August of 2019. All three films were filmed in BC, Canada.

Some thoughts from me (Potential spoilers below…)
Right off the bat, the whole premise of this film is so odd to me. The now-human Beast from Beauty and the Beast has set up an island prison to hold every Disney villain in existence, including their kids. I kinda feel like this flies in the face of the lessons the Beast learned from his movie (Not just the general “Don’t be a jerk” one, but the one about not judging a book/beast by it’s cover)

Random thought: Why not get Yen Sid from Fantasia to be the one to lock everyone up? You could easily convince me that he’s powerful enough to lock-up the villains, and you’re still using a classic Disney character to do it. Plus he’s pretty much a blank slate, so you can totally make him super prejudiced against the villain kids and it’s not going to feel wildly out of character.

You could totally convince me that this dude would lock up a bunch of kids. Those are some sinister looking eyebrows.

Get used to characters introducing themselves along with their parentage when you watch this one. Everyone is quick to volunteer their connection to a beloved Disney character the first chance they get. It makes me wonder if there’s a highly defined class system in this universe. We never get to see or hear from any kids who don’t have famous parents. Obviously people don’t buy these movies to see “Edward, son of the woman who needed six eggs from Beauty and the Beast”, but it’s something I can’t help but think about.

The first time I watched this film I cringed quite a bit. There’s definitely a lot of sort of painful to watch attempts to modernize the classic Disney fairy tales. A lot of this boils down to oddly placed references to the original films. The example that comes to my mind is when Doug (the son of Dopey) sees Evie (Daughter of the Evil Queen), falls in love with her at first sight. Twitterpated, he breathlessly whispers “Heigh-ho”.

Thankfully after a second viewing the awkwardness subsided and I started to see the hilarity in this films absurd premise. If nothing else it’s an interesting time capsule of what a bunch of Disney execs/filmmakers thought was cool in the 2010s.

So take a look at this one, though if you’re a big classic of the original Disney films you’ll want to steel yourself somewhat. Try not to take it too seriously and just enjoy the ride.

References

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