Descendants (2015)
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02Descendants (2015)

If there is one thing that the Walt Disney Company can do it is keeping its brand name fresh. Constant updates and additions are made to everything associated with the globally recognized mouse ears logo. Arguably one of the most famous franchises in the Disney organization is the princess movie. From 1939 through to the 21st century every generation has grown up with a favorite Disney Princess. Whether it is Snow White, Sleeping Beauty or Princess Jasmine, there is a Disney Princess fondly remembered by members of every age group. There are a few things in common to every one of these movies; there has to be a handsome prince to defend his fair lady in some dastardly villain required to supply the requisite threat. Most of the stories seem to end at the point marked ‘happily ever after’. If these animated characters followed the natural course of things, they would inevitably have children. Disney has already explored this concept through their ABC television network with the series ‘Once upon a Time’. The also introduced is somewhat revolutionary albeit logical corollary; the villains have offspring as well. No division of the Disney Corporation is prone to letting it opportunities slip away. The innovative people who produce the ‘made for cable’ television movies were quick to seize the opportunity. The result was the throne considered here, ‘Descendants’. This high concept film provides a glimpse at what the teenage children of some of the most notorious Disney villains might be like. Adhering to another Disney tradition to actors in leading roles, Dove Cameron and Cameron Boyce are examples of the old studio system still employed by the Disney organization. The concept is simple and quite effective. They take promising children and help develop their talents and acting, singing and dancing. Typically starting out with small Disney Channel sitcom the progress through the stages until they have leading their own show and introduced her feature movie such as this.

After so many years of various kingdoms coming under attack by the local villains, King Beast (Dan Payne) and Queen Belle (Keegan Connor Tracy), becomes the nucleus of change uniting all of the Disney kingdoms into a new Republic, the United States of Auradon. Ingratitude they are elected as its first leaders. The first businesses to gather together all the buildings and their minions exalting them to ‘The Isle of Lost’ isolated from society and surrounded by a protective barrier that also inhibits the use of magic. Just as an aside a little piece of trivia, Ms. Tracy has some experience in the expanded use of Disney characters. She plays the Blue Fairy on ‘Once upon a Time’. The story picks up in contemporary times when the son of King Beast and Queen Belle, Ben ((Mitchell Hope), has come of age and has ascended the throne. His first official act is to offer an opportunity for the children of the evildoers to redeem themselves. The poly group is to consist of; Carlos (Cameron Boyce), son of Cruella De Vil (Wendy Raquel Robinson); Jay (Booboo Stewart), son of Jafar (Maz Jobrani; Evie (Sofia Carson), daughter of the Evil Queen (Kathy Najimy; and Mal (Dove Cameron), daughter of Maleficent (Kristin ChenowethThey are to be allowed to leave the confinement of the island and attend a prep school in space Auradon alongside the teenage children of the iconic Disney heroes.

Despite the good intentions of new King Ben, the original generations of villains have only been made more contemptuous by the confinement. They pressure their children into becoming collaborators on an evil scheme to regain their power. Once inside of Auradon they are to locate and steal the Fairy Godmother's magic wand. This will allow the villains to break the magical protections that have stripped their powers and once again rise to power. Evie has a more compact version of a mother’s magic mirror and uses it to locate where the wand is being kept. It points them to a nearby museum. Then they come up force statues of their parents depict them as they were at the height of the evil endeavors. This causes them to question the validity of history as it was talk to them solely from their parent’s point of view. It also brings in the more important question of whether you are born destined to be evil or if you have free will to decide your own course of action.

Life at the Academy is not at all what scions evil expected. Jay, the most athletic of them, is instantly recruited into the school’s tournament team. Carlos has always been afraid of dogs, for obvious reasons considering his mother’s downfall of the pores of 101 of them. When Carlos meets the school mascot have become fast friends. Evie finds himself attracted to the son Prince charming and Cinderella, Chad Charming (Jedidiah Goodacre), who once up taking advantage of Evie’s intelligence by cajoling her into doing his homework. The one transfer student remains devoted to their parents is Mal makes it a point to befriend Jane (Brenna D'Amico), daughter of the Fairy Godmother. Taking advantage of Jane’s insecurities about the looks, Mal offers to give magical makeover by changing her hair. A very effective change is noticed by Mulan's daughter, Lonnie (Dianne Doan) who brings it to the attention of the other girls in the school or one similar treatment.

The descendants of told that the one will be at the princes coronation ceremony, unfortunately only the royal family and their guests will be seated at the front. Ben has already invited his girlfriend, Audrey (Sarah Jeffery), the daughter of Aurora and Prince Phillip. Mal decides her best course of action is to replace or treat as Ben’s girlfriend. The poison apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as far as methodology so Mal decides to create a love spell contained in a cookie. The only problem is that the crucial ingredient is a human cheer shed by true sadness. Lonnie stops by and reminisces about how good it felt mother made cookies for her and without knowing it says the required tear complete the spell. The cookies are made and Mal get Ben to eat one and under the influence of the spell falls in love with her. This has a cascading effect that despite its supernatural foundation the second act of the story is driven by the same motivations found in any high school story. Audrey, now without a date for the coronation which leads to her asking Chad which interns upsets Evie. The problems are compounded when Chad, under the impression that Evie’s successes in academics are due to the magic mirror, steals it forcing to take the exam without its benefits. The scheme backfires when she gets a ‘B ‘on the test without it she comes to the realization that she doesn’t need magic to be successful. One by one each of the new students comes to reevaluate their participation in the parental plan.

There is almost always a didactic portion to any of the Disney Princess films and this one is no different. It becomes fairly obvious that the second-generation good characters have difficulties in living up to that image. After a lifetime of privilege granted by birthright not merit this atmosphere of entitlement has basically spoiled them. In contrast, the transfer students, had to pretend to be good but at the old adage states, be careful were to pretend to be it might turn out to be what you are. Such a role reversal may be more than a little predictable but due to the Walt Disney method of storytelling, honed to perfection by decades of experience, the film comes across as delightfully entertaining. Since singing is an interval part of Disney training the story was turned into a musical. This especially holds true for numbers containing the vocal talents of Dove Cameron. For the young woman of only 19 years old she has incredible control over voice and an impressive range. Further examples can be seen on home Disney Channel family sitcom, ‘Liv and Maddie’. Another amazing vocal talent is to be found in the actress playing her mother, Kristin Chenoweth who among amazing list of credits as part of the original Broadway cast for ‘Wicked’. Even if you are not part of the target demographic or have children in that age range this is still a film filled with fun and quite entertaining.

bulletBackstage Dance Rehearsals - Dance Till You Drop! Exclusive Cast Rehearsals With Director Kenny Ortega
bulletBloopers - Kristin Chenoweth and the cast goof up and crack up on set!
bullet#Mal - Sneak peek at Mal's story as seen through social media.

Posted 08/02/2015

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