Every once in a while, you see a film that feels like a hug. These films are often focused on inherently good characters or full of positive energy. Perhaps no genre is better suited for these films than fantasy. The genre allows for magic to save the day, princesses to wish for something grander, and the heroes to show they are just. Films like Enchanted, Ella Enchanted, and Ever After have all taken this formula and added new layers to the genre, creating good-hearted homages of Disney princess films of old. Godmothered joins that group and splashes in elements of Elf to create a Christmas, fish-out-of-water fantasy. While no one will accuse Godmothered of being a perfect film, but the charm and wit win you over, thanks to a brilliant turn by Jillian Bell.
Godmothered follows Eleanor (Bell), a young Godmother-in-training who wants to help make wishes come true. Living in the Motherland with other fairies, Eleanor’s school threatens to shut down when it is revealed there are no fairy godmother assignments. To save the school and her dreams, Eleanor travels to Earth to help a young girl whose wish went unanswered. However, she soon discovers the young girl is now the very adult Mackenzie (Isla Fisher). Mackenzie has grown disillusioned with life but works hard to provide for her two daughters Jane (Jillian Shea Spaeder) and Mia (Willa Skye). With only five days to save her career, Eleanor sets out to help Mackenzie’s family.
Jillian Bell’s magnetic turn as Elanor is certainly what the doctor ordered. The actress has found a niche for herself within the industry due to her adaptable performance style. In Brittany Runs a Marathon, she proved she could lead a realistic comedy with heart. Yet her supporting roles in 22 Jump Street, The Night Before, and Workaholics all proved she could handle more outlandish, adult humor. Throughout Godmothered, she taps into both sides of that background. Yet her earnest nature is what makes her impossible to root against, even when the humor gets a little broad.
The rest of the cast gets charming moments to shine as well. Fisher continues her pseudo-comeback, once again proving she’s an extremely likable and fun presence on screen. She’s overqualified, but the role calls for someone to find their light again after years away from the spotlight. No one would say Fisher had quite the tragic backstory that her character has suffered through. Despite that, she clearly connects with the material and develops with her co-stars, especially Santiago Cabrera. June Squibb and Jane Curtain deliver silly fairy-magic to the film and do so with their trademark humor. Artemis Pebdani and Utkarsh Ambudkar both border on caricature, but their silly nature fits into the heightened world around them.
Godmothered‘s least successful element comes from its digital work. An adorable and frustrated raccoon will distract some, but you can feel the underdeveloped CGI. Most glaring, Godmothered briefly uses animation, but the sequences feel rushed and out-of-place. COVID clearly changed the production of the film, and it’s hard to fault Godmothered too much. However, these moments are impossible to ignore when watching, making the Godmothered miss the mark on occasion.
With a heartful story and fun performances, Godmothered delivers a joyful holiday romp. Bell continues to build an impressive resume, easily charming audiences with her bright persona. If not for her, this one may have been joyless. Disney certainly keyed into the right kind of film for the holiday season. Combining magic, Christmas, silly animals, and winking humor, Godmothered should be a great watch for the whole family.