Lately it can feel a like even the idea of “happily ever after” is completely outrageous. For many of us, we’d settle for just a few moments of happiness. Beyond that, it also feels like the concept is a bit old-fashioned, and of course sophisticated audiences look down on anything old-fashioned, right? Except maybe we could use a little bit of old-fashioned optimism, mixed with some modern sensibilities. The cast of Disney’s film Godmothered seems to embrace just that idea of traditional ideals with a modern twist.
I attended the Godmothered virtual press conference and had the opportunity to listen to the cast speak about their upcoming fairy tale film. The theme from everyone involved was that those fairy tale ideas of happiness don’t have to be beholden to old-fashioned sensibilities. We can all. strive for the kinds of fairy tale endings that make sense for us today.
Godmothered is about Eleanor, a fairy godmother in training (Jillian Bell), who goes to Earth in search of who she thinks is a 10-year-old girl, only to find that she’s about 30 years too late. That “girl” is now a 40-year-old woman, Mackenzie (Isla Fisher), struggling with the harsh realities of adulthood. Like many of us, Mackenzie doesn’t believe in the concept of “happily ever after,” but in true holiday fashion, Eleanor is determined to make her believe!
Bell described the role as a fairy godmother as a dream come true. “I mean who doesn’t grow up
wanting to be a Disney princess? I mean that’s the goal.” Bell said. “The script came along and I’d always been looking for something, some kind of a magical being to play because my goal in life was to play a witch, and this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to it.”
Godmothered isn’t your parents’ fairy tale though it may share the same magic. Isla Fisher, who plays what she described as “the straight man in the story,” made it a point to highlight that the idea behind Godmothered is that we can still have fairy tale dreams without being completely unrealistic. “For young girls watching, you know, happily ever after doesn’t necessarily include a castle, a prince, and a dress,” Fisher said. “It can be blessings you have in your life with your family or work.”
Jane Curtin, who plays Moira, the fairy godmother who is trying to teach Eleanor the craft, echoed Fisher’s sentiments. “I think it also represents what the world is today. It’s not 1860 anymore. It’s not, you know, castles and all of this kind of stuff.” Curtin said. “Happily ever after is what you want. It’s what you believe and it’s a goal that you can achieve on your own.”
Godmothered also features a “prince” or love interest who isn’t exactly what we might be used to from fairy tales. Santiago Cabrera, who plays Hugh, said that he appreciated the departure from convention. “I also like that it wasn’t your typical prince. It was like, you know, ‘Prince Charming’ because he’s kind of like the underdog,” Carbera said.
Further building on the theme of telling a modern fairy tale, a question was asked about a moment at the end of the film (minor spoiler!) when it looks like Eleanor is now teaching the next generation of godmothers, including one who looked to be gender-nonconforming or non-binary. Bell answered that the moment made her emotional. “I’m very excited this is progressive and inclusive and will make someone feel seen,” Bell said. “I think at the end of the day, if we can be doing that in such a big movie and a Disney movie, that’s a beautiful thing.”
Godmothered is directed by Sharon Maguire, known for Bridget Jones’s Diary, and the cast praised the experience working with her. Curtis talked about Maguire’s thorough approach, saying that she “had lovely time working with her. She’s very exact and she does like to do many takes. She gets interesting things out of people.” Bell agreed, saying, “I was such a fan of Bridget Jones and I’m so excited to get to work with [Maguire],” and crediting Maguire for setting a positive tone for the film by bringing Bell and Fisher together early on in the production to develop their chemistry.
It was clear from the whole cast that they appreciated and enjoyed the opportunity to tell a story that says that magic and happiness can still be found, even if we’re all feeling jaded and beat down by the realities of life.
Godmothered premieres on Disney+ December 4th!
Set at Christmas time, “Godmothered” is a comedy about Eleanor, a young, inexperienced fairy godmother-in-training (Jillian Bell), who upon hearing that her chosen profession is facing extinction, decides to show the world that people still need fairy godmothers. Finding a mislaid letter from a 10-year-old girl in distress, Eleanor tracks her down and discovers that the girl, Mackenzie, is now a 40-year-old single mom (Isla Fisher) working at a news station in Boston. Having lost her husband several years earlier, Mackenzie has all but given up on the idea of “happily ever after,” but Eleanor is bound and determined to give Mackenzie a happiness makeover, whether she likes it or not.
Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture. He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.