I Watched Disney Channels’ Descendants So You Don’t Have To: Part 2
I’m not gonna lie, I woke up this morning jamming to “Rotten to the Core.”
I may be enjoying this movie more than I care to admit.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out Part 1 of this delicious hate-watch.
For everyone else, let’s dive in!
We open on a “Remedial Goodness” class where they’re teaching only the four villain-spawns how to be “good” versus “evil.” Seems a little discriminatory, but practical. It’s taught by the Fairy Godmother, so I guess she doesn’t really have a lot to do as Headmistress.
We meet her daughter, Jane, because, again, all the fairy tale characters underwent a mass cloning process at the same time. Except Jane’s other parent is definitely Mae Whitman.
Jane squeaks around nervously, so apparently she’s our resident ugly duckling. Looking forward to that mildly shallow/”empowering” make-over scene.
Fairy Godmother then has to interrupt Jay and Carlos before they have sex on the desk — ahem, I mean, stop them from wrestling.
Fairy Godmother suggests they release their sexual frustration through sports. Which is definitely why wrestling was created in the first place. But in this world sports are called “tourneys.” Because this movie eats half-hearted puns like it’s a breakfast that’s happy to see ya.
Everyone is wearing the same yellow and blue colors from Beauty and the Beast, and I never thought I could be so sick of two singular colors in my life. This kingdom needs to mix it up a little. I guess that’s what happens when you banish all the servile minions to a remote island.
Anyway, my new theory is that Jay’s other parent was one of the Bash Brothers from the Mighty Ducks, because he completely dominates a pretty rough house and admittedly interesting-looking new game. I mean, it has cannons!
He then does a victory dance that would probably get him a pretty hefty fine in the NoFunLeague. But his hypothetical father would be proud.
We have a random shot of Audrey looking annoyed for no apparent reason. Just to remind us that she’s a Mean Girl. Y’know, because someone has to be.
The Coach barks at Jay to “get over here,” puts on his best angry-man-face and scowls “What do you call that!?” But then super surprise he breaks into a smile and says, “I call that raw talent!”
What!? You totally pulled the rug out from underneath me, Disney. I thought he was displeased with that awesome athletic display but really he was opposite of displeased. Who would have guessed? Not me, Disney. Not me.
He then smugly suggests that the non-athletic Carlos “try band.” Which SCREW YOU, COACH TWO-FACE. BAND GEEKS RULE.
I’m just saying, my high school band won more trophies than the football team ever did.
But anywhoozlebees, we move on to a random shot of your basic-hot-jock (who we will later learn is Cinderella’s kid OH GOOD MORE REASON FOR ME TO HATE CINDERELLA), pointing at the villain kids and stating “these guys are trouble.”
Which is actually an accurate and understandable guess seeing as Mal literally has “Long Live Evil” spray painted all over her locker. If you’re trying to blend in and act innocent, Mal, that’s a serious miscalculation.
Although, except for that open display of team loyalty, and Jay stealing stuff (which no one knows about), and their unsuccessful museum heist, these kids have done nothing villainous. They go to class and actually try hard, they’re nice and supportive of each other, they haven’t done so much as break curfew. I mean, c’mon, is it so much to ask that these kids give one of the good-guy-brats a wedgie or something? Just saying, for kids who apparently have been trained to be evil all their life, they’re kinda bad at it.
Instead, a (sadly) wedgie-less Audrey pops in to be generically mean again, Ben reads his lines like a vulcan learning to read again, and Mal and Ben try and fail to have a romantic connection again. So, y’know, standard Disney Channel fare.
Also, why is Ben wearing a suit to class? It’s clearly not the uniform. He looks suspiciously like a nark. Which would actually explain his random fascination with the villain kids.
Jane walks by and whimpers (again) like her father is one of Cinderella’s mice…which actually seems weirdly possible in this movie. Mal interrupts Ben flirting (via suggesting she sign up for art class, ooh I can feel the fireworks), to tail after Squeaky Jane into the bathroom, where they discuss how clearly and atrociously ugly she is. Mal fixes this by giving her a new hair-do that definitely would take about an hour with a curling iron every morning. But Mal does it with her handy-dandy spellbook! …which should probably be confiscated. If the school had any sense. But I think we’re all past that point, aren’t we?
Mal comments that Jane looks so much better. “You almost don’t notice your…other features anymore!” Mal says. Which is actually pretty evil. Not on Mal’s part, but the movie’s. Seriously, this movie is straight-up calling this girl ugly. Let me post a picture of her again.
If you wanted to give the movie way more credit than it deserves, you could say that Mal manipulated Jane into thinking she’s ugly so Mal could capitalize on her low self-esteem, but again, aren’t we past that at this point?
Jane desperately wants Mal to “do her nose,” but, let’s be real, anyone with a nose big enough to want to be “done” isn’t on the Disney Channel. But Mal uses this to try and convince Jane to tell her about the magic wand. Because apparently Jane has been wanting her mother to fix her horrid appearance for a long time. “She made Cinderella beautiful, why not you?” Mal asks slyly. Seriously, what does this movie think this poor girl looks like!?
Jane promises Mal to let her be present should Fairy Godmother break out the wand for some good ol’ plastic surgery…which the movie already made fun of…
To get more problematic female stereotypes in the mix, we find Evie lusting over the generic Hot-Asshole-Jock, and she asks Dopey-Spawn if he’s “in line for a throne.” “Yeah,” says Doug. “He’s Cinderella and Prince Charming’s son.”
NO, EVIE. HE’S NOT. THE KINGDOMS WERE UNITED SO THERE’S ONLY ONE THRONE AND IT’S ABOUT TO GO TO A VULCAN TEENAGER DIDN’T YOU READ THE STORYBOOK IPAD
Anyway, we find out that Chad (Cindy Spawn) is charming but dumb as bricks. Because apparently almost all of the heroes’ kids suck. Seriously, Ben is boring, Audrey’s a bitch, Jane is “horribly deformed,” and Chad is a dunce. Apparently heroes make just as crappy parents as the villains. If the movie is trying to sell us on good over evil, it’s doing a pretty shitty job of it.
Anyway, Evie uses her magic mirror to cheat in class and look smarter than everyone else. Even though, since we have iPads in this world, literally anyone could do the same exact thing by just using Siri. But again:
Chad is so impressed by her sneaky googling, though, that he asks her to meet him under the bleachers at 3:00, while Doug looks sad and put out.
Gee. I wonder who she’s gonna end up with, the brainless jerk or the nerdy nice guy? I’m sure it will be just as surprising as the coach liking that Jay can play sports.
We’re then treated to the most boring scene ever to feature a dog. So I will spare you and skip over describing it. But basically Carlos discovers dogs are precious and not ferocious. And for me to find a scene that involves loving dogs boring, it’s saying a lot. That’s actually a serious feat, Disney. You have reached new heights in monotony. It also ends with Ben awkwardly patting Carlos and telling him, “Good boy.” I don’t know if it was supposed to be funny, but again, and I cannot stress this enough, Ben is a vulcan, so it was just uncomfortable.
Meanwhile, Evie meets Chad under the bleachers wearing a t-shirt that says “Fairest.” Subtle. She starts a kiss-lean and Chad is all, “Whoa, I didn’t invite you under the bleachers to make out. What kind of teenage boy do you think I am? I’d much rather you do my homework.”
Doug then pops out of nowhere (is he stalking her? That should raise some flags, Evie), and reveals that the magic wand is used during the upcoming coronation.
Speaking of exposition, Evie awkwardly states for no apparent reason, while they’re hanging in their dorm room with Jane, that Mal has never had a boyfriend. “That’s because I don’t need one,” Mal responds as she crosses off one of the requirements on her “strong independent woman” trope list. Gee. Wonder if she’ll have a boyfriend by the closing credits.
But we forget that immediately because in enters Mulan’s daughter. Wait, before I reveal her name, I want everyone to guess. Is it Mary? Molly? Mullally?
Nope. I shit you not. Her name is Lonnie. Lonnie! As in Mu-lan = Lan-ny=Lonnie. Lonnie!!! I’m sorry. I can’t get over this.
Guys, meet Lonnie!
You know the gig by now. Her other parent is…*drum roll please*
Violet Beauregarde’s mom from the Tim Burton version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!
Is Lonnie here to welcome the ostracized new kids, like an actual good guy would do? No! Don’t be ridiculous. All the good-guys are terrible. Lonnie is just here because word has already spread that Mal is giving makeovers via magic spell book, and instead of worrying that this suspicious person could use this very powerful object as a weapon, Lonnie wants a makeover for her terrible hair.
This movie really hates bobs.
I have to admit, though, Mal and Evie hanging out are kinda cute. They have some fun chemistry.
Anyway, Lonnie makes weirdly sexual noises while Mal performs the spell that changes her hair into the same exact style all Disney Channel stars are now required to have.
Lonnie then, inspired by this heavily manicured hairstyle, rips her skirt as punk rock plays in the background. Jane immediately copies her and feels liberated/terrified. Again…sure? I mean, if their goal was to be “cool like the villains,” none of them actually have a tattered look, more boho steampunk, but you do you, Lonnie.
I just can’t say that name enough.
We cut to the weird cannon-shooting-shield-wielding-sport-game’s coach talking shit with Jay about all the other wussy “princely” players, before Coach tells Jay how important it is to act like a team. Pretty sure a major aspect of teamwork is not insulting the other players for their upbringing, but hey, I’m just a former band geek, what do I know?
Moving on. The fearsome foursome are hanging in the girls’ dorm room (seriously, I kinda love these guys as friends) when Ben knocks on the door. I’m calling serious shenanigans on a preppy pubescent boarding school allowing girls and boys unchaperoned in each other’s rooms, but hey, maybe Auradon is just super progressive.
Wanting to get close to the magic wand, Mal super-casually asks Ben if they can sit in the front row at his coronation, right next to the Fairy Godmother and her wand. Again, Mal is super stealthy at hiding her nefarious plans. But since Ben is a glorified pile of bricks, he thinks nothing is suspicious about this question. He tells her that only his parents and girlfriend are allowed in the front row. Which seems…a little extreme for a high school relationship. So far Ben has showed zero interest in Audrey, so I can’t imagine anyone, including his parents and/or the royal event coordinator, think that relationship is going to last. You think it’s awkward when your cousin insists his significant-other-of-two-months be in the family vacation photos? Imagine a national coronation that will be forever documented in the historical record. ♫ Awkward ♫
Mal decides this means she needs to make Ben a love potion so she can become his girlfriend and get into the front row of the coronation. The fact that proximity of a few feet will make or break her ability to grab the wand shows a stunning lack of either strategy on Mal’s part or security on the Fairy Godmother’s part. Safe bet it’s a combo punch.
Mal picks the love potion with the “best reviews.” Except it’s a hand written, one-of-a-kind spellbook, is there really a Yelp for that?
Enter my new favorite character, Lonnie, who says “all the girls” want Mal to do their hair. Again, not one genuinely nice person in this bunch who just wants to reach out to the new kids and, more disconcertingly, no one is concerned about a malevolent teenager with an all powerful spellbook. I’m really rooting for the villains at this point, the good guys are kinda asking for it.
Lonnie sees that Mal and co. are making cookies, and she talks about how her mom made her chocolate chip cookies whenever she was upset, “fresh from the oven with a big old glass of milk.”
No. No. No. No. No no no no no.
Mulan making chocolate chip cookies is not an image that computes in my head. Mulan!
Okay, I’m sure Mulan would be a good mother and care for her hypothetical kids, and maybe people in China eat chocolate chip cookies, I’m not that up on my eastern culture. And yeah, we’ve acknowledged that this movie thinks logical timelines are for sissies. But you can’t tell me that the image of Mulan pulling chocolate chip cookies out of the oven is not a horrible crime against animation and all that is good and pure.
This was all harmless silliness, Disney. But that crossed a line.
Screw you, Lonnie, and the anachronistic cookie dough you rode in on!
Anyway, the horrid blasphemy of that line makes Lonnie cry (or the fact that villains don’t love their kids, whatever, I was in a blind rage and wasn’t paying attention), Mal snatches the tear for her roofie cookies, whisks Lonnie away with a wish of “evil dreams” (seriously, Mal, you are so bad at undercover), and we all move on like nothing happened.
But it did. And I will never be the same.
The next day at the lockers — because apparently there’s only 15 lockers in this school– Audrey tells Ben that Mal is using magic, which means bad news for everyone. “It’s gateway magic!” she warns.
I know this is supposed to make Audrey seem bitchy, but really, I’m thinking she’s saying the first logical thing in the entire movie. Also, her Gretchen Weiners-level hair is the first I’ve ever seen any human — including the Disney Parks’ face characters — even get close to Ariel’s gravity-defying bangs.
That must have taken a loooot of hairspray.
But Audrey isn’t worried about Mal cursing people so much as other girls becoming as pretty as her. We were so close to an intelligent statement in this movie. Instead, we just got more girl-pitting-girls-against-each-other. We almost had a moment there, Audrey. We almost had a moment. Now I must give you another mental wedgie.
But none of that matters, because then Mal feeds Ben her roofie cookies…and we get the most fantastically ridiculous scene ever to grace our televisions.
Ben, laced with a love potion that would make Merope Gaunt proud, pulls the most tried and true of all teen romance cliches, the Dramatic Impromptu Musical Number at a Sporting Event.
(But first we have to suffer through The Big Game Cliche, along with the Sport-Hero-Insists-Non-Athletic-Kid-Play-Who-Then-Helps-Them-Win-The-Big-Game cliche.)
And then…this happens.
No, don’t skim over this. Watch the video. Pop in your headphones discreetly when your boss isn’t looking. You won’t be sorry.
And for those who can’t, let me give you the highlights.
–The most fantastically awkward “Gimme a ___” cheer that defines second-hand embarrassment (sadly not included in the above clip, although we do get inexplicably random white-boy spanish count-off…looks like Dopey had his kids watch Sesame Street)
–Everyone spontaneously bursting into synchronized choreography because their future king is madly in love with an ostracized, super shady, magic-wielding villain-spawn, and they’ve decided this is a good thing
–The microphone and microphone stand are spray painted blue and gold. Because everything in this world is blue and gold
–White boy clearly thinks he’s Elvis when really he’s early-days-Justin Bieber. Number includes jazz splits, screams of “yow!” and quite literally being catapulted into the bleachers
–Actually, on second thought, maybe he thinks he’s Powerline from A Goofy Movie
–But who cares because there’s a two-person dancing mascot horse
–Who Overgrown Belieber gets on and rides victoriously while singing
Those poor souls in that costume.
–Awkward white boy literally screams “It’s. Just. RIDICULOUS!” which is a stunningly meta moment of clarity, as well as my absolute favorite part of this entire movie, because the movie isn’t just saying what I’m thinking, it’s literally screaming it at my face.
Ben publicly asks Mal to go to the coronation with him (well that’s convenient), Audrey announces that Chad is her new boyfriend, which makes Evie sad, then there’s something about Evie passing a test without her magic mirror and Mal and Ben going on a date, but really, who cares because I’m still riding the whirlwind that was that WTF of a musical number.
And on that note, we get a commercial break. Until then, stay ridiculous people.