I Watched Disney Channel’s Descendants So You Don’t Have to: Part 3
Things are about to get R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S!
Catch up with Part 1 and Part 2!
You know, thinking about it, the lyric “I’d trade my kingdom for just one kiss” is kinda terrifying considering it’s coming from a boy who is actually about to have an entire kingdom to trade. I don’t know why everyone is dancing along with this. Imagine if Barack Obama, right before his inauguration, spontaneously sang a song dedicated to Putin’s daughter with the lyric “I’d sell the nuclear codes for just one night with you, girl.”
I’m just saying, as a tax-payer, my dancing would be slightly less enthusiastic.
But no use looking in the past, onwards to Act Three!
We return to Evie giving Mal a makeover before her “big date” with Ben. Mal says she never had anyone show her how to put on makeup before, despite her clear affinity for fake eyelashes. Another check on the “strong independent woman” trope list.
Evie tells Mal that she “has a sister now,” which seems to imply that their friendship is new. But this movie made it seem like they hung out on Evil Island together. How else would they have learned how to synchronize their choreo so well?
Plus they’ve been on “first initial” terms since the beginning of the movie. Every girl knows that is an exclusive best friend privilege.
But anyway, they have a total Galinda/Elphaba moment where Mal looks in the mirror and can’t believe how much prettier she is.
EXCEPT NO ONE SAYS PINK GOES GOOD WITH GREEN/PURPLE. YOU HAVE KRISTEN CHENOWETH IN YOUR MOVIE HOW CAN YOU NOT
Anyway, the moment is even more lackluster considering Mal looks exactly the same as she does in every other shot of this movie.
Wow. So different. You’re a real miracle worker there, Evie. It’s almost as if she’d actually been wearing makeup this entire time.
But apparently Ben is super picky about his makeup application, because he immediately spots it and goes “zomg you look so much better now, gurl is that a new lipgloss?”
Ben and Mal motorbike off on their date to some stranded spot in the woods. All alone. Which is when Ben takes out a hockey mask and chainsaw and this movie takes a delightfully unexpected turn for the better.
Haha. Ha. I wish. Instead we get super original date dialogue, like “Tell me something about yourself you’ve never told anyone.”
Tip to anyone on a first date, that question is only cute if you’re Heath Ledger and you’ve just made out in a haystack while covered in paintballs. For anyone else, it’s just stupid.
But Mal reveals that her middle name is “Bertha.” “Another example of my mom being evil,” Mal jokes.
Okay, did Disney just completely miss this and simply thought “Bertha” was a funny name, or did they intentionally just make a really dark joke about mal-birth lawsuits? Like Maleficent got super pissed her birth control failed her, sued the company (Super Nuva Girl Ring), and named her daughter after it?
We’re just gonna move past that.
At this point, I would question a boarding school that allows teenagers out by themselves unsupervised in secluded wooded areas while riding a wuss-cycle, but I guess they’re probably more lenient towards students who are about to become their all-powerful dictator.
Ben introduces Mal to a splendiferous green screen background and her eyes widen in delight at the stunning lack of budget. They sit down to a picnic that was just sitting there. So either Ben called in a lackey to set up his date for him, or there’s gonna be a really pissed couple who returns from their walk to find their food gone. “Is this your first time?” Ben asks her intimately, as they eat. Mal answers that no, she’s never dated before, which is what any logical person would think he’s asking, but Ben laughs and says “I meant eating a jelly donut!” and Mal acts all embarrassed.
Who the eff asks if it’s their first time after eating a jelly donut?
Sorry, that was embarrassing for you, Ben, not Mal.
Let’s be real. It was embarrassing for the writers. And anyone watching.
It was embarrassing for me, is I guess what I’m saying. I need to sit in a corner and think about my life.
Especially because Ben’s next brilliant move is to squint his eyes in an effort to appear soulful and say, “I look into your eyes, and I can tell you’re not evil.” While romantic “they’re connecting guys, really!” music plays in the background.
I can see why the girls all swoon over you, Benjamin, you really know how to charm a lady. Never have I heard a more flattering, more romantic statement in my life than the sentiment that the shape of my irises tell you that I probably won’t kill any infants tonight.
Note to all my readers: please go on a date, pull this line or some variant thereof, and tell me how it goes. Better yet, video it. Pretty please. I would love to see this.
Ben then randomly suggests they go swimming, taking Mal completely by surprise. “Girl, I just did my hair and makeup, I am not getting it wet! Also, this seems like a super shady excuse to get me naked. You are well aware that I didn’t bring a bathing suit. This has date rape written all over it.”
I’m just saying, I do not trust the shape of Ben’s irises. Run Mal, before we have another Mal-Birthing situation on our hands!
But Mal, having the protective instincts of any girl growing up in a world of prevalent rape culture, goes “Y’know, I’m, uh, I’m gonna hang back and…eat these strawberries.”
Then there’s an intensive camera focus on Mal eating and enjoying these strawberries, eating them up like this movie eats half-hearted puns. There’s even magical sound effects when she eats the first one. It lasts a good 10 seconds.
So you automatically assume these strawberries are of some sort of consequence to the plot. And most likely magical. But guess what?
They’re not. It’s never explained. They never use it. It’s just a weird thing that happens and seems important, but is aggressively not. I really think some guy subbed in on the editing room one day who thought that this was a movie about a girl who eats magical strawberries, and then heard the Mulan-baking-cookies ordeal and quit out of moral outrage before anyone could find out his mistake.
My personal theory is the strawberries give her the magic ability to sing overtone, because suddenly we have a super bland music video where this poor actress is trying to lip-synch about six layers of auto-tuned yawn.
Seriously, it’s actually kinda funny watching this girl try and keep up with the lyrics when her own voice is overlapping her. She actually has to move her lips to form the next lyric while the note she previously sang is still sustained. This director seriously does not understand the difference between music videos and musical numbers. Here’s a hint, in musical numbers, you don’t provide your own backup vocals.
But that’s the only note-worthy (ha! half-hearted pun) part of that song. The rest of it is so uninteresting that I actually cannot recall a single line of lyric or bit of melody in the entire thing. It’s so uninventive that it literally flashbacks to the scene that happened directly before it. Y’know, Rotten to the Core and Evil Like Me are terrible songs, but they (unfortunately) pop in my head at least once every few days. So maybe I shouldn’t be complaining about this, but if you put a gun to my head right now and asked me to hum one bar of the damn thing, I’d be put out of my misery of having to watching the remaining 40 minutes of this movie.
But no one has, so we move on.
There’s a really weird moment where Ben, about to jump into the water from a high ledge (and
hopefully probably break his neck), roars. Like, actually roars. Like he’s auditioning for the Cowardly Lion in his high school’s production of The Wizard of Oz. He actually roars the word “roar.” In case you didn’t know what he was doing. He’s letting you know.
I guess it’s supposed to be Beast-like? But it’s more…football player hosting SNL-like. Awkward and uncomfortable, and everyone is trying to pretend it’s not terrible until the credits roll and they can collect their paychecks and leave.
Speaking of collecting their paychecks and getting the hell outta here, we have another Kristen-Chenoweth-Doing-Whatever-She-Wants scene where they actually skype in the villain-spawns’ parents to say hi to their kids, since they can’t come to parents weekend.
Yeah, so it’s Maleficent, Jafar, Cruella, and Evil Queen struggling to make an electronic video chat work with the Fairy Godmother.
It’s just as fantastically stupid and ridiculous as you’re imagining. Let’s just say that Maleficent and the Evil Queen fist bump. And Cruella objects to her son by making a barking sound.
Carlos also yells at his mom about her dog being “stuffed.” Which still brings no clarity as to what that weird little thing actually is. I thought it looked like a possum originally, but now it just looks like a sparkly white pom pom ball that you used to make fake snowmen out of in kindergarten.
Cruella also calls Jafar a “two-bit salesman.” The movie’s creators have clearly never ever seen the movie Aladdin in their lives. They seem very confused about who Jafar is. I actually think they confused him with the Robin Williams character that opens the movie.
That would actually make a lot of sense when you think about how they characterized Jay…
We then get a surprisingly funny moment where Mal talks about how their parents are going to kill them if they can’t get the wand. Which either speaks to the skill of the actress who delivered the line or how low this movie has set my standard for any kind of quality, comic or otherwise. Once again, it’s probably a combo-punch.
Mal and co. make a battle plan for grabbing the wand at the coronation on what is blatantly just a piece of paper with circles on it.
But they do have a detailed drawing of the magic wand so everyone knows what it looks like. Because, y’know, that wouldn’t be painfully obvious or anything. It’s the Fairy Godmother’s magic stick guys, it should be pretty self explanatory.
That doesn’t really matter, though, because Mal has the most non-plan of all time. Carlos has to just find the limo that opened the barrier to their Evil Island, somehow, even though she just stated that he’d be all the way up in the balcony with everyone else at the coronation. Mal is also assuming that, just because she’s a few feet from it, she’ll easily be able to grab the wand and run for it despite the fact that she’ll be surrounded by literally the entire kingdom. But it’s cool because Evie has a tiny bottle of perfume-style chloroform spray (how did they get that!? Seriously, school, why do you let any teenagers, but especially ones sworn to the cause of evil, possess so many dangerous objects!? Is there not some sort of magic screening process for this?) so she can take out the cab driver. Who will definitely be driving the same limo still. And is clearly the only person standing in their way. So they’ll just hop into the limo and drive back to Gilligan’s Island despite the fact that I’m pretty sure none of them know how to drive. Easy peasy.
But instead of a logical interjection about how terrible this plan is, we get a reprise of the boring song from earlier. And I’m not gonna lie, the first time I watched this movie, I didn’t even notice this was a reprise because that song was literally too dull for me to remember it for the ten intervening minutes.
It isn’t helped by the fact that the auto-tune is so distracting. It makes the jump into song even more jarring. These songs are all so heavily auto-tuned that it does not sound like it’s actually coming from the actors. I assume it is, because that’s what Disney Channel does now, but if it was a third party dubbing, or if these kids couldn’t sing a note, or if one of them was the next Christina Aguilera, you literally would not be able to tell because it’s so thoroughly electronically modified. No human can make these sounds, especially not teenagers. And more importantly, no human should.
And speaking of things no human should ever do, we get an auto-tuned pop re-mix of Be Our Guest.
No really. There’s beat boxing. They rap some of the lyrics. It’s quite possibly the most terrible thing to ever happen to ears.
It’s sort of amazing.
Play it if you dare. It’s supposed to be a presentation at Hogwart’s Parents Weekend, and I think any of their parents could find this song grounds for disownment. “That song was written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, you ungrateful bastards! Jerry Freaking Orbach sang it!”
But Honey Badger don’t give a f&$#. “Don’t believe me, ask the dishes! They can sing/sing/sing, they can dance/dance/dance,” raps a group of boys who should never ever EVER rap. “After all Miss, this is France.”
No Ben, you lying whore, this is Auradon not France, and because the Enchantment broke…whatever amount of time ago (I tried to figure out a timeline just now before I laughed at my foolishness), there are no more dancing cutlery. Didn’t you watch your own damn movie? Now you got the parents all excited about a dancing casserole dish that will never come. Worst. King. Ever.
Jay and Carlos (oh, are they in the movie, too?) find more strawberries and shove them into their mouths like there’s no tomorrow (which, for their careers, there probably won’t be). Further perpetuating the strawberry plot that never was. Seriously, was there a scene they forgot to include that reveals that strawberries are villain-crack? Or did the director just have a really weird strawberry fetish?
I’m really afraid it’s the latter.
The royal family of Beast, Belle, and Ben (ugh) take a formal picture, and Ben chooses this super appropriate moment to tell his parents that he’s dating Maleficent’s daughter. And I don’t think I have to tell you that they do the thing where the picture goes off right when Belle and Beast find out and make shocked faces. So funny!
At this point I’m really hoping we get a re-mix of “He is Not (One of Us)” from The Lion King 2
HEY SCREW YOU IT’S A GOOD MOVIE.
I mean, it’s actually not. But I like it anyway.
But one terrible movie at a time! Because it’s Parents Weekend, we meet Audrey’s grandmother. AKA Sleeping Beauty’s mother. AKA QUEEN LEAH. GUYS, IT’S QUEEN LEAH. AND THEY ACTUALLY SAY HER NAME IN THIS MOVIE.
The fact that there is a canon Disney character named Queen Leah has always been one of my favorite Disney facts. Step aside all the Ariels and Annas of the world. It’s my turn to shine.
But no one ever believes me. They think it’s a Beast-as-Prince-Adam-type ret-con thing. No! It’s real! And this movie raising that very necessary awareness makes me actually forgive it for the Mulan-Cookie-Baking thing.
Nope. Nope. I take it back. I ♫Cannot forget and cannot forgive!♫
Anyway, my excitement over a Disnic name sake was short-lived because, like all grandmothers in pantsuits, Grammy Leah is pretty racist. She unleashed some pretty major hate on Mal for her mother, y’know, psychologically torturing them and trying to kill their daughter so that she missed actually raising her child.
Audrey places the blame on Maleficent for the “100 Year Long Nap,” but that was technically the Fairies’ fault. Maleficent wanted Aurora to die, not sleep. And then the fairies froze the entire kingdom while they fixed the whole awkward situation. Big difference, Audrey. Seriously, did no one watch the original movies?
Chad steps forward and points out, kinda correctly, that Mal went after another girl’s boyfriend, Evie’s a gold digger and a cheater, and Jay enjoys hurting people. “And Carlos, you…don’t really have as much of a part in this movie, so I actually got nothing. So much for embracing diversity.”
Evie gets back at Chad by saying “Mirror, mirror, in my hand, who’s the biggest jerk in the land?” and then shows Chad his face in the mirror.
Ooh. Burn. So harsh. That’s gonna be the new “talk to the hand.”
Also, Mirror, really? Chad is the biggest jerk in the entire land? Not saying that Chad isn’t a jerk, but I’m sure someone is out there somewhere kicking puppies or something. Doesn’t seem entirely accurate information. Guess the mirror isn’t so much Google Maps as it is Apple Maps.
And while we’re nitpicking on the original movies, it’s actually “Slave in the magic mirror,” not “mirror mirror on the wall.”
Jay and Chad start sort of pushing each other and Ben tries to hold them apart, so Evie decides it’s very necessary to use the chloroform perfume from earlier to knock out Chad. And still no one confiscates it or the spellbook. “Well how else will she defend herself when guys begin mildly shoving each other?”
King Furry pops up like “Y’know, Lil’ Me, I knew something like this would happen. But, even though I’m still King, I just let you do it it because I’m a terrible ruler.”
“This isn’t their fault!” protests Ben. “No,” says Beast. “It’s yours.”
Seriously, Beast, way to blame the 16 year old son that you’ve just given the unnecessary and extreme burden of governing an entire nation for a glorified shoving match.
Ben heads over to the pouting foursome afterwards and literally tells them to “let it go.”
At this point, I’m actually very proud of this movie for resisting the urge to do an elaborately choreographed version of Let It Go. Based on their recent behavior, it’s actually showing surprising restraint. Maybe it was because they already did it in High School Musical.
Seriously, watch that one. You wouldn’t believe how well it synchs up.
Audrey walks by and smack talks about Mal with Jane, who is suddenly mean for no apparent reason. Must be the power of big hair.
Mal gets back at Jane, though, by undoing Jane’s new hairstyle. Oh no! And because all the good guys suck, they all immediately laugh and mock Jane’s bob-hairstyle that she’s had the entire movie. Lonnie anxiously checks to make sure her new hair is still there. Do these people realize they can just grow out their bobs? No magic necessary? Seriously, this movie acts like a bob hair cut killed its parents.
By the way, Mal is super good at opening the book right to the spell she needs every time. Does she even read them or just make up a dumb rhyme? Is the book even necessary? Can anyone who has the ability to rhyme cast a spell? Why am I still asking questions about this movie like any of the creators thought about this for even a second?
“There’s a lot more where that came from,” Mal says menacingly. A lot more of…undoing your own magic spells? Wow, threatening.
“Who do you think you are?” demands Audrey. “Do I look like I’m kidding?” responds Mal.
Uh, that’s not what she asked you, Mal. You should probably work on your listening skills.
No really, that was the exact exchange. I didn’t paraphrase it for laughs. Mal actually responded to the question “Who do you think you are?” with “Do I look like I’m kidding?” I really want to know if that was a mistake by the writer or editor, and how absolutely no one caught it. Or maybe this entire movie was created by the South Park manatees who write Family Guy, using only balls that have tropes and lines of dialogue taken from the most cliche of teen movies.
Also, life tip. Don’t piss off the chick who has powerful magic abilities and the Mistress of All Evil for a mother. It won’t end well for you.
So the four of them have a renewed determination to grab the magic wand and enslave the kingdom as they walk in a straight line and a incorporeal version of Jay’s voice sings one line of “I’m rotten to the core.”
Because this movie really, really doesn’t understand how musicals work.
And on that note, we get a commercial break. Click here for the fourth and final installment of this recap.