January 4, 2018

Descendants 2 [TV movie] (2017)

Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, et al

I adore Disney Channel Original Movies. Adore. Not only did I grow up with Zenon (zetus lapetus!) and Motocrossed and The Color of Friendship, but the movies were so great that High School Musical 3 and The Cheetah Girls: One World were released in actual movie theaters! They are a force to be reckoned with.

So it makes sense that Disney had to go and screw it up.

Descendants (the first one) isn't a bad movie, necessarily. It's not great either, but it's tolerable. Which almost makes it worse that they've tried to turn it into a franchise. One movie was forgivable. Two, plus a spin-off TV series? No.

This is not the next High School Musical. For one thing, the characters aren't nearly as likable. It's basically all Mal all the time, with a few sidekicks that are given hideous outfits (why does everyone wear motorcycle gloves? To show how bad they are?) and flimsy storylines. The songs are terrible, oddly placed, and are more auto-tuned than a Rebecca Black song. Even the lip syncing is bad. Literally the best part of the movie is Uma, and she's the villain. And even she's not that great.

This movie is aggressively mediocre, but advertised as the second greatest Disney Channel Original Movie ever. I find that offensive. Yes, offensive. With a vast library of greats like Eddie's Million Dollar Cook Off and Model Behavior or even Luck of the Irish, the fact that Disney has poured so much money and energy into such a lackluster series honestly makes me angry. The fact that Kenny Ortega could go from HSM to this crap makes me angry. And the fact that such a great premise--the scorned children of Disney villains try to find their place in the world--is squandered on such cheesy and over-choreographed movies makes me angry. This franchise is stupid. And the probability that Disney will make a third one of these makes me even more irrationally angry.

I want new movies! Exciting movies! Movies that explore boundaries without relying on kitschy songs and terrible dancing. I want a return to the heyday of Disney Channel Original movies that unabashedly explore racial boundaries and gender expectations and don't require third rate CGI dragons. I want Disney to stop trying to be "trendy" with colored hair and stupid slang and just focus on the basics. (Fun side note: the version I watched on TV was a "pop-up" screening and had little messages float across the screen throughout with things like "mic drop" and "LOL") They even added a talking dog because, why not? This movie is the very definition of "trying too hard."

Final word: If I had watched this movie before Halloween, I probably wouldn't have given candy to any kid in a Mal costume. I'm that bitter about it.

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