What is a happy ending? It’s a question Eleanor (Jillian Bell) thinks she has all figured out. Having been raised on a healthy dose of fairytale stories including true love’s kiss and fairy godmothers magically turning rags into beautiful gowns, it’s not hard to understand why she’s so confident in her stance. Her journey can be likened to that of a child growing into adulthood and realizing that life, love, and happiness is nothing but a gray space, one that leads to heartache, confusion, and endings that aren’t always very happy by fairytale standards. It’s with a heartwarming, if somewhat halfhearted, attempt that Godmothered redefines what it means to have a happy ending in the present day.
With her head in the clouds, Eleanor is training to become a godmother precisely because she wants nothing more than to make everyone’s dreams come true. But, she’s quickly brought back down to Earth when she realizes that the godmother’s establishment is inching closer to shutting down after years of taking no assignments. Eleanor is adamant about completing her training and fulfilling her dreams of being a godmother, however, so she finds a young girl’s letter (the godmothers are like Santa Claus in the film) and hightails it to meet Mackenzie (Isla Fisher), only to discover that she’s now an adult who no longer believes in happy endings.
Similar to what Disney did with Enchanted, Godmothered explores the very same tropes the studio has long been associated with in an attempt to subvert them. While Enchanted certainly does that to an extent, it still embraces true love’s kiss and the idea of happily ever afters by way of romance. On the other hand, Godmothered redefines what a happy ending might actually mean. Mackenzie, who is now a widow with two children, isn’t interested in revisiting her childhood ideals.
She’s grown up now and with that comes some heartache, grief, and hardship. Sure, adulthood isn’t all that bad, but it certainly doesn’t involve problems that a magical wave of Eleanor’s wand will fix. Mackenzie is obviously skeptical of Eleanor’s identity and attitude, but they evolve together in a way that feels authentic. True love and happiness doesn’t always have to mean romantic relationships or even being in a harmonious state that never ends. Feelings don’t really work that way and it’s unrealistic. Godmothered, for all its sentimentality, understands that.
Naturally, a film titled Godmothered is going to have its fair share of shmoop and silly antics. Jillian Bell offers a touch of both without overplaying it, delivering a genuinely heartfelt and charming performance as Eleanor. Isla Fisher balances the somewhat childish, but well-meaning behavior of Bell’s Eleanor, with a dose of grounded reality as Mackenzie. She’s not exactly no-nonsense so much as she’s guarded and Fisher plays that excellently.
Godmothered fashions itself as a modern fairytale and, while it does take a bit long to pull away from Eleanor’s frivolous attempts to help Mackenzie, the film is incredibly aware of the kind of story its telling. It doesn’t overstep its own boundaries and director Sharon Maguire, alongside writers Melissa Stack and Kari Granlund seem perfectly content with that. The film is enjoyable for what it is and builds toward a thoughtful message at the end that brings everything (and everyone) together in a way that makes sense for both characters.