(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Descendants)
Doug (vo; sounding apprehensive throughout): Let's talk about the Descendants. Ever since this idea was greenlit, everyone's been sending me links and updates about what an awful idea this is. A Disney Channel movie about famous animated Disney Villains...who have rowdy teenage kids that go to school. Everyone's been going on and on about just how stupid this is, and...yeah. It's pretty bad. Is it the worst of these Disney Channel movies I've seen? No. Are there definitely times where there's a lot of effort put in? Absolutely. But... (Laughs) it's still pretty bad. I mean, what can you even do? It just comes from an awful idea.
Doug (vo): In a faraway land, Belle and the Beast rule all the...fairy tale kingdoms, I guess...and they merge them all together, but put all the Disney Villains on this island that's...actually a little bigger than the good kingdom. That's confusing...keeping them separate. But Belle and the Beast's son, who's gonna be king soon, has a brave new idea that the offspring of these villains should be allowed to go to their school, treated like any other decent human being. These kids include the son of Cruella De Vil, the son of Jafar, the daughter of the Evil Queen, and the daughter of Maleficent. And if you're excited to see the live-action version of your favorite Disney Villains... (Chuckles) you shouldn't be. These are treated like the Adam West Batman villains if the last shroud of dignity was waterboarded out of them. They're barely even recognizable outside of their clothes. In fact, if you had them in completely different clothes, you probably wouldn't even be able to tell which villains they were. Man, just when I thought they couldn't do Maleficent worse than Angelina Jolie, we get this interpretation. The Mistress of All Evil, one of the greatest Disney Villains ever, is now a snorting, high-pitched squealing, bad joke-cracking twit. And the others are not much better. But nevertheless, they see an opportunity when their kids are invited to go to school among the good people, and they convince them to steal the ultimate weapon of power, the magic wand from the Fairy Godmother, who runs the school. But, wouldn't you know it? The longer they stay there, the more they realize they might like being good. Oh, so much conflict.
Doug (vo): And maybe that's the biggest surprise about Descendants, is that there is legit conflict. The kids all do a good job portraying what they're supposed to portray. Honestly, every actor does. I doubt they told Kathy Najimy to play the Evil Queen as this dignified evil villain, no, it's Kathy Najimy, you got her to be funny. She, as well as all the other actors, are giving exactly what's being asked for. It just so happens what's being asked for is incredibly stupid. Half the time, they really try to make the Disney characters look like the Disney characters. You know that's Maleficent, you know that's the Evil Queen, they have this stained glass window from Beauty and the Beast. Even the title, "Descendants", has the Disney "D" in it. But it so obviously doesn't go with what they're trying to do here.
(Several scenes about to be described are shown)
Doug (vo): There's scenes of the kids trying sweets for the first time, 'cause they never had chocolate or good fruit or anything like that. They start getting teary-eyed when they hear how other parents treat their kids and compare it to their parents. There's a downright uncomfortable moment when the mother of Sleeping Beauty totally disregards the daughter of Maleficent because she couldn't see her daughter for 16 years. And it's treated with all seriousness! I... (Sighs) okay, so if we're gonna take this really seriously, maybe you should cut scenes like this!
The Evil Queen: If we'll help you find the things...
Evie: Like a prince?
The Evil Queen: Like my waistline.
Maleficent: Like the magic wand! Hello!
Doug (vo): These things clearly don't go together, and I have no idea how this was supposed to work! The only possible way I could see this maybe working is if you never actually see the villains, like you see the kids, but the villains are always kept in shadow, and they're legitimately intimidating and scary and, like, your imagination can fill in how threatening they are.
(Scenes focusing on both Maleficent and the song sequences are shown)
Doug (vo): But, no! They have song-and-dance numbers right off from a cheesy Broadway show. This is so clearly not the Maleficent from the original movie, but it's not this other Maleficent you're trying to create either that's, like, really intimidating and destroyed a lot of lives and everything either. She's a joke, she's a punchline, but the movie doesn't always treat it that way. The song-and-dance numbers are similar. At first, they're actually kind of impressive. This is the guy who did the High School Musical films (Kenny Ortega), so, yeah, it's choreographed really nice, the songs, at first, are kind of catchy. Heck, even the emotional ones are done relatively well, much better than Camp Rock or Cheetah Girls anyway. I feel legitimate emotion here. But then, you immediately take that point away when you hear their R&B version of "Be Our Guest".
(That song sequence is shown)
Singers and dancers: [singing] Tie your napkin round your neck, cherie, and we'll provide the rest...
Prince Ben: That's right!
Doug (vo; laughs): Oh, my God! Stop! Stop! Stop!
Doug (vo): Like I said, it's kind of hard to blame the director or the actors, 'cause it very much feels like they're just following orders and they're doing it as best they can. But the order is a tone-confused mess, and just not a good idea, like...at all! They talk about prejudice and the sins of the parents that shouldn't be passed down to the kids, and, yeah, that's something for older kids to get into, it's very relevant. But the idea is clearly meant for kindergartners, and half the time, that's how it's portrayed, except when it's trying to be portrayed as this really dramatic musical. (Sighs) Yeah, so, it is really stupid, but I will give credit it's not...as stupid as it could've been. Well, okay, very large chunks are. But there's also a lot of very talented songwriters, choreographers, singers, dancers, actors. It's the right people for the wrong project. It's hard to know who the audience is supposed to be, but seeing how they made a sequel, I guess it did find an audience, and...and if they like it, good for them. Like I said, there's really nothing wrong in it. It's just...so stupid. If this is the kind of corny insanity that does it for you, I'd be lying if I said I didn't almost understand. It is fascinating in its choices. But if you're looking for a movie where all this talent comes together in a coherent story, then you ain't gonna live happily ever after here.
(The final scene, showing Mal and Prince Ben dancing with each other, and Mal smiling to the camera while her eyes turn green, is shown)