Still can’t say no to a DCOM

Fans of Disney Channel’s app WATCH Disney Channel were treated to quite the surprise this past weekend as it was revealed that they could access the upcoming Disney Channel Original Movie Descendants a week ahead of its July 31 premiere.

As a Disney nerd and longtime DCOM lover, I of course, checked it out, and it’s about as cheesy and entertaining as you would imagine. See, Descendants tells the story of a world where all of the villains have been banned to Isle of the Lost, while heroes and heroines live it up in the dreamy Auradon.

However, tides turn as – ahead of his coronation – Ben (Mitchell Hope), the son of Belle (Keegan Connor Tracy) and Beast (Dan Payne) decides that his first act as king will be to allow students from the Isle of the Lost to attend Auradon Prep.

Despite their initial shock, the King and Queen oblige, ushering in Mal (Dove Cameron), Carlos (Cameron Boyce), Jay (Booboo Stewart), and Evie (Sofia Carson) – the children of Maleficent (Kristin Chenoweth), Cruella de Vil (Wendy Raquel Robinson), Jafar (Maz Jobrani), and Evil Queen (Kathy Najimy), respectively.

The “Rotten to the Core” foursome head blindly into the sparkling kingdom, predominantly unwanted guests who come armed with a secret plot concocted by Maleficent – to steal the Fairy Godmother’s wand, break the barrier keeping them on Isle of the Lost and you know, achieve world domination and all that jazz.

Chenoweth is an absolute joy as the animatedly wicked villain, showcasing her glowing green eyes, cackling at her underlings, and not hesitating to bring out her fearsome, dragon alter ego as needed.

Of course there are a few musical numbers, so your view of the movie will depend on your level of cynicism vs appreciation of Disney actors-turned-singers. There is a fun remix of Beauty and the Beast’s “Be Our Guest.”

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I will say that as I was watching it something strange occurred to me. In the last handful of new-wave DCOMs, at least three have contained plotlines in which a girl creates or controls a boy by some kind of sci-fi magic so that he will like her.

In Zapped, Zendaya’s character has an app meant to control dogs, which through a few accidents, and a bit of magic, suddenly begins to control all of the boys around her. So she, of course, uses it to get her crush – Spencer Boldman – to like her.

In How to Build a Better Boy China Anne McClain and Kelli Berglund use military software to build a robotic boyfriend a la 1985’s Weird Science. This leads up to Descendants, in which Mal uses a love spell to woo Prince Ben. (To be fair she initially does so in order to gain a spot front and center at his coronation, the better to steal Fairy Godmother’s wand with.)

Anyway, all in all it’s a fun reimagining of some of your favorite Disney characters, a showpiece for some kickin’ emo duds for the villain kids, and features genuinely enviable unicorn tresses.

Descendants premieres on the Disney Channel on Friday, July 31 at 8pm.

Until next time,

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