Starring: Jillian Bell, Isla Fisher, Santiago Cabrera, June Squibb, Jane Curtin, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Stephnie Weir
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Disney+’s fantasy comedy directed by Sharon Maguire. Set in a magical world known as The Motherland, the story centers on Eleanor (Jillian Bell), a young, inexperienced fairy godmother-in-training, who discovers that her chosen profession is facing extinction. Determined to show that fairy godmothers are still needed, Eleanor tries to help a girl whose wish was ignored, only to discover that she grew into a woman named Mackenzie (Isla Fisher). who, having lost her husband years ago, has become disillusioned with the idea of a “happily ever after”.
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Agnes: Once upon a time, there was a magical place called the Motherland, where Fairy Godmothers lived and learned all they needed to know about godmothering. Oh, blah, blah, blah. We all know how this bit goes. This is not your usual fairy tale. Fairy tales end with “happily ever after”, and that’s where we begin.
Agnes: Good morning, Motherland! It’s almost the weekend, and you know what that means. Grab a pumpkin, raise your wands, break out the glass slippers, it’s time to party like it’s 1699. I’m going to kick things off with everyone’s favorite pop hit. [puts on opera music]
Agnes: This is the story of Eleanor. She’s the Motherland’s youngest trainee, and the only person who’s bothered to apply in decades. All she wanted was to graduate, to be a real Fairy Godmother, to have her name in a book alongside the greats.
Moira: Recite it with me, please. Fairy Godmothers: A glittery gown turns a frown upside down.
Moira: Once you’ve conjured the gown, you’re on your way to step two. Which is? Fairy Godmothers: Find their true love. Moira: Correct. Now, once the gown and true love are in place, we move on to step three.
Moira: Step three is happily ever after. It just happens.
Greta: Everyone knows that people have stopped believing in happily ever after. Well, everyone except Eleanor, that is. And she’s never going to be a Fairy Godmother.
Agnes: [after finding out that they are to be retrained as Tooth Fairies] Now, being a Tooth Fairy didn’t sound so bad to me. You only work nights. You’ve always got a little change in your pocket. But Eleanor, she was not about to give up her dream. All she needed was one assignment. And about forty to fifty years more training.
Eleanor: Can you keep a secret? Agnes: I am a secret.
Agnes: [as Eleanor is about to leave Motherland] Knock them dead, kid. Eleanor: Oh, Agnes, if everything goes right, nobody’s going to die.
Eleanor: [as she sees an inflatable scarecrow] What in Godmother’s name!
Eleanor: [after making the pumpkins explode] There’s got to be a better way to travel.
Beth: [finds Eleanor by the side of a road] You can’t sleep here. Eleanor: Why? Are there dragons? Evil fairies? Beth: In a manner of speaking, yeah.
Eleanor: [referring to the truck] Oh, your carriage must’ve required an enormous pumpkin. How many footmen are inside? Beth: None. Just me. Beth. Eleanor: [laughs] Beth. You’re hilarious. Everyone knows women don’t drive themselves. That’s what mice are for.
Beth: Sweetheart, are you on drugs? Eleanor: Of course not. What are drugs? Beth: Oh, boy. That’s a yes.
Eleanor: I’m looking for my future forever friend, Mackenzie Walsh. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts. In America. Beth: Let’s see what we can find. [gets out her phone] Eleanor: Oh, good. A map. Beth: Siri, search Mackenzie Walsh. Siri: Okay. Here’s what I found. Eleanor: Who said that? Is there a genie in there? Don’t answer that.
Eleanor: So then I said, “I don’t want to be a Tooth Fairy.” Beth: Yep. I lost my heart to a Tooth Fairy one night at Burning Man in 2004. Eleanor: They’re no good.
Floor Manager: What do you think you’re doing? Eleanor: Looking for a sad little girl named Mackenzie Walsh. Awkward haircut, red, like an angry leprechaun.
Eleanor: I’m looking for Mackenzie Walsh. Mackenzie: Yep, that is me. Hey, Murry, can you please move it along? I promised my kids I’d cook dinner tonight. Eleanor: Then I must be looking for your daughter. Could you tell me how to find her? Mackenzie: Who are you? The world’s laziest kidnapper? Why would I tell you where my kid is? Is this someone’s idea of a joke?
Eleanor: No, it can’t be you! You’re old. So old! This is a disaster. A woman your age couldn’t possibly still need someone to make her dreams come true. Mackenzie: Yeah, right. Because I’m clearly living the dream.
Mackenzie: Now, who are you? Eleanor: Well, I’m Eleanor, and I’m your Fairy Godmother. Mackenzie: Security. Eleanor: And I’m here to help you find happily ever after.
Barb: [referring to increasing their rating] Okay, I could try a different shade of spray tan. Grant: No, no, no, no. Ever since we switched you to coconut glow, you are killing it with teen girls and shut-ins.
Grant: [to Hugh] I’m sorry, what’s your name? I don’t care. You are boring. I am bored. You have bored me. Look at this guy. 2008 called. Wants its haircut back. Barb: Actually, the numbers on his hair are huge. And his face and his smile. You should give your head a pat on the back. Way to go, Head.
Security Guard: [as they throw Eleanor out of the studio building] She ought to be committed. Eleanor: Oh, I am. Totally committed.
Eleanor: I’m your Fairy Godmother. Mackenzie: Just back off, lady! Eleanor: Look, I know what you’re thinking, and it’s true. Most Fairy Godmothers are a lot older. But if you can overlook my youth, and your total lack of experience, you’ll find I have a real can-do attitude that’s going to take us very, very far.
Mackenzie: [after Eleanor uses her magic to put Mackenzie in a sleeping bag] Wait, Ray, you can see this? Ray: It’s kind of hard to miss. You look hot. Mackenzie: You’re not really supposed to say that kind of thing in the workplace anymore. Ray: I mean, your face is all red and sweaty.
Eleanor: [to Mackenzie] Now, do you have a carriage here, or shall we hitch a ride in someone else’s pumpkin?
Mackenzie: [referring to Grant] He can’t see me like this! Eleanor: Oh! Why? Mackenzie: Because you poofed me into a sleeping bag.
Mackenzie: I’m going to drop you at the South Station, and you can get on a Greyhound and head back to wherever it is you came from. Eleanor: What? Did you say a greyhound? Mackenzie: Yeah, a Greyhound bus. Eleanor: They’re turning greyhounds into buses? Typically, they just become footmen. Actually, they would be faster than a pumpkin.
Mackenzie: Don’t you have somewhere else that you can go? Eleanor: No. Not locally. Oh, except for those lovely princes in the alley said that I could stay with them. As long as I didn’t mind sharing knitting needles.
Mackenzie: Take this money and just get yourself something to eat. Eleanor: Oh, thank you. I am really hungry. [bites into the money and starts chewing it] Eleanor: Oh, it’s hard and thin. Mackenzie: Wait, stop! Spit it out! Spit it. Ew.
Eleanor: Why have we stopped at this hovel? Shouldn’t we proceed directly to the castle? Mackenzie: This is the castle. I live here. Real estate prices must be much more expensive in Boston than they are in Motherland.
Eleanor: You’re putting me in the dungeon? Mackenzie: It’s not a dungeon. It’s a basement.
Mackenzie: [referring to Jane’s anxiety of public singing] Did Beyoncé hyperventilate so badly in her eighth grade talent show that she passed out and cracked a rib? In seventh grade, it was hives. Remember? She itched and scratched those scabs so badly they got infected, I had to take her to the hospital at two in the morning. She had a fever of a hundred and three. Doctor said she could have got sepsis. Paula: If you ever get sick of your job as a TV producer, maybe you could become a motivational speaker.
Eleanor: [referring to wedding photos] Is this your true love? Mackenzie: Not anymore. Eleanor: What? What do you mean? Step three says that you find your true love, and you live happily ever after. Mackenzie: Well, we did live happily. But life isn’t always a fairy tale. Sometimes people grow, or change, or get divorced, or fall out of love, or run off and join a cult, or fall in love with a skinny Pilates instructor.
Mackenzie: Life isn’t as simple as “happily ever after”. Eleanor: But it has to be. I came all this way to help you find your heart’s desire. Mackenzie: Well, my heart’s desire now would be a clean house, and maybe the eyebrows that I had before I started stress plucking. Eleanor: That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. What happened to the little girl that wrote me this letter? Mackenzie: I guess she grew up.
Eleanor: [referring to Mackenzie’s eyebrows] Now they look just great. Like two little fox tails. Mackenzie: What? What have you done to my eyebrows? What have you done to my house? Eleanor: Last night, I did some thinking. Now, I know you don’t believe in happily ever after, but that’s why I’m here. And if we’re going to find it for you, you’ll need a castle. The hovel won’t work. Mackenzie: You turned it into Medieval Times. Eleanor: I know. Right?
Mackenzie: You turned my dog into a pig?! Eleanor: Well, technically, he’s a piglet. I was trying for a woodland creature to help out with all this housework, obviously. But then the spell got away from me.
Mia: Mom has a Fairy Godmother. Mackenzie: No. Eleanor is a set decorator from the station.
Eleanor: [everyone screams when they see the raccoon] Oh, it’s okay. He’s just here to help with the housework. Mackenzie: Oh, right. Does he do laundry as well? Eleanor: I’d keep him away from your clothes. Raccoons are best for light work. They’re very good with brooms, dusting, and sweeping.
Mia: Can you magic me a new iPad? Eleanor: Sure. One eye patch, as requested.
Paula: Wait, can we just take it back to the fact that there is a raccoon sweeping your kitchen? Eleanor: His name is Gary, by the way. Paula: You know what? I don’t understand what’s going on right now, but it’s going on Facebook.
Eleanor: I can’t leave until I help you. Mackenzie: I don’t need any help! Jane: Are you kidding? All you do is complain about how stressed you are. Mia: She’s always tired. Jane: And grumpy. Mackenzie: No, that is not totally true. Is it?
Duff: Hiya, I’m Duff, on camera. Eleanor: Duff Oncamera. What a lovely name. Oh, wow. Look at all this stuff. You must have the strength of a giant, and the brains of a wizard to be in charge of all this.
Duff: What do you do? Eleanor: Oh, I help people find their happily ever after. Duff: You must be from California.
Eleanor: Oh, my Godmothers. That Hugh Prince is so handsome and nice. And according to Duff, he’s not living happily ever after with anyone. Mackenzie: Okay. Enough with the “happily ever after”.
Duff: [referring to Eleanor’s swollen face] This is what I look like after I have shellfish. Did you have any seafood? Eleanor: Not really. Just six bowls of chowder, and eighteen lobster rolls.
Mackenzie: I know you mean well, but this isn’t going to work. Eleanor: What? No, it’s only been one day. Mackenzie: Yeah, and my house looks like Game of Thrones. You turned my dog into a piglet. You almost blew up the Bruins. Eleanor: Well, because you stabbed me. Mackenzie: I saved your life. Who eats that much seafood? Eleanor: Sharks!
Agnes: Well, what’s the holdup? Eleanor: Nothing. Mackenzie’s not ten, for one thing. She’s old, and she’s got kids. And she says that people run off with “piratis” instructors, which I think is how she says pirates. And there’s this prince named Hugh, but she won’t even consider him. She doesn’t believe in happily ever after. Greta was right. Agnes: Sheesh! Eleanor: I know! Agnes: Sounds like she doesn’t even believe in “happy”.
Eleanor: I figured out why you’re not interested in happily ever after. Mackenzie: Because it’s a fairy tale construct that teaches people that normal life is not enough? Eleanor: Because you need a makeover! Relax. You’ve made it quite clear that you prefer dressing like a crone. I’m talking about a happiness makeover.
Eleanor: You need that moment, where you dance through the town, and you’re singing to the animals and all the villagers. Mackenzie: Huh. Yeah, okay. Remind me to add frolicking to my schedule.
Eleanor: [to Mackenzie] Listen, Hugh told me about this place downtown that is full of people, places, and potions that are all designed to make you happy. There might even be someplace that could magically give you the skin of a young maiden.
Eleanor: Son of a butterscotch. That is good. Who is that? Jane: Nobody. Mia: It’s her. Eleanor: That’s you? Oh, my goodness. Oh. You’re really talented. Jane: You really think so? Eleanor: If I sounded like that, I would just walk around singing to everyone. On the street, in school, in forests, in castles, on trains, in dells and meadows, those large moving metal staircases! Electronic superstores… Jane: Yeah, we get it. You’d sing a lot.
Mia: Mom doesn’t believe in “happy”, or crafts, or Christmas. Eleanor: I knew it! Mia: She says to Aunt Paula, “There’s no point in believing in happy, because just when you do, something comes along and smashes it right off the side of I-95.” Eleanor: What does she mean? Mia: I think she’s talking about when my dad died. Eleanor: He died? Oh, no! No, no, no. I thought he just ran off to teach skinny pirates.
Jane: [after Eleanor, Jane, and Mia sing in the street] I think Eleanor fixed me. I got hit in the face with a snowball, and we sounded kind of terrible. But I didn’t barf. And we got six dollars. And a chicken nugget.
Mackenzie: [as they’re putting up Christmas lights] Gary, a little higher on the left. Gary! That’s your right paw. Are raccoons usually this dismissive? Eleanor: City creatures certainly have more attitude than those from the woodland realm. Would you prefer I conjure a badger instead? They tend to be more biddable creatures.
Mackenzie: I can’t believe we’re discussing the work ethic of a raccoon. I don’t know what’s happening to me. Eleanor: You’re starting to believe in magic, aren’t you? Mackenzie: That ship has sailed.
Paula: I love you and your kids, but if I have to untangle these lights, I’m going to lose my mind. Mackenzie: You’re losing your mind? I just watched a raccoon hang these lights.
Eleanor: Maybe we just brush out your hair before you see Hugh Prince. Mackenzie: Stop it! Eleanor: He’s just very handsome, and he’s charming, and I just want you to look your best.
Eleanor: How does Storm Watch work exactly? Hugh: So, you see how delightful this is? Everyone’s happy and having fun? Eleanor: Oh, it’s perfect. So idyllic. Hugh: Well, we’re going to avoid showing that at all costs. Grant wants us to focus on traffic chaos and runaway snowplows. Mackenzie: Or people fighting to the death over canned food.
Mackenzie: Most of our job is coming up with puns like, “Snow laughing matter,” or, “Snow end to the misery in sight.” Hugh: “Snow way out.” “There’s no business like snow business.” Mackenzie: “Unfortunately, there’s no Avalanche on Main Street.” Or, “Death by snowball.” So I guess we’ll go with the old tried and true, “Kids sledding on a hill” shot. Eleanor: Ooh! “Let’s snow!” That means, “Let’s go.”
Mackenzie: [after the sledding accident] Are we fired? Hugh: The station’s website already has two hundred thousand hits. Grant says we’re viral like his aunt’s chicken pox. But he’s thrilled.
Eleanor: This is a very big wand. Duff: Pool cue. It’s a pool cue. That’s what that is. I get it. I see the mix-up.
Mackenzie: I never pictured you as a divorced guy. Hugh: [sarcastically] I know, it’s impossible to think that anyone would let all of this get away, but it happened.
Mackenzie: What’s it like being divorced? Hugh: Oh, it’s, what can I say? It’s lonely. Mackenzie: Yeah. I get that. Sometimes, you just want somebody to, you know, come over and shovel the driveway.
Mackenzie: You might be right about Hugh. I’m not saying he’s my prince, but he’s kind of charming. Eleanor: I knew it. He’s handsome… Mackenzie: Eleanor. I know you want to help, but I’m not quite sure I’m ready for another fairy tale.
Eleanor: There’s a holiday party tonight. Mackenzie: I know all about the holiday party, and I’m not going. It’s not my thing. Eleanor: What part? Parties? Christmas? Fun? Mackenzie: Uh-huh. Eleanor: Fine, stay home. After all, nine out of ten fairy tales begin with, “Once upon a time, something amazing happened while she was drinking wine in her sweatpants.”
Mia: [referring to Mackenzie] You can make yourself look like that without any magic? Paula: Yes, because she’s beautiful inside and out. Eleanor: True. And she’s wearing the only thing that really matters. Jane: Pushup bra? Mia: Spanx? Eleanor: A smile. Mackenzie: Actually, all three.
Eleanor: [after she magics Mackenzie into an old fashioned ball gown] Nice dress. Is it new? Mackenzie: What have you done to me? Eleanor: Don’t be mad. I’m just trying to help. Mackenzie: Really? Like this? Eleanor: You look absolutely beautiful.
Mackenzie: [after Eleanor accidentally ruins the party for her] You came here and did exactly what you promised you wouldn’t do. And the worst part is, you didn’t even need to. I was actually having fun tonight. I felt pretty. But why isn’t that enough for you? Why am I a failure unless I’m dressed like ginger Elvis?
Eleanor: You’re not a failure. Mackenzie: Then why are you here? Eleanor: Because I don’t want to fail! They’re closing down the Motherland. So, you’re my only chance at being a Fairy Godmother. And if I don’t get you to “happily ever after”, then I’ll have to spend the rest of my life as a Tooth Fairy.
Mackenzie: All this time, I thought you cared about wanting to make me happy. You just want it for you. You don’t care what I want, not if it gets in your way. Eleanor: I’m so sorry, Mackenzie. Mackenzie: I’m sorry too, Eleanor, but you need to leave.
Eleanor: [referring to Mackenzie] She was right about everything. I’m not Fairy Godmother material. And “happily ever afters” those are just for fairy tales.
Mackenzie: You want us to spin things, and twist things, and tell stories about bad people doing bad things, but people want more than fearmongering. They want to laugh, and to hope, and be inspired to see the magic in the world. Because it’s real. Grant: That’s cute. You’re fired! Mackenzie: Yeah. No kidding.
Jane: [crying] You were right. I can’t do this. I can’t do anything. Mackenzie: Oh, I never said that. Jane: Yeah, well, you never said that I could. Or that you thought that I’d be amazing. But Eleanor did. And now she’s gone. And I can’t do this. I can’t. Mackenzie: I’m so sorry. Honey, if you need Eleanor, I’ll find her. I promise.
Eleanor: [after she agrees to help Jane sing at the Christmas parade] First things first. Let’s get you dressed. [she uses her magic to create a gown for Jane] Eleanor: Son of a butterscotch! I actually did it!
Barb: Oh, just a little fun fact. I played tuba in high school. Yeah, it’s not a great instrument for a teenage girl. If you blow too hard, you can get a permanent eye bulge. Just, slight… Anyway, that’s a story for another time.
Jane: [as she’s about to go on stage] I’m sorry, I can’t do this. Mackenzie: Hey. Listen. I didn’t believe in you because I forgot how to believe in myself. And I was lost, and I felt scared, and I taught you to be scared. You don’t need a spell because you are already magical.
Moira: You’re the reason she’s in this mess. She stayed to help a hopeless case, and if I don’t get her home right now, she could lose everything. Come with me. Mackenzie: Wait. Is that true? Eleanor: No! You are not hopeless.
Moira: [in front of the Christmas parade crowd] Eleanor Fay Bloomingbottom. Eleanor: Don’t tell them my middle name. Moira: You get over here right now! This whole mess is exactly why Fairy Godmothers are supposed to follow the rules. And you are not a Fairy Godmother.
Eleanor: I am a Fairy Godmother. And what Fairy Godmothers are supposed to do is help. I did. I helped Jane. Moira: Jane was not the assignment. And even if she were, there are no more assignments. Mackenzie was the last one. And I do not see a dress, or a prince. And you did not get her to happily ever after. Eleanor: But… Moira: You did not save the Motherland. All you did was fail!
Mackenzie: Eleanor, correct me if I’m wrong, but does your formula require my true love to be a prince? Eleanor: Why, no. I guess it doesn’t. Mackenzie: Well, that’s good. Mia, Jane. Then these are my true loves. And you didn’t fail. You helped me remember how to live happily. Moira: That’s not the same as happily ever after.
Mackenzie: Four years ago, I thought my story was over. And Eleanor helped show me that it wasn’t. Moira: That’s not how it works. Eleanor: Then how it works needs to change. We think that love needs to look a certain way. A prince, a castle, a gown. We’re trapped in the fairy tale when the real world is full of so much more. Instead of telling people what true love is supposed to look like, maybe we should let them tell us.
Hugh: [as Eleanor is asking what love looks like to him] Love means dressing up as a colonial soldier because you miss your son. And sometimes love just means shoveling someone’s driveway. Eleanor: That one didn’t really make sense.
Eleanor: Love comes in so many forms, Moira. Why can’t we see that? Mackenzie: Eleanor didn’t magically fix my life. She showed me how to fix it myself. Eleanor: That’s how we can help them.
Moira: Maybe it’s time to re-write the book. Now, let’s go home and save some Fairy Godmothers.
Eleanor: [teaching children godmothers in Motherland] There are those who might say, I had spent my whole life believing in fairy tales. Well, now I believe in them more than ever. It’s just that they come in all different shapes and sizes. Just like us. And thanks to our newly patented approach of, “Forget ever after. Just live happily,” we’ve been busy.
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