The happily ever after (HEA) trope can often be seen as another tool of the patriarchy. Want to ensure your life will be filled with meaning, happiness, and hope, as a woman? Find the man of your dreams and watch the sparks fly. Hallmark movies are some of the worst culprits of this phenomenon, along with Disney movies. The fairy tale ending, girl meets boy, girl’s life is centered on catching said boy, getting married, having babies, and living happily ever after.
One of my favorite Disney movies turns this trope on its head. Frozen showed us that true love doesn’t have to come as romantic love, and that happily ever after can look like a single woman who runs her own country, living her best life.
Recently, I noticed a new movie being featured on Disney Plus, Godmothered. I sighed at the title, figuring this was going to be yet another traditional HEA story of girl meets boy and everything is perfect.
I can’t express how surprised and delighted I was to realize, Godmothered actually got it right in the end.
The remainder of this piece contains spoilers for Godmothered.
In a magical place called the Motherland, Fairy godmothers train so that they can help people’s wishes come true. Among them is the youngest, and only fairy who is not elderly, Eleanor Fay Bloomingbottom (played by Jillian Bell), who gleefully commits to the craft despite not being very good at it. The godmothers stick to a “formula” that many have grown bored with (e.g. true love, castle, etc.).
Eleanor learns from another godmother that the school is to be shut down, as nobody makes wishes anymore, and that they will have to learn to be tooth fairies instead. Determined, Eleanor checks the assignment room and discovers a letter from a 10 year old girl named Mackenzie Walsh (played by Isla Fisher) and decides to help her.
Eleanor ends up in the real world where a friendly trucker takes her to Boston, Massachusetts. To her shock, Mackenzie is a miserable 40 year old, single mom who works at a failing television station that reports on puff pieces. Eleanor manages to convince Mackenzie she is a fairy godmother by displaying her magic. Not wanting to leave Eleanor all alone in the city, Mackenzie takes her home where she lives with her two children, Mia and Jane and her sister Paula. Based on a comment made by Mackenzie, Eleanor comes to believe her husband ran away.
Eleanor begins affecting the family’s lives when she starts tagging along with Mackenzie to work and meets her coworkers Duff and Hugh Prince, the latter of whom has feelings for Mackenzie, much to Eleanor’s delight.
Still sounds like a traditional fairy tale, doesn’t it? Give it time.
Eleanor learns from Mia that Mackenzie’s husband died. Agnes tells Eleanor that she needs to have Mackenzie’s true love found by midnight the next night, or she will lose her powers. She convinces Mackenzie to attend a party being thrown by their unscrupulous boss Grant and attempts to use her powers to make her fall in love with Hugh.
This fails and Mackenzie berates her for trying to impede on her life.
Jane has severe anxiety about singing in public, but she needs to sing for the high school at the Christmas festival that night. They find Paula trying to help Eleanor create a pumpkin carriage. They tell her that they need her and she creates a watermelon carriage to get them to the show on time. Jane performs using her father’s guitar to a stunned audience.
Moira, the headmistress, arrives to take Eleanor away; calling her a failure. However, Eleanor informs her that she realizes that the formula is dated and that everyone has their own idea of true love. Mackenzie’s true love is her children, not some outdated trope of finding a man. After encouragement from the Walshes and the audience, Moira concedes that Eleanor was a success and the two of them head back with the assignment completed.
In the epilogue, rendered in traditional animation, Eleanor has become a teacher in Motherland and is seen teaching new children godmothers the new way. This is one of my favorite parts in the movie, as it shows male and female future fairy godmothers!
Although the story begins somewhat similar to most fairy tales, like Frozen before it, it morphs into a less traditional tale. There’s nothing wrong with getting married and living HEA, if that’s what you choose. But what I enjoyed most about this story (and Frozen) is they let people know that isn’t the only answer.
In a world where happiness seems so far away most of the time, it’s nice to be shown it comes in different forms.