tek's rating:

Descendants, Disney Channel
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Caution: spoilers!

This originally aired in July 2015, but I didn't have access to Disney Channel at the time, so I couldn't see it until I got it on DVD, in September 2017. Leading up to the movie's premiere, there was a microseries called School of Secrets, which I watched on YouTube prior to watching the DVD.

The movie begins with some narration about how twenty years ago, Belle and the Beast got married, and Beast became king and united all the kingdoms from various fairy tales into the United States of Auradon, and banished all the villains (and their sidekicks) to the Isle of the Lost, which was surrounded by a magical barrier. In the present, Prince Ben, the son of Queen Belle (Keegan Connor Tracy) and King Beast, turns 16, and is soon to be crowned the new king. Before that happens, he tells his parents that his first decree will be to allow the children of villains to come to Auradon. This will begin with a trial period in which four such teenagers will be allowed to attend Auradon Prep, where Ben himself is a student. The four he's chosen are Mal (the daughter of Maleficent), Evie (the daughter of the Evil Queen), Jay (the son of Jafar), and Carlos (the son of Cruella de Vil). The four of them like to consider themselves evil, and Mal is apparently the leader of the pack. But they all have parental issues; none of them seem to quite live up to their parents' evil standards. Anyway, Maleficent (Kristin Chenoweth) sees this as an opportunity for Mal and her friends to steal the magic wand of the Fairy Godmother, which would allow Maleficent and other villains to escape their prison and take over the world. (Which, btw, seems to be set in the modern era, with computers and cell phones and videogames and whatnot. How that works out to being 20 years after any of the old Disney movies or the fairy tales on which they're based, I have no idea. But it probably doesn't matter.)

Anyway... when the four villains' children first arrive at the school, they really just want to accomplish the mission Maleficent had given them. (Although Evie does have her mother's vanity, and rather hopes to find herself a prince.) But gradually, they do all come to appreciate some of the ways good is preferable to evil. I must say, Prince Ben has a girlfriend named Audrey (the daughter of Aurora, aka Sleeping Beauty), who understandably has a particular disdain for Mal, because of what Mal's mother did to her mother. But it's pretty obvious from the start that Ben doesn't really like Audrey all that much, and that he develops an immediate crush on Mal (though she seems either oblivious or disinterested, because she's focused on winning her mother's respect). The four young villains try to steal the magic wand from a museum, but that doesn't go well. So Mal befriends Jane, the Fairy Godmother's daughter, and tries to trick her into a situation that would allow Mal to steal the wand. That doesn't work either. Eventually they learn that the want will be used at Ben's coronation, and hatch a plan to steal it then. The plan requires Mal and the others to bake some cookies that would put Ben under a love spell, so he'd dump Audrey and make Mal his new girlfriend, which would put her near him during the coronation. Of course, she ends up actually caring for him, and reconsidering the plan.

Meanwhile, there are minor subplots for the other three villains. Jay joins a sports team. Carlos learns to like a dog, after his mother had always told him lies that had made him terrified of dogs. Evie wants to date Chad (the son of Cinderella and Prince Charming), but there's also a geek named Doug (the son of Dopey the dwarf, though Doug himself doesn't seem to be a dwarf, for some reason). And he may turn out to be a better match for Evie than Chad, anyway. And... there are other characters we see a bit of, including Lonnie (the daughter of Mulan), who I've read online that fans of the movie suspect of being the one who set up the hidden camera in "School of Secrets." Personally, I have no idea, because she was far too minor a character in the movie for me to form any ideas about her at all. And still she's probably the most prominent of any minor characters in the movie, because actually I can't recall any other students that I haven't already mentioned. At all. And when I think back to the microseries (which I watched two days before I watched this movie), I can't recall any particular connection between any of the characters in those shorts and this movie. (Maybe I would if I re-watched the shorts, but at the moment I don't care enough to bother.)

Anyway, there is, of course, a happy ending. And there are some songs that are generally okay. And there's a spin-off CGI series called "Descendants: Wicked World," which I intend to check out. And a sequel TV movie, which I also hope to see eventually. And some books that I have no intention of reading. But at any rate, I found the movie itself fairly fun, even if I felt like we didn't really get to know all of the villain kids as well as we did Mal. (Likewise, we didn't get to know the villain parents as well as Maleficent; and it wasn't until I watched the closing credits that I learned the Evil Queen was played by Kathy Najimy. I wish I would have recognized her while watching the movie.) And... I guess I don't know what else to say.

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