It’s about time to flip the script! Charming is one of the most enjoyable animation films to come out this year. It’s definitely family fun that flips the script and says no to the patriarchal narrative that has long run rampant in any film that has a “Prince Charming”.
This film is about bucking the trends. The Princesses have lives, there are entire tribes that are run by women, the Prince sounds Spanish and there’s just a diversity that is unmatched by other films in the same genre. And it’s hilarious.
Usually, the Princesses are made to sound like they are helpless damsels in distress who can’t think for themselves, but here, Charming is the one who needs protecting from himself and he’s definitely a sandwich short of a picnic.
He has these weird internal speech monologues where he stops mid-sentence to say things like: “There’s an echo in my head. I didn’t know there was this much space in there.” Ha!
Ok, so here’s the low-down. We meet a young man called 'Charming' (voiced by Wilmer Valderrama) at a point where his life is about to change. You see, when he was just a baby, an evil fairy spilled charming dust on him, thus cursing him to come across as relentlessly charming to every woman he encounters.
The only thing that can destroy the curse is a kiss from his true love. If he doesn’t find true love by a certain age - which is pretty much where we meet him in the story - it’s tickets. The problem is Charming already has most of the women in his town pining after him, much to the annoyance of their husbands.
And an even bigger problem? As we know, he’s been going around kissing all the damsels and promising that they will “live happily ever after. Now, Sleeping Beauty (voiced by G.E.M.), Snow White (voiced by Avril Lavigne) and Cinderella (voiced by Ashley Tisdale) are all planning their weddings - unbeknown to each other - to the same guy: Charming.
It’s a lively time in the town. Everyone is out to get Charming before the curse finishes him off and to save himself, he must go on an epic journey that will require him to show courage, be selfless and find love.
Meanwhile, there is a bandit called Lenore (voiced by Demi Lovato), who has no time to be a lass, a damsel, a lady or any of the stereotypes. She is a rascal, a scoundrel, a thief even. Her number one goal is to steal from the rich and give to herself.
Lenore agrees to be Charming’s guide on this dangerous journey but she can’t do it as herself because her pretty mug is on Wanted posters across town so she pretends to be a man.
Honestly, the only reason this film is not a five-star film is that it feels like we’re being tricked. That plot twist where Charming doesn’t perish but instead, still gets the girl, reinforces the idea that women exist to entertain men’s advances.
That you can’t be smart, resourceful and make your own money forever - at some point, you have to cave and become someone’s wife, someone’s mother.
It’s misleading to young girls. Just as the idea that Princesses find themselves in a pickle and instead of solving their own problems, they have to wait for a guy to bring their glass slipper, or to wake them up from narcolepsy or to kiss them as salvation is harmful.
It’s also not lost on me that Demi and Wilmer are paired together as Lenore and Charming in this film. But that sadness can quickly disappear when you hear Sia, who voices a half-oracle, sing or when the Princesses do a song called My Trophy Boy that sounds like Hannah Montana and Nicki Minaj objectifying the opposite sex.
This movie is fun, it pokes fun at societal stereotypes and will definitely make the kids in your life think.