Belle (Keegan Connor Tracy) and Beast (Dan Payne) have married and become king and queen. Following the establishment of the United States of Auradon, they have created a prosperous new nation from the surrounding kingdoms, and banished the villains to the Isle of the Lost, an island slum surrounded by a barrier where magic is suspended. Now, twenty years later, their son, Ben (Mitchell Hope), who will soon be crowned king, announces that his first proclamation is to give four selected children from the Isle of the Lost the chance to live in Auradon, away from the influence of their villainous parents: Carlos (Cameron Boyce), son of Cruella de Vil (Wendy Raquel Robinson); Jay (BooBoo Stewart), son of Jafar (Maz Jobrani); Evie (Sofia Carson), daughter of the Evil Queen (Kathy Majimy); and Mal (Dove Cameron), daughter of Maleficent (Kristin Chenoworth), despite his father’s protests. On the island, Maleficent instructs the quartet to steal the Fairy Godmother’s (Melanie Paxson) magic wand to release the barrier so she can take over Auradon.
Traveling to Auradon Preparatory, the four meet Ben and his self-proclaimed girlfriend Audrey (Sarah Jeffrey), daughter of Princess Aurora. They also meet the Fairy Godmother, the school’s headmistress. Evie uses her mother’s pocket-sized magic mirror to locate the wand in a nearby museum, and Mal uses her mother’s spinning wheel from the museum to put the security guard to sleep, but they fail to steal the wand due to a barrier around it. After learning that the Fairy Godmother will use the wand at Ben’s coronation, the four wait it out by attending classes, but start to fit in with the students. Jay is recruited into the school’s “tourney” team (a sport similar to field hockey, hurling and lacrosse), while Carlos overcomes his fear of dogs by befriending the school’s dog, Dude. Evie, though intelligent, acts vain to impress Chad (Jedidiah Goodacre), Cinderella’s son, but ends up doing his homework for him. Dopey’s son, Doug (Zachary Gibson), encourages her not to pander to others and be herself.
Mal becomes popular, using Maleficent’s spell book to improve the looks of Jane (Breanna D’Amico) and Lonnie (Dianne Doan), the daughters of the Fairy Godmother and Mulan, respectively. Jane in particular dislikes her looks, especially because her mother won’t use her own magic to change them. Learning that Ben’s “girlfriend” will be seated close to the wand during the coronation, which is used during the ceremony, Mal bakes a cookie laced with a love potion and gives it to Ben, who falls madly in love with her, much to the shock of his friends, particularly Audrey. On a date with Ben, Mal becomes conflicted with her growing inner goodness and desire to please her mother, unsure of how to react to Ben’s feelings towards her. During the school’s family day, the villains’ children are ostracized after an encounter with Audrey’s grandmother, Queen Leah (Judith Maxie), who hates Mal because Maleficent’s curse was the reason she missed Aurora’s childhood, prompting an argument that drives Mal to end the beauty spell she used on Jane. While Ben tries to reassure them that everything will be okay after the coronation, Doug tries to remain friendly towards Evie, but Chad forces him to distance himself from her.
At Ben’s coronation, Mal gives him a brownie containing the love spell’s antidote, believing it is unnecessary to keep him under the spell. It turns out, per Ben’s admission, that he was already freed of the spell since their date when he went swimming in the Enchanted Lake, believing that Mal only did it because she really liked him. However, much to Mal’s surprise, it turns out Ben has had feelings for her all along. During Ben’s crowning, a disillusioned Jane grabs the wand from her mother, wanting to improve her beauty, only for her to accidentally destroy the Isle’s barrier. Mal takes the wand from Jane, but torn over what to do, is encouraged by Ben to make her own choice rather than follow Maleficent’s path. Mal recognizes that she and her friends found happiness in Auradon and they choose to be good.
Maleficent crashes the ceremony, freezing everyone except herself and the four villain children. When they defy her, Maleficent transforms into a dragon. Mal and her friends use a counterspell, turning Maleficent into a lizard, her tiny size based on the amount of love in her heart. Mal returns the Fairy Godmother her wand as she unfreezes everyone and tells her not to be hard on Jane. While the villains watch the celebration from afar, Auradon Prep’s students party through the night. Mal’s eyes turn green as she addresses the audience, telling them the story is not over yet.
So I specifically remember seeing this movie back in 2017, the weekend before the second came out. At that time, I was a cast member at the Times Square Disney Store (Shoutout to my O’hana, miss you all) and I was scheduled to work an event, which was the Meet and Greet with the last of Descendants 2, you can read more about that in my next review. Anyway, I didn’t feel right going to work this premier without knowing about this movie, so after work one day I stopped over at Best Buy and picked up a copy of Descendants (I think I bought 2 other films that day too but I can’t remember which they were). For $5, I thought, well I can’t be mad if I don’t like it right. Went home to watch and O M G. In the span of two days, I watched it three times. I loved it. I was excited, I had it memorized. I hadn’t watched a newer Disney Channel Movie since before 2010 but this was a delight. Best $5 I ever spent. So when my son came home from being with my parents for the weekend, we watched it together and he was hooked just as much as we were. Recently, around May or June, my parents finally watched it as well and enjoyed it. I think that is telling when a 3 yr old, 24yr old (at the time) and my 70 year old parents all enjoy it. It is great for the whole family.