With its nicely rounded story and message of inclusion, Descendants 3 is possibly the best in this popular series of family-oriented Disney movies.
It’s the saddest too: Cameron Boyce, who has played Cruella De Vil’s son Carlos since the first Descendants four years ago, died July 6 at age 20. He has several sweet moments that stand out in this busy, bustling ensemble entertainment. In one he makes a sentimental little birthday present for Jane, the Fairy Godmother’s daughter (he tells her he used a 3D printer), and he also gets a last spirited bit of dialogue at the very end.
More broadly the plot is about several missteps committed by Maleficent’s daughter Mal (Dove Cameron) when she assumes an important new role in the kingdom: She orders a ban on further immigration to Auradon from the Isle of the Lost — read into that what you will, political commentators — and unintentionally makes a rival of Sleeping Beauty’s kid Audrey (Sarah Jeffery).
Feeling upstaged, Audrey decides there’s no benefit to being a Disney princess, singing, “I never thought of myself as mean/ I always thought that I’d be the queen/ And there’s no in-between.” Soon she’s cackling madly and mucking around with spells.
The telecast will also be dedicated in Boyce’s honor.
Descendants 3 premieres Friday at 8 p.m. ET on the Disney Channel.