Perhaps you are wondering what the title of this review means and whether the new original Disney+ film, Secret Society of Second-Born Royals, contains a lot of in-jokes about cheese.
The film has nothing to do with cheese except that the title is a mouthful and everything about this movie is super cheesy.
Sam is a second-born royal and has always felt second fiddle to her sister who is destined to become queen of Illyria upon her 18th birthday. Sam rebels against her family’s rule and, together with her best friend Mike and as frontwoman of their two-person band, uses music and street jam sessions to push for abolition of the monarchy. (Heavy, right?)
After causing a stir at a local concert, her mother the queen sends Sam to summer school where she learns that “summer school” is code for “super royals training.” Together with a motley crew of four other young royals, Sam and the stereotypical four are taught – in a very short period of time – how to use their powers. The point of the society is allegedly to become more or less a secret agency for the monarchy. (Really, it just seems like it gives second-born royals something to do.) When the dangerous Prisoner 34 escapes his cell and attempts to steal the crown, it is up to the Secret Society of Stereotypical Seconds to save the day.
There is nothing particularly memorable or exciting about Secret Society of Second-Born Royals. The acting is poor and the writing doesn’t fair much better. The film predominantly suffers from trying to do too much (1) by jamming together ideas that have already been done, and (2) by introducing too many issues and subplots without developing or really doing anything with them.
Ideas that have already been done? Think Spy Kids meets Descendants. What a Girl Wants/generic princess movie meets X-men/Marvel/DC. There is also a hint of political and social upheaval thrown in there. While kids and tweens might enjoy a new royalty-meets-superhero take, there are at least 20 other films that have already done a far better job of what this film attempts – and fails – to execute well at all.
Too many issues and subplots sans development? Sam starts out ready to take down the monarchy and somewhere along the line she… changes her mind? There is not one, but two problematic friendships that Sam needs to address while she is still dealing with her dad’s passing, trying to master her powers, and working to uncover a complicated backstory with the villain. This, of course, leaves no time to explore the other super royals beyond what seems like many scenes of them lying in bed and saying a line or two before the story moves right along.
What did I like about this movie? Maybe the soundtrack. I think tween Jess would have taken a liking to some of the music. That is, if she even watched this film. But probably not. She would be too busy making her way through the X-men movies. Less cheese, more grit.
Secret Society of Second-Born Royals will be released on Disney+ this Friday, September 25, 2020.