Meghan Markle’s Disney Debut is getting panned by several critics.
Markle provides the voiceover on the family-friendly Disney documentary.
Per The Guardian last autumn, before she and her husband made it into their current Californian lockdown, Meghan Markle recorded the narration for this lavish new documentary from the Disneynature production unit, streaming on Disney+, her fee being a donation to the Elephants Without Borders conservation charity working in Botswana.
The film shows the annual, dramatic migration of an elephant herd across the Kalahari in search of food and drinking water, moving from Botswana’s Okavango Delta in its dry season, heading for the Zambezi and the Victoria Falls: the last being an awe-inspiring phenomenon which Meghan matches with her own spectacular torrents of schmaltz. She takes to Disney-narration like an anthropomorphic duck to water. “For elephants, family is everything! In this tight-knit group, someone always has your back!”
The Times of London was quick to point to her lack of depth, with critic Ed Potton giving Markle a two-star rating.
He said Meghan is “swapping pomp and circumstance for schmaltz and cheesiness,” adding: ‘The departing Duchess of Sussex narrates Disney’s tale of a herd of elephants crossing the Kalahari Desert from the Okavango delta to the Zambezi River, and boy does she lay it on thick.”
Potton observed how her “silken tones” employed on the legal drama Suits which were “often muzzled during her time as a full-time royal’” are now “given free rein.”
He did concede she has an “actor’s way” with a phrase and a “likeable sense of mischief” but that is barely enough to cover a performance he called “overegged.”
Owen Glieberamna of Variety magazine said: “Meghan Markle does an inviting version of the wholesome but amused Disney narrator singsong as she delivers lines like, ‘Shani has already lost track of Jomo. There he is!’
“It feels like an hour-long safari that’s been padded out to 85 minutes.”
Ian Freer of film mag Empire said: “Markle’s delivery of the commentary is wholesome and over-eager to please (“It’s time for a pool party!” “Wait a minute! Who’s this guy?” “Oh, look who’s cut in front of the line? Oh, Jomo!”)… but just about stays the right side of annoying.
“A fun diversion for the kids, but you feel Attenborough could have packaged these often beautifully produced images with more rigour and insight in under an hour.”
The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw joked Meghan’s schmaltz is almost as spectacular as the sight of the elephants rumbling through the wilds of Africa.
He said: “It is an awe-inspiring phenomenon which Meghan matches with her own spectacular torrents of schmaltz.
“‘For elephants, family is everything! In this tight-knit group, someone always has your back!’ and ‘Meet Jomo!’ coos Meghan.
“Again and again, Meghan is given outrageously unverifiable things to say, such as: ‘Gaia remembers these birds leading her mother to the water…’. And Shani later supposedly ‘looks back on all the lessons she learned from Gaia’.
“You expect that this film, like an episode of The Office or Parks and Recreation, is suddenly going to include a shot of Gaia telling an off-camera interviewer: ‘Mmm, yeah, I totally remember my mom being led by those birds over to this water…’.
“A bit of a sugary taste.”