The reviews for Meghan Markle’s first post-royal role — narrating the Disney documentary, Elephant — are in and it’s a mixed bag of praise and pretty harsh criticism.
The departing Duchess was last week announced as the voice of the 90-minute Disneynature film which follows a family of elephants as they journey across Africa’s Kalahari Desert.
While the doco begins streaming on Disney+ on April 3 — just two days after Meghan and her husband Prince Harry formally sever ties with The Firm — several publications have been given a sneak peek.
Meghan’s Elephant narration ‘cheesy’ but ‘warm’
The Express in the UK deemed Elephant ‘warm family fun’ but notes that it’s ‘a little cheesy’ at times, awarding it a solid four stars.
“Meghan comes across very warmly, with most of her lines sounding like she’s beaming fondly at the elephants we’re watching,” the review read.
“At times this can be a bit cheesy and sentimental in a classic American Disney kind of way.”
On the other hand, The Times gave Elephant just two stars, saying that the former Suits star’s narration ‘lays it on thick’.
“On the evidence of this feature documentary Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is swapping pomp and circumstance for schmaltz and cheesiness,” was the review.
IndieWire was slightly more complimentary, giving the ‘vibrantly narrated’ film a B+ while warning viewers of Meghan’s ‘forceful’ voicework at the start of the feature.
“While Meghan’s voiceover work opens the film a bit too forcefully (she mostly seems really excited to be there), she settles into an amiable, intelligent pattern soon enough, bridging the gap between entertainment and education,” they wrote.
How she landed the role
Prince Harry raised eyebrows last July when he appeared to make not one but two pitches to secure his wife work at the red carpet premiere of Disney’s Lion King.
Video from the red carpet shows Harry touting Meghan’s voiceover skills to Disney boss Bob Iger while she chatted to Jay-Z and Beyonce.
In a second clip, Harry is heard telling Lion King director Jon Favreau: “Next time, if anyone needs any extra voiceover work, we can make ourselves available.”
“That’s really why we’re here — to pitch,” Meghan reportedly joked.
According to Press Association, however, it was Meghan who was approached by Elephant’s filmmakers last northern summer, not the other way around.
In January this year, it was reported by The Times that Meghan had signed a deal with Disney for the voiceover in exchange for a donation to the charity, Elephants Without Borders.
Sussexes’ sign off
After returning to the UK on a whirlwind ‘farewell tour’ of final public engagements earlier this month, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex officially stepped back as senior royals on March 31.
The pair are believed to have shut down their Instagram account, @SussexRoyal, in line with the Queen’s order to no longer use the word ‘royal’.
In their supposed final post, Harry and Meghan signed off with their first names, having previously ended statements with their titles, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The family of three is believed to have left their Canadian home in late March to settle in Los Angeles, California, in order to focus on their health and wellbeing amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Harry and Meghan reportedly made the most of their last days as senior royals by laying the groundwork for a not-for-profit global organisation based in North America, but full details and the launch date have yet to be revealed.
A source said: “They’re busy working as they always have been.”
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