Any student at U.Va. has surely wondered about the secret societies the University has supposedly fostered since its founding in 1819. The new movie “Secret Society of Second-Born Royals” fulfills this postulation with a glimpse into a fictional society composed of, as the name implies, the second born children of royal families. With its debut on Disney+ Sept. 25, the movie is one of the first to premiere exclusively on the relatively young streaming service after its launch in November 2019, and it does so with a bang — teaching children and teenagers alike values about appreciating both oneself and others.
Starring Peyton Elizabeth Lee — known best for her titular role on Disney’s “Andi Mack” — as Sam, she and the young ensemble cast play a variety of misfit teenagers who envy their seemingly non-important roles in their families and countries and rebel against what is usually considered the norm. After they end up in summer school together, the group — Sam, Tuma, January, Roxana and Matteo — are stunned to learn from their instructor, Professor James Morrow — portrayed by Skylar Astin of the “Pitch Perfect” movie franchise — that “summer school” isn’t what they think it is. Instead, they are there to be trained to join the Secret Society of Second-Born Royals. The surprises of the film don’t stop there as the group soon learns that they each have a unique superpower which will help them to protect the world and serve the monarchs of each of their families’ land. The group is put to the test when they must face off against the infamous Inmate 34 — who turns out to be Sam’s uncle — and traitor January. As in any Disney movie advertised towards children, the group — who now hold an unbreakable bond with each other — save the world. In addition, they also save Sam’s older sister, who is the new queen of fictional Illyria, from tyranny and death.
This movie is notably one of the first of its kind for Disney on the virtually untouched subject of secret societies, and it teaches viewers a few valuable lessons. The first is, put colloquially, to never judge a book by its cover. In the film, the five “superheros” meet and instantly feud with each other. However, after discovering their superpowers and honing in on them, the group bonds excellently with each other and becomes a true group of allies and friends, with the exemption of the aforementioned traitor. The film also relates the idea that you should never take your family for granted. At first, Sam not only envys but avoids her older sister and mother — her father was killed prior to the movie’s timeline. Nevertheless, as the movie goes on, Sam realises that she has been making a mistake giving up on people who genuinely care about her. Similarly, “The Society of Second-Born Royals” emphasizes the importance of never underestimating oneself. The underlying meaning behind the events show us that we shouldn’t underestimate our true potential and that everyone has their own “superpower,” even if it’s not as nifty as the second-borns’.
Filmed last summer in a pre-COVID-19 world, this may be one of Disney+’s only original releases for the rest of 2020 and, sadly, possibly years to come. Regardless of what the future may hold for the film and television industries, this movie was a new feat for Disney which invokes feelings of gratification and curiosity to learn more, resulting in a film which viewers will be delighted to watch and rewatch over and over again.