HAPPILY N'EVER AFTER
© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
Ella (voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar) is confronted
by her wicked stepmother Freida (Sigourney
Weaver) in
HAPPILY N'EVER AFTER

© 2007 Lionsgate Films

Perhaps one of the most enduring of all
the fairy tales is
CINDERELLA. This classic story
of a poor young girl who manages to catch the
attention of a prince has been the source of
countless motion pictures, from out and out
adaptations including the Disney animated
version,
THE GLASS SLIPPER, EVER AFTER,
ELLA ENCHANTED, to name but a few. So the
idea of possibly turning the story on its head
sounded appealing.

And indeed, there's a germ of great idea in the
animated movie
HAPPILY N'EVER AFTER,
but unfortunately it is not fully realized. The
screenplay is credited to Ivy League grad Rob
Moreland. His premise is that all the fairy tales
that we've come to know and love are watched
over by a sort of guardian wizard (voiced by
George Carlin). Along with his two assistants,
the pig-like Munk (Wallace Shawn) and the
cat-like Mambo (Andy Dick), he maintains the
balance on the scales of good and evil, so that
each story turns out just as expected.

For no real reason, the movie starts after Ella's
wicked stepmother Freida (Sigourney Weaver) has
taken power and the narrator Rick (Freddie Prinze
Jr.), a servant of the Prince (Patrick Warburton)
fills us in on how things
got so out of hand. It seems that instead of
the story proceeding normally, the Wizard
went on vacation leaving Munk and Mambo in
charge. Freida managed to find them and steal
away the wizard's staff, thus giving her the
power to alter the stories, from letting the wolf
eat Little Red Riding Hood to stopping Ella
(Sarah Michelle Gellar) from marrying the Prince,
and so on.

Ella is convinced the Prince can save the
day and she tries to enlist Rick's aid. (What she
cannot see, though, is that Rick is in love with
her.) He pushes her away and she sets off on her
own, encountering Munk and Mambo. Rick later
has second thoughts after he overhears Freida's
plans and sets out to locate the Prince and/or
save the day on his own. Of course, despite the
title, things do end up nicely.

The CGI animation is third-rate and
unimaginative. The screenplay isn't nearly as
funny as it thinks it is (although there are a
couple of amusing lines, mostly delivered by
either Dick or Shawn). In short,
HAPPILY
N'EVER AFTER
is a disappointment. It's trying
to put a new spin on an old tale but in the
wake of
SHREK and other films, it doesn't work.
Parents would do well to skip this one.


Rating:            D+
MPAA Rating:   PG for some mild action
                     and rude humor
Running time:   85 mins.


Viewed at Magno Review One