January 7, 2007

Movie Review: Happily N'Ever After

One thing became abundantly clear the further I got into watching Happily N'Ever After. It was apparent that the title wasn't just a clever title. It was indicative of the lack of fun that it contained. I went in hoping that it would be along the lines of last years Hoodwinked, which was very enjoyable. This one just plodded along, never catching stride and rehashing jokes that have been done before. A shame, really, I wanted to like it, sadly the energy was as leaden as the story turned out to be.

The story has the Wicked Stepmother (Sigourney Weaver), of Cinderella fame, band together all of the villains of Fairytale Land to put an end to the cycle of happy endings that plagues all of the tales. Fighting on the side of good is Cinderella, better known here as Ella (Sarah Michelle Gellar). She has the twofold adventure of trying to meet the man of her dreams, the dumber than a bag of hammers Prince Charming (the brilliant Patrick Warburton), while also putting a stop to her Stepmother's plot. Along the way she teams with other fairytale characters, most notable the Seven Dwarves.

The crux of the story lies in a tower, high above the Prince's castle. Inside the tower is a scale balancing good and evil, along with a remote controlled crystal ball which allows the viewer to keep an eye on the various fairytale characters and ensure that their stories all build to the proprer happy ending climax. Keeping watch over these items are the Wizard (George Carlin) and his assistants Munk (Wallace Shawn) and Mambo (Andy Dick). Of course, things go wrong while the wizard is away, things which allow the Wicked Stepmother to gain control of the magical items.

The movie is framed by narration which breaks the fourth wall by addressing the audience, and is filled with self referential humor. The narration is done by Rick (Freddie Prinze Jr.), the Prince's dishwasher and servant who not so secretly pines for Ella. This framework does not work well here. It is tired, dull, and terribly unfunny. On top of that, Rick's character does not have much to do through the film. It also further muddies the story. Who is this about? Is it Munk and Mambo's desire to right there mistake? Is Ella's attempts to marry the meathead the central story? Is the takeover of the kingdom by the Wicked Stepmother most important? Perhaps it is Rick's desire to convince Ella of her misguided desire for the hunk Prince.

Happily N'Ever After is such a disappointment. I think the base concept is interesting and seems ripe for an fun movie. Sadly, the gags are the same tired takes on the fractured fairy tale that we have seen before. It lacks the energy and creativity of Shrek and Hoodwinked, two movies that show what a high and low budget revisionist fairy tales movie can be when injected with energy and wit.

The only positive to be gleaned is Patrick Warburton's brilliantly droll performance. He is perfect for these types of roles, just check out his voice work in Hoodwinked, The Emperor's New Groove, and Family Guy. The rest of the voice performers seem to have just shown up for a paycheck, they lack any resemblance of life. It is almost like they went into the booth, read through their lines in about five minutes and left.

Bottomline. What a disappointment. From the ill advised opening flashback to the dull narration, to the sad misuse of the characters, this is a film that would best be left alone. Again, the concept is sound, but the execution is leaden and lacking in humor and interest. You would best be served waiting for Shrek the Third.

Not Recommended.


Anonymous said...

Worst 3D animated movie I've seen so far... Poor storyline, bad script, unlovable characters (most of them), boring movie.

Post a Comment