Happily N'Ever After Starts Off 2007 As Another Mediocre Animation
by Alex Billington
January 6, 2007
The first animated film of 2007, Happily N'Ever After, presents a post-modern twist on the world of fairy tales -- a premise evocative of Shrek, but with an execution that applies more directly to the present day. The story is a bit troublesome, but kids will certainly enjoy this film.
A wise old wizard (George Carlin) in a land of fairy tales decides to take a vacation and leaves his two mischievous creature servants Mambo (Andy Dick) and Munk (Wallace Shawn, the "Inconceivable!" guy from The Princess Bride) to maintain the balance of good and evil in the universe. The story of Cinderella (Sarah Michelle Gellar), and every other fairy tale, happens constantly, but the narrator and dishwasher Rick (Freddie Prinze Jr.) decides to win Cinderella's heart instead of letting the brainless jock Prince Humperdink (Patrick Warburton) provide the traditional ending. After the evil stepmother Frieda (Sigourney Weaver) discovers the golden scale that literally balances good and evil, she quickly battles off Mambo and Munk and tips the scales to be evil in order to maintain her domination. On top of the aforementioned individuals, the film also features a completely bumbling battalion of characters small and large, in both size and roles.
Happily N'Ever After is such a modern, new take that fits into our current culture that they even got rid of the "old and outdated" name of Cinderella and nicknamed her just "Ella." The film's pacing is fair, not as fast as the terrible Flushed Away from last year yet not as perfectly structured as a Pixar animation. The extravagantly fantastical plot is often overly magical and too exaggerated for even a children's fairy tale. It's so unoriginal and unappealing that of course everything is righted by the time the wizard returns, and that's just the start of the ridiculous additions that filled the storyline.
With yet again your typical run-of-the-mill animation, Happily N'Ever After seems like another uninspired animated film, however it does have a few positive aspects: great voice actor choices and performances, something I rarely notice but thought actually helped what little there was to offer. For fans of the late Hanna and Barbera's animations, the slapstick comedy and "cartoon physics" will remind us of the animation of yesteryear.
Although not the strongest animation to start off the year, Happily N'Ever After does deliver a slice of entertainment worth seeing if you have an interest in twisted post-modern takes on fairy tales. Full of some appropriate PG one-liners, but a bit skimpy on its plot, Happily N'Ever After is an average January film.