Happily N’Ever After

Cast:
Freddie Prinze Jr. as Rick (voice)
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Ella (voice)
Patrick Warburton as Prince Humperdink (voice)
Sigourney Weaver as Frieda (voice)
George Carlin as The Wizard (voice)
Andy Dick as Mambo (voice)
Lisa Kaplan as Fairy Godmother (voice)
Michael McShane as Rumplestiltskin (voice)
Wallace Shawn as Munk (voice)

Summary:
Despite a standout performance by Sigourney Weaver, “Happily N’Ever After” is a dull fairytale parody that pales in comparison to “Shrek.” Still, kids will enjoy it.

Story:
In the land of fairy tales, it’s business as usual. Red Riding Hood defeats the wolf. The Seven Dwarves save Snow White. Rapunzel lets down her hair. And unfortunately for lowly dishwasher Rick, Ella still falls in love with the Prince and ignores him.

However, all that changes when Frieda, the Wicked Stepmother, obtains the magical staff of a wizard who makes sure all these stories have happy endings. She turns the stories on their heads and makes sure the bad guys win in the end. Amidst this chaos, Rick finds that the fairytale romance between Ella and the Prince is broken up, too. Will he use the chaos for his own gain or help restore order to the kingdom?

“Happily N’Ever After” is rated PG for some mild action and rude humor.

What Worked:
The thing that surprised me most about “Happily N’Ever After” was the fact that Sigourney Weaver was a great voice actress. Besides a guest appearance on “Futurama,” this is the only voice acting I’ve seen on her filmography. I’d certainly like to hear her in more animated features. She did a fantastic job bringing Frieda to life and giving energy to the character. Everyone else seemed quite flat in comparison. The only other cast members who come close to matching her energy are Wallace Shawn as Munk and Andy Dick as Mambo. (I find Andy Dick intensely annoying, but he ended up being one of the few high points in this movie.)

“Happily N’Ever After” also brings a couple of new things to the fairy tale parody genre. The Seven Dwarves are portrayed as redneck survivalists. Their no nonsense attitude comes out of nowhere and actually brings some much needed energy to the story. Rumplestiltskin is also effectively parodied. The story of a baby kidnapping villain is such a bizarre thing and ripe for making fun of. This film certainly takes advantage of that.

What Didn’t Work:
Unfortunately, “Happily N’Ever After” doesn’t have much else going for it. The animation isn’t very impressive and the character designs don’t stand out. The story has very few laughs and is frequently repetitive. (How many times do we need to see angst-filled Rick and Ella brooding?) The voice cast is also quite flat. As much as I like Patrick Warburton, if I hear him playing another muscle bound dope, I’ll go crazy. A child sitting next to me actually said, “It’s Kronk!” when they heard him. And if you’re expecting a lot from George Carlin in this movie, you’ll be disappointed. He’s barely in it.

“Happily N’Ever After” ends up being a good idea that just doesn’t pan out. The basic concept of flipping fairy tales around is good, but the way it is executed here makes it dull. Leave the fairy tale movies to “Shrek.”

The Bottom Line:
Despite all my problems with this movie, my 7-year-old daughter enjoyed it. So you can expect “Happily N’Ever After” to entertain the kiddies, but adults will probably be bored by it.

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