Genre: CG Animation
Director: Paul J. Bolger
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sigourney Weaver,
Freddie Prinze Jr., George Carlin, Wallace Shawn, Andy Dick
RunTime: 1 hr 27 mins
Released By: Shaw
Official Website: HappilyNEverAfterthefilm.com
Opening Day: 8 March 2007
Inspired by the most beloved of fables, "Happily N'Ever
After" is an animated satirical retelling of the classic
story of Cinderella.
upon a time in Fairy Tale Land, the age-old balance between
good and evil has been thrown out of whack. Frieda, Cinderella's
power-mad stepmother, has formed an unholy alliance of evil
to take on the good guys. With her own fairy tale spinning
wildly out of control, Cinderella (a/k/a Ella) is forced to
shed her damsel-in-distress trappings in order to seize control
of her own destiny and lead the resistance without her Prince
a world of happy endings gone wrong, the race for control
of the kingdom is on, with the fate of the venerable storyline
'Happily N'Ever After' hanging in the balance.
Lions Gate Films, armed with the team that produced Shrek
and Shrek 2, embarked on a hip, contemporary retelling of
fairy tale land. Essentially very familiar territory, all
experience and expertise they had seemed to have gone right
out of the window. In one word, Happily N’Ever After
was torrid. Unhappily torrid. Caustic, annoyingly “smart-alecky”
and full of cynical jokes poking fun at various fairy tale
characters, Happily N’Ever After felt like a hotchpotch
collection of forgettable punchlines by a creative team that
mistakenly assumed that just because Shrek was funny, everything
else they produce will probably be funny.
When an animation film begins with references like the Department
of Fairy Tale Land Security and a barb about the nation of
Canada, you know children below the age of 10 aren’t
likely to be enjoying this film. Maybe Lions Gate Films should
rate their films NFK – Not For Kids. Maybe they should
rate it NF – Not Funny. It’s not the production
team’s fault however that they had set such a high benchmark
The story is about Cinderella and her evil stepmother’s
plans to usurp power in the kingdom of fairy tales. Sort of.
The convolutedly written retelling loses attention from about
the first minute, when it begins with the now stale hip, irreverent
narrator introduction. In this satirical portrayal of the
Cinderella story, we get introduced to an old wizard who watches
fairy tales with a scale of good an evil, with happy endings
dependent on the equilibrium of the scales. You must be raising
your brows by now. I did too. Most of the plot developments
turn out so contrived it seemed only to serve the purpose
of fitting the ill-conceived humour and jokes into the movie.
A crackpot stepmother aside (who proved to be more cranky
than intelligently scheming), we see many caricatured portrayals,
like that of the Prince as a broad-chested, hair-brained blond
jock. The film’s humour is devoid of subtlety, wit or
any element of scripting quality. Half the time, the characters
ramble on and on with lengthy, overly complicated jokes that
leave the audience unamused more than anything else. In one
scene, the Prince reads off a script and calls romantic Roman,
Tic. He repeats it before understanding his mistake. So we’re
suppose to think he’s a brainless beefcake? Very funny.
The whole goes on in the same vein of a self-absorbed, clumsy
film stuffed with crap-tacular jokes and gags put out by he
characters and the narrator.
Happily N’Ever After should never have gone into production
not to mention when you have voice ‘talents” like
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddy Prinze Jr. Maybe that was
some foreboding but the only bright sport was perhaps Sigourney
Weaver, who stretches her voice-over talent so well you’d
feel she was totally underused in the Alien franchise. She
voices the hysterical and cranky Frieda, Cinderella’s
stepmother, with much emotional and vocal dexterity, only
to be let down by a deplorable script.
Many production studios reach a point where their introduction
pitch becomes a creaking crutch that exposes the inadequacy
of their latest product (From the producers of Die Hard…
From the producers of Speed… anyone?) It’s impossible
not to love Shrek and, to a lesser degree, perhaps Shrek 2.
But it pains one to imagine how Happily N’Ever’s
production team has gone the way of big budget action film
production house failures where past reputation no longer
guarantees a good upcoming product. Maybe Dreamworks might
have aced this film, we wouldn’t know, but this anglo-germanic
Lions Gate production horribly fell short of expectations.
don’t want to be rolling my eyes in distrust the next
time I hear “From the producers of Shrek and Shrek 2”,
because that is some good reputation and foundation. But when
Happily N’Ever After seemed so much like a collection
of insider jokes and adult ramblings by the production team
happy to indulge in their own hilarity, it’s hard not
to. Disney’s Valiant was similarly laboriously unfunny,
but at least that film was earnest, likeable (without the
adult sarcasm and caustic humour) and most importantly, suitable
for the kids.
times in school when a seemingly hilarious joke with your
best pals turn absurdly flat no matter how you best you retell
it to anyone else? Happily N’Ever After is a tiresome,
draggy film that’s absolutely full of them.
( Happily Never After. The End. *phew, finally*)
Review by Daniel Lim