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Happily N'Ever After
Review written on: January 7th, 2007

Happily N'Ever After Review

Here comes another film that puts a new, modern spread on fairy tales. The same idea that propelled Shrek to its well-loved status falls short.

Fairy Tale Land is a magical kingdom where the residents are made up of characters from all the stories we know and love.

The sequence of life events is controlled by a wise wizard (voiced by George Carlin), through a special scale, a magical staff, and a big orb which serves as a viewer for the goings-on of the land. As long as the balance between good and evil is intact, the characters’ lives run their respective course, by the book. Mess with the balance, you mess with their fate.

After the Wizard goes on vacation to Scotland, he leaves things in charge of his two bumbling, yet devoted assistants, Munk (voiced by Wallace Shawn) and Mambo (voiced by Andy Dick). While Munk is straitlaced and wishes to keep order, Mambo is obviously the troublemaker. They are obviously the comic relief of the film.

Cinderella’s rags to riches story is the central theme. Called Ella (voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar), she is the maiden that had the wicked stepmother, the wicked stepsisters, blah blah blah…She wants to go the ball to meet the Prince (voiced by Patrick Warburton), blah blah blah.
You know how it goes.

She has an admirer though. Rick (voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr.) is a servant in the Prince’s palace, and has a deep, unrequited love for Ella. The two of them are friends, but her desire for her “destiny” is unsettling for Rick, who finds the prince to be pretentious. Ella’s infatuation with the prince is part of her and since she’s destined to fall in love with him and marry him, she has to pursue him.

Who is the person that stands in the way of Ella’s happiness? Her stepmother, Frieda (voiced by Sigourney Weaver): a feisty, seductive woman who is immensely power-hungry. She openly dislikes Ella and wants to make trouble for her for her own amusement, and get her piece of the pie. She finds out about how life is controlled in Fairy Tale Land and decides to take it over. She outwits Mambo and Munk, gets her hands on the staff, and shifts the balance of the scales. Then the big job comes in. She brings out all of the villains from the fairytales to do her bidding.

In the meantime, Ella is convinced that the only person who could save the day is her beloved prince. The dimwitted prince, though, is looking for the maiden he lost at the ball the night before. It’s now a race for Ella to track down the prince, while Rick tries his hardest to become the hero in reality and in Ella’s heart.

Obviously, the comparison to Shrek will be made, and this film doesn’t hold a candle to it. While it had its share of jokes and witty banter (how many different ways can you get someone’s name wrong?), I got bored a few times. There really was a void in plot and character that didn’t hold my attention too much. I thought Geller’s performance was pretty flat. Ella was portrayed as average and meek, without the majesty the Cinderella character has been known for. Weaver hams it up and vamps it up as Frieda, but after a while, it lacked pizzazz. Warburton’s Prince fits the mold of someone who’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, and Prinze’s Rick was pretty forgettable. Kids will get a kick of this movie, but it’s not really anything to write home about.

 

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