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Happily N'Ever After (DVD Review)

29 Apr, 2007 By: John Latchem

Street 5/1/07
Box Office $15.6 million
$28.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG' for some mild action and rude humor.
Voices of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Andy Dick, Wallace Shawn, Patrick Warburton, George Carlin, Sigourney Weaver.

Fairy-tale destiny is fine for heroes and princesses, but what about the villains who are always doomed to fail? Happily N'Ever After has fun tweaking these concepts of good and evil, right down to a DVD menu that lets the viewer choose sides.

The film is a passable if confused reworking of the idea that most fairy tales we know today have drifted drastically from their original endings.

In Fairy Tale Land, A wizard (Carlin) watches over the inhabitants to ensure everyone gets their fairy-tale ending, which is possible only if the literal scales between good and evil are in perfect balance. When Cinderella's stepmother (Weaver) learns of this, she manipulates the scales toward evil, causing chaos to erupt.

This prevents Ella (Gellar) from marrying the prince (Warburton), but opens the door for Rick (Prinze), a servant who has harbored a crush on Ella for years (a touch of The Princess Bride).

What's interesting is tipping the scale to evil doesn't imbue the baddies with more power or anything, it just gives them what appears to be free will. Imagine if the scale had been tipped to the good side.

These unintended ruminations on metaphysics are likely more the result of a lazy script than anything the filmmakers were seriously pondering, judging by their DVD interviews and commentary.

Most viewers won't care about any of that. Kids might enjoy the bright colors, storybook settings and the wizard's animal assistants, Munk (Shawn) and Mambo (Dick). Older fans may find the jokes tepid and the CG-animation lacking in polish. It would be all-too-easy to dismiss this film as a rip-off of Shrek, which was ingrained with edgier humor adults could enjoy.

The plot itself is vaguely similar to Disney's direct-to-video sequel Cinderella III, released earlier this year. In fact, Happily N'Ever After would likely have been hand-drawn to ape the Disney style had Shrek not come along.

Happily N'Ever After has a producer in common with the “Shrek” series, and this DVD release is well timed to take advantage of the May 18 theatrical release of Shrek the Third.

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