|Happily N'Ever After (2007)
Michelle Gellar, Sigourney Weaver, Freddie Prinze Jr., George
Carlin, Wallace Shawn, Andy Dick
Director: Paul J. Bolger
First, a quick chat about movie etiquette.
It is not enough that your cell phone is on vibrate. It should be off, period. No one is so important that their phone must be on at all times. If you must be reachable at all times, you shouldn’t go to movies. Seems simple enough, right? I thought so, at any rate. The woman in front of me, however, decided to spend the entire movie sending text messages. Her screen was very bright, and it distracted all five of the people I was with. Had she not been there with her children (way to set a good example, lady), I would have been very tempted to take her phone and throw it across the room. So please, people, get over yourselves: shut off your damn phone.
And now, your feature presentation.
“Happily N’Ever After” is shockingly unfunny, and I know a thing or two about unfunny, having seen “Code Name: The Cleaner” the night before. Incredibly, “Happily” is even less funny than “The Cleaner,” not to mention the worst animated movie to come down the pipe in years, if not decades. The animation is atrocious, the voice direction is laughable, and the pacing is so unnaturally slow that it’s hard to believe human hands ever touched this movie. Never in your life have 75 minutes – 75 minutes – passed by so turgidly.
The movie takes place in Fairytale Land (even the narrator admits the name isn’t terribly original. Then why not come up with a better one?), where a wizard (George Carlin) keeps a watch on the balance between good and evil in the land – both sides are conveniently represented by a scale – so everyone’s story gets a happy ending. The wizard goes on vacation, leaving his assistants Munk and Mambo (Wallace Shawn and Andy Dick, respectively) in charge. Problems arise when Cinderella’s wicked stepmother Frieda (Sigourney Weaver) has no tolerance just being the stepmother while Ella (Sarah Michelle Gellar), as she’s called here, marries the handsome but clueless Prince Humperdink (Patrick Warburton). She stages a coup, steals the wizard’s magic staff, and unites the evildoers (the Big Bad Wolf, trolls, Rumplestiltskin, etc.) against the “winners.” The prince, who does not recognize Ella after Frieda tips the scales and ruins her happy ending, runs off looking for his maiden, and Ella decides to track him down in order to restore order. Besides Munk and Mambo, her only ally is the reluctant Rick (Freddie Prinze Jr.), an assistant to the prince who has a mad crush on Ella.
The movie’s jokes aren’t bad in a lazy, “Shrek”-like let’s-go-for-the-easy-and-obvious-joke way, they’re just…bad. After Rumplestiltskin’s baby – yep, he gets the baby after the scales are tipped – farts loudly (oh, don’t act so surprised to learn the movie has bathroom “humor”), and Frieda says, “Will you feed that baby already?,” he replies, “But then he’ll be up all night.” That was the best punch line they could come up with, people, and if the writing is bad, the animation is worse. There is a montage that features Rick walking like no human has ever walked this earth, and the lip movements are so out of sync with the dialogue that the movie looks as if it has been dubbed into English from a foreign language. To discuss the performances themselves, outside of saying that they’re both broad and flat, would be a waste of time.If you need to know only one thing about the ineptitude of “Happily N’Ever After,” it is the scene where Ella, in an attempt to escape the broom-riding Frieda, leaves the cover of tall trees to run down a wide open clearing to a barren cliff, where Frieda corners and kidnaps her. Ella had to be kidnapped for the sake of the plot, you see, and this was the most realistic scenario the filmmakers could come up with to accomplish the task. Ye gods.