Directed by: Paul J. Bolger
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Andy Dick, George Carlin
Computers have given us many modern day conveniences -- from the Internet to calculator watches -- for which I for one am pleased. But technology has also given us one nuisance that we may never rid ourselves of: the unbearably horrible animated movie. Sure, computer animation is cheaper and faster and, in some cases, better looking than traditional animation (though that's certainly a matter of taste and opinion). However, this also means that a lot of bad movies are green-lighted because they can be produced for so little money, and every once in awhile, one of them will catch on and turn a quick profit. Traditional animation (just trying to remember when people would draw things with pencils is liable to make you feel prehistoric) has seemingly gone the way of the dodo or Bronson Pinchot's career.
If you want a perfect example of the sad state of animated films, I give you Exhibit A: Happily N'Ever After. It has everything from voice talent being cast for no other reason than their "big names," instead of whether or not they suit the role (could someone please tell me the last time Freddie Prinze Jr. was relevant?), to the sub-sitcom jokes to the generic visuals. It's not that the animation is necessarily bad, but rather the whole look of the movie is so nonspecific -- not to mention that the character models look like the kind of stuff Disney was putting out in the mid '90s.
The plot itself is more or less a retelling of the Cinderella story, except it takes place in Fairy Tale Land, a world where every fairy tale happens over and over, apparently for eternity -- and for no other reason than it serves the machinations of the plot. The entire process is overseen by a wizard (George Carlin), who makes sure all the stories conclude in their traditional fashion. When the wizard goes on vacation, Cinderella's evil stepmother (Sigourney Weaver) takes control in an attempt to stop all the happy endings. This, in theory, is supposed to lead to all types of cheeky, postmodern meta-humor, but instead it goes absolutely nowhere. If you think you've heard this before, you have, back in 2001 with Shrek. Heck, Rocky and Bullwinkle were doing Fractured Fairy Tales over 40 years ago. The worst thing might be that one can't shake the feeling that the makers of Happily N'Ever After seemingly believe they really are that clever.
And even with all this against it, the movie might have actually worked to a limited extent if it were actually funny or cute or anything. But it isn't. It's really nothing other than just plain dull, which is one thing a children's movie should never be. If you're thinking of seeing this movie, please heed the film's tagline, "The Future Looks Grimm." Dear Lord, does it ever. Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor.
— reviewed by Justin Souther