Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
|Featuring||Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr, Sigourney Weaver, George Carlin, Andy Dick|
|Producer||Rainer Soehnlein, Ralph Kamp, Louise Goodsill|
|Distributor||Lions Gate Films|
“The future looks Grimm”
January is the month when Hollywood releases the movies it does not expect to be smash hits. However, every now and again there are some gems that appear. Last year, it was “Hoodwinked,” which turned out to be one of the better animated films of 2006. This year, “Happily N’Ever After” hopes to be that January gem.
The plot involves the now cliche fractured fairytale. In this go around, the wicked step mother of Cinderella steals a magic wand that insures all the fairytales have a happy ending. Naturally, she uses the wand to insure that there will be no more happy ending (hence, “Happily Never After”). Our heroes include a warthog, a …well, thing, Cinderella herself (voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar), and a simple cook who is in love with Cinderella. Together they must stop the wicked step mother, but can the cook convince Cinderella that he is her hero and not Prince Charming?
The film is billed as being from one of the producers of “Shrek,” but it more reminiscent of last year’s “Hoodwinked.” This is true on several levels. Even the voices are reminiscent. Like “Hoodwinked,” “Happily N’Ever After” features the voices of NPatrick Warburton, Andy Dick, and Wallace Shawn. Both are fractured fairytales. And both pick up steam as the story goes along. In fact, “Happily N’Ever After” starts out at a crawl. Still, once the Wicked Step Mother (voiced by Sigourney Weaver) steals the magic wand, things pick up. Soon Rumplestilskin, the Giant from Jack’s beanstalk, the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, and many other evil characters start to take over Fairyland.
Morally, the film is similar to “Shrek.” There is some potty humor, but not as much as some in the genre. We are told that someone “pees” in drinking glasses, someone’s “butt” is compared to a shopping mall, there is the obligatory passing of gas, a diaper filled joke, and a character fills his hat by blowing his nose.
Another subject which parents may want to use as a subject of discussion after the film is whether or not the theme of the movie is “self-empowerment.” This teaching, ever so popular today, can easily pass into the realm of not trusting in God. The characters do not seek God’s will, but are told to “go for” whatever they desire.
Our hero, the cook, is sometimes not a very heroic, or even likable, character. He seems selfish and uncaring. He only desires Cinderella, and one wonders if he would ever have saved the kingdom had Cinderella married Prince Charming. This is, therefore, a chance for parents to discuss the subject of faith and trust with their child. Our wishes are not always God’s. If we seek “self-empowerment,” then it is not God’s will we pursue with all our strength, but our own. This can actually be self-defeating and harmful, if we do not seek God’s counsel.
What of the movie on a cinematic level? When I read that my local movie critic gave the movie an “F,” I knew that “Happily N’Ever After” was bound to be worth watching. Admittedly, the movie is not on the level of last year’s “Hoodwinked” or the “Shrek” movies, but it is an interesting and fun diversion for an hour and a half. “Happily N’Ever After” is a fairly good, fractured fairytale worth a look.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None