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Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Gellar - "Happily N’Ever After" Movie - Nj.com Review

Stephen Whitty

Saturday 6 January 2007, by Webmaster

Never say ’N’ever,’ but this Cinderella story is a pumpkin

(PG) Lionsgate (87 min.)

Directed by Paul J. Bolger. With the voices of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sigourney Weaver, Freddie Prinze Jr. Now playing in theaters throughout New Jersey.

Remember that cartoon, "Hoodwinked," that the Weinstein Company put out last January? The unfunny, trying-to-be-hip fairytale one, with the ugly CGI animation, and a few bad songs, and Andy Dick and Patrick Warburton doing some of the voices? You do?


Lionsgate was sort of hoping you wouldn’t. Because, almost exactly one year later, they have "Happily N’ever After," their unfunny, trying-to-be-hip fairytale, with ugly CGI animation, a few bad songs, and Andy Dick and Patrick Warburton doing some of voices.

And it’s even worse.

One of the endless not-so-Grimm fables spawned by "Shrek," "Happily N’ever After" — the apostrophe is as superfluous as the film — is a clumsy takeoff on "Cinderella." Sarah Michelle Gellar provides the voice of the pretty little drudge; Freddie Prinze Jr. does the honors for the dishwasher who loves her from afar.

Hey, at least it kept them too busy to make another "Scooby Doo" movie.

The real twist in the story — and only fun in the film — comes courtesy of the Wicked Stepmother, drawn like an hourglass in an evening gown and brought to snarling life by Sigourney Weaver. She’s found a way to change the ending, it seems — and wants a fairy tale that concludes with her in charge of everyone.

This is pretty thin stuff to begin with, and it’s not particularly helped by a cast of overused character voices (Warburton’s pleased-with-himself chortling, Wallace Shawn’s nasal exasperation). The animation, apart from Weaver’s got-it-going-on stepmom, isn’t particularly inventive, and the music is forgettable.

That might not all be the filmmakers’ fault. "Happily N’ever After," which only starts after five separate studio logos, is a German film whose U.S. titles include new credits for "additional directing," "additional writing" and "additional music." Perhaps all the additions only ruined this. Perhaps back in Berlin, this was actually a good little movie. Perhaps one day we’ll even rediscover how good, in a retrospective or special DVD.

Well — perhaps not. But even critics like a good fairy tale now and then.

Rating note: The film contains mild violence.