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Sarah Michelle Gellar

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

Betsy Pickle

Sunday 14 January 2007, by Webmaster

A somewhat fractured fairy tale

"Happily N’Ever After" is the perfect movie for those who need a "Shrek" rip-off to tide them over till "Shrek the Third" arrives in May.

It doesn’t come close to the cleverness of "Shrek," but kids will like it, and it will remind "Shrek" fans of what was good about the original cranky green giant.

Viewers who appreciate the look of computer animation will think they’ve traveled back in time with "Happily N’Ever After." The animation is horrible _ flat, stiff and erratic. Few of the characters are memorable, and the backgrounds and props are indistinguishable.

But where "Happily N’Ever After" really falls short is in its story. It’s supposed to shake up the realm of fairy tales by playing with the balance of good and evil, but it’s not nearly wicked enough.

In "Happily N’Ever After," a wizard (voice of George Carlin) controls that balance and makes sure that all fairy tales come to the kind of happy ending that generations reared on Disney films have come to expect. But even wizards have to take vacations, and this one makes the mistake of leaving his two assistants in charge while he heads to Scotland for a golf spree.

Munk (Wallace Shawn) and Mambo (Andy Dick) are a bumbling pig and cat, respectively. Munk takes his job seriously, but Mambo is bored with the predictable nature of fairy tales and wants to see things shaken up. He gets his wish when Frieda (Sigourney Weaver), the evil stepmother of Cinderella (Sarah Michelle Gellar), finds out about the wizard’s command center.

Cinderella is on course to win the heart of the handsome prince (Patrick Warburton), to the displeasure of the prince’s servant, Rick (Freddie Prinze Jr.), who’s in love with Ella himself. But Frieda tilts the scales and gives the villains of the land free rein.

Robert Moreland’s script is a good start, but it has no follow-through. Frieda needs to have a grander scheme, and Ella deserves more than a better love match.

While the humor is weak, Dick and Shawn add a few laughs. Weaver spends the whole film shrieking. Gellar and Prinze are nondescript.

"Happily N’Ever After" is a cellar dweller, but at least it doesn’t feel like a curse. Its spell on viewers _ positive or negative _ will wear off quickly.

Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor.

Two stars (out of five).

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