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Sarah Michelle Gellar

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

Kevin Schramm

Saturday 27 January 2007, by Webmaster

Grim viewing in ’Happily N’Ever After’

When computer-generated animation really started to catch on with American audiences, Hollywood had one of two choices: They could break the "cartoon" connotation and explore the limits of the medium or they could exploit the proven formula of cutesy characters with an ever-shrinking scale of recycled creativity. Sadly, Hollywood chose the latter, and we have been - with rare exceptions - suffering the consequences ever since.

The latest evidence of this is found in Lionsgate’s "Happily N’Ever After."

In the film, a Wizard (George Carlin) presides over the Land of Fairy Tales with a precariously balanced scale of good and evil that keeps all the tales told as they should. But, while away on vacation, the magician’s ghoulish assistants, Mambo (Andy Dick) and Munk (Wallace Shawn), inadvertently allow Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, Frieda (Sigourney Weaver), to storm into the palace and tip the balance in evil’s favor, thereby altering everyone’s favorite fairy tales with dire consequences.

Cinderella (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Ella for short, finds her own tale caught in the madness of this re-balancing act. She is horrified when, on the night of her ball, the palace is overrun with all of Fairy’s worst. Accompanied by her lovelorn friend Rick (Freddie Prinze Jr.), the palace dishwasher, Ella sets out across the Land to find her Prince (Patrick Warburton) so that he can do his thing and save the day - even though Rick keeps telling Ella that she is perfectly capable of doing it herself.

’Happily N’Ever After’

Studio: Vanguard Animation

Director: Paul J. Bolger

Cast: George Carlin, John Di Maggio, Andy Dick, Sarah Michelle Gellar

Rating: PG for some mild action and rude humor The one-dimensional fairy tale role reversal is good for a few chuckles ... at first. But it quickly becomes apparent that this kind of narrow satire works best in short bursts (as typically found on Cartoon Network’s adult swim), and not as a laborious 85-minute theatrical film.

Curiously, not even real life married couple Gellar and Prinze Jr. are able to conjure up enough spark of life to rescue "Happy" from this morass. Gellar, who has seemed lost since "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" went off the air, sounds as though she is merely going through the motions. And Prinze comes off like some punk love-clone of Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest: more milksop-machine than man.

In fact, despite the inclusion of veteran voice-actor John Di Maggio, the only one to inject any kind of flair into the film is the Empress of Evil herself, who, at the end of the day, is still reading from a flat script.

It’s only week two of the new year, and already each cold, digitally reproduced copy seems worse than the one that came before. Just how bad will the rest of 2007’s computer-generated films be? I wonder if it’s too late for Hollywood to make a resolution to no longer associate banality with animation.