Did you enjoy "Shrek?" Or last year's sleeper hit "Hoodwinked?" Well, "Happily N'Ever After" is a GC-animated release that's counting on that fandom. You could pass this picture off as faint homage, or even threadbare acknowledgment, but let's get serious: this is grand theft movie on a very uncomfortable and tedious scale. 2007 is barely three winks old, and we're kicking off the newborn year with this? It's going be a long, cold winter at the multiplexes.
"N'Ever" started life as a German animated riff on fairy tales; another jog around the irreverence track that "Fractured Fairy Tales" made cool and "Shrek" made magnificently profitable. Outside of the "N'Ever-ending" opening titles that list the endless companies that paid for this beast, there's one great clue that the picture was not born in Hollywood: the heaving bosoms. Only the Germans would bestow such careful, pillowy attention to the bustline of the wicked stepmother and the flying witches. It's enough to make Russ Meyer's corpse make involuntary gripping motions with his hands.
The rest of "N'Ever" isn't nearly as interesting. It's a harmless enough diversion for toddlers, but the sheer lack of any invention or wit is brutal to behold. It's a cheap, ugly production with animation on a level with the PS2's most mediocre cinema scenes, and padded ridiculously with nondescript "adventure" and "comedy" that puts the audience right to sleep. The only reason this was spared the cruel death of the direct-to-video market was because there's still gold in the "Shrek" hills, and Lionsgate wants their slice of the pie.
We have gags about Rapunzel's long hair, Sleeping Beauty's deep slumber, a dim-witted Prince Charming, and a union of evil fairy tale creatures irritated they never get their due. You've been here before, trust me. What truly fries the senses is the voice talent. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Sigourney Weaver (who actually seems to be enjoying herself as the aforementioned busty stepmother) show up to add their B-list spark and poor lip-synch to the film, while tired, unfunny hacks like Andy Dick, Wallace Shawn, and Patrick Warburton punch the clock in the comedy department. At this point, I'm ready to start a petition to keep Warburton out of any and all animated releases. Seriously, enough is enough.
It seems so impossibly strange to me that Lionsgate would allow "N'ever" to be shown to the press before release day, while they furiously scramble to hide their horror line-up and Tyler Perry films year after year. Clearly, someone at the studio must've been inhaling the eggnog this holiday season to allow this nonsense to be viewed early.
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