"Happily N'Ever After" is a mockery of all your typical kids movies. Set in Fairytale Land, the Wizard (George Carlin) controls all of the fairytales of the world. His job is to keep the balance in Fairytale Land and make sure that all the fairytales end with their respective happy endings. With the Wizard on vacation, his two assistants Munk (Wallace Shawn) and Mambo (Andy Dick) are there to make sure nothing goes wrong for any of the characters. Our main focus is on Cinderella (a.k.a. Ella, voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar), who life is going as planned with her Fairy Godmother, pumpkin coach, and Prince Charming. That is until her evil stepmother Frieda (Sigourney Weaver) finds out about the Wizard's powers and ability to shift the balance to make the fairytales end differently...in favor of the villains. She decides to take matters into her own hands, changing the storylines of everyone from Little Red Riding Hood to Repunzel, but she definitely has a personal vendetta to make Ella's life the most miserable. Ella goes out to set things right again with Monk, Mambo and Rick (Freddie Prince Jr.) the castle dishwasher (who happens to have a crush on Ella). With the help of the seven dwarfs and other fairytale characters, they might have a chance at defeating Frieda and her gang of villains before the wizard returns and maybe change some endings to make things more happily ever after than before.
"Happily N'Ever After" doesn't have a lot going for it. It seems as if it could have been a decently funny film. But "Happily N'Ever After" never seems to find its groove. With an assortment of fairytales that it pokes at and uses to move along the story, we really never start to care about our characters and if they get their happy ending. There are some slightly funny references to other films, music, and fairytales though. For example: There is a scene where the monsters and villains have just taken over the castle and in the background we hear the Monster Mash being played and get to see some monsters dancing to the Monster Mash. Sound funny? Yah okay, it wasn't that funny, but it did give me a little chuckle. Perhaps the funniest part was with the seven dwarfs...they are given a unique spin that is interesting to watch pan out.
Another area in which "Happily N'Ever After" really struggles is its animation. I know that they were going for a stylized animation and it was not supposed to look real...but the animations were way off. Lip movement was not on track with the dialogue, and even just normal walk cycles look awkward. When you are watching a film that is entirely animation, it is very important to draw you in and believe that you are there. "Happily N'Ever After's" animation does not do this; it actually makes us remember that we are watching an animated flick. You can constantly pick out the poorly animated characters, which will distract you throughout the film.
I don't have many complaints here. "Happily N'Ever After" might fail as a movie, but is treated well with a very good video transfer. When we watch CG films today we expect to get perfection, being that the film is full of "created" colors, and everything we see is not real and we can make it "feel" however we want to. "Happily N'Ever After" does a very good job of creating a look and feel to the film from the very start, and it carries on throughout. The detail is excellent and the colors really pop...especially the greens. Is the video perfect?...no...but it is a very nice transfer that is pretty to look at.
Here we are given a DTS HD Master Audio and 5.1 DTS track. "Happily N'Ever After" has a pretty equal amount of talking as it does action scenes. The surrounds are surprisingly used well. There is a scene where a bunch of Wicked Witches jump on their jet-powered brooms and fly all around the room through your speakers. This isn't saying that it is done perfectly during the entire movie; there are times where the surrounds are lacking and don't put us into the film. When it comes to dialogue, the dialogue is just okay. It is quite soft at times, and the surrounds drown out the dialogue, making us turn up the volume.
Commentary by Director Paul Bolger: Here we get a fairly bland commentary track. Bolger almost sounds like he knows the film was terrible and he tries to tell us things that might make us thing the film is better then it really is. Besides that, the commentary track is standard: here are the details of the film, here are the characters, here's some stuff about the story line. Bolger does at times have some nice insights and does give some nice details about the production of the film. I can only recommend this if "Happily N'Ever After" is your favorite animated film ever.
Journey of the Characters in the Enchanted Forest: Here Bolger brings us through the character development, the animation process, and how the animation and effects play out in the film.
From Storyboard to Fairytale: A Comparison: This is actually kind of a neat way to look at the storyboards, layouts, animation, and final renders all together in one frame.
Creating the Happily Story: Bringing N'Ever After to Life: Cast and crew bring us through their characters, and some more details about bringing their characters and the story to life.
Deleted Scenes & Alternate Ending: Nothing important to see here.
Games: Munk's Fairytale Fix, Mambo & Munk's Magical Matchmaker, and Choose Your Own Fairytale. All games that the kids will most likely not play, and if they do try them out, they will turn them off immediately.
"Happily N'Ever After" is a long way away from being a good film. It provides mild laughs a couple of times but fails to truly allow us to dive into the story and be entertained. The video is very nice and the audio is good, but there are a lot of other animated films that look and sound much better. The special features are pretty packed full, but none of them really deserve a look. Skip it.