Happily N’Ever After Film Review
In 2006, fairy tale retellings were very popular. In fact, two computer animated movies based on fairy tales were released that year. One of these, Hoodwinked!, told the story of “Little Red Riding Hood.” The other was Happily N’Ever After, based on the story of “Cinderella.”
Both Hoodwinked! and Happily N’Ever After are retellings with a modern twist, taking a new look at some old favorites. Both have one other thing in common – Patrick Warburton (the voice of Kronk in The Emperor’s New Groove) in an important role. This adds extra humor to two movies that, honestly, are both very clever in different ways.
The story of Happily N’Ever After is narrated by the character of Cinderella’s best friend Rick, who is not in the original tale. This gives us an outside look at the events of “Cinderella,” and, with the very talented voice actors, makes what could be a very lame story quite funny. Be warned, though, there are a ton of puns and other lame jokes in this film. Despite that, somehow it all works.
Happily N’Ever After follows Cinderella, Rick the servant, and Munk and Mambo, assistants to the Wizard. The Wizard is responsible for making sure everyone in Fairytale Land gets their happy ending, and when he goes on vacation, he leaves his assistants Munk and Mambo in charge.
The two are charged with making sure that the fairy tales unfold the way that they’re supposed to. However, Frieda, the evil stepmother, steps in and takes over. With the Wizard’s staff, she calls the villains to her side and they begin to ruin everyone’s happy endings. To be fair, villains never get a happy ending.
Munk and Mambo know that they need to get the staff back from Frieda. To do that, they need the Prince, who is trying to find the maiden with the glass slipper. Since he’s looking for Ella, she teams up with Munk and Mambo to find him. As they travel and tangle with the villains, Ella slowly comes into her own as a person and a fighter.
Meanwhile, Rick is at the palace, struggling with his place in Fairytale Land. The Royal Dishwasher never gets a happy ending either, and he’s in love with his best friend Ella. But when Ella is in danger, Rick risks everything to help her, even trying to help her find the Prince. Can this unlikely band of heroes save the day? Will they defeat Frieda? And is Ella really in love with the Prince?
The characters are wonderful. Ella is the perfectly timid Cinderella who is forced to step up and fight for her happily ever after, and Rick is a servant struggling with his place in life and his unrequited love. The Prince is a lovably dumb character who still has a heart of gold, Munk and Mambo are two assistants with distinct personalities (one uptight and one mischievous), and Frieda is delightfully maniacal and conniving.
Musically, the score by Paul Buckley is a lot of fun. The score of Happily N’Ever After has enough whimsy and romance, while also being dark at the appropriate times. There are also a lot of songs. These are all upbeat and bouncy, adding to the overall story in a great way.
The animation in Happily N’Ever After can look a little clunky at times, but a lot of early CGI people looked and moved in a clunky way. Plus, as a film that is trying to point out the problems with fairy tales, the animation is a direct contrast to the more polished-looking Disney films about princesses.
Romantically speaking, I find Happily N’Ever After to be very satisfying. The relationship between Ella and Rick makes sense to me, but then again, I’ve always been a big fan of the friends-who-fall-in-love trope. The way that Ella slowly began to realize that she might have feelings for her best friend was believable and slow.
I also appreciated the fact that Ella is concerned about the ending of her tale being her wedding. It reminds me a lot of Into the Woods; it emphasizes that a wedding isn’t the end of the story, but the beginning of a new chapter. Plus, Rick’s pining for Ella and his willingness to do anything for the best friend that he’s in love with was very sweetly portrayed. And since it was a fairy tale, I knew it would end up alright for Rick.
Happily N’Ever After might not be Disney, Pixar, or DreamWorks quality animation, but I don’t think it’s trying to be. It’s a film that tries to poke fun at fairy tale conventions, while still ending with the triumph of true love. I think that it succeeds on both counts. If you like fairy tales and laughing at some of those tropes that you love to read, check out Happily N’Ever After. It’s available for streaming on Amazon Prime and as a DVD on Netflix.
Did you see Happily N’Ever After? Share your thoughts on this animated film!
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”