Lionsgate // 2008 // 70 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 9th, 2009
Fairy tales collide.
Reimagining a handful of fairy tales smashed into a Bratz-themed tale of girls gone wild.
Snow White is a spoiled teenager who spends all night kicking it with her BFFs Red Riding Hood, Goldlicks, and Little Bo Peep. Her sky-high status level has led to an inflated opinion of herself and contempt for anyone who doesn't measure up to her social class.
When Lady Vain enters the picture, stepping in to marry Snow White's father the king, she crafts a diabolical scheme to push Snow out of the way and leapfrog into power. With a dash of magic malfeasance, she tricks Snow White into talking trash about her friends and the public backlash forces her to run off into the woods, where she hooks up with a bunch of dwarves and learns to find value in the abject filthiness of peasants.
Yeah, this didn't do too much for me. There were a handful of decent gags (the wicked witch telling her toadie not to bother her when she's cackling was pretty good) but, for a release that has so much fairy tale mythology at its disposal, the laughs just aren't there. As a functional morality tale with your typical dash of romance, good versus evil, and Very Important Lesson Learning, Happily N'Ever After 2 succeeds a tiny bit more. The morals of not being a shallow, judgmental she-beast are appreciated, but it's nothing you haven't seen before.
Actually there's not much going on here you haven't seen before. Everything from the main characters (the "hip" teenaged girls who -- ugh -- repeatedly shout "hollah," the handsome, kind-hearted prince; the shrewish evil witch) to the plot (privileged princess goes into exile to find her true self then rushes back to prevent her father from marrying a bad person, which sounds a whole lot like a Saved by the Bell episode) is achingly familiar. If the humor were more potent, I'd likely have no problem overlooking this complete lack of uniqueness but, in conjunction with the meager laugh output, the final verdict is an emphatic HO-HUM.
The animation isn't bad, though. Given a middle-budget CGI look, Happily 2 holds its own with the current crop of direct-to-DVD animated releases. There are plenty of recognizable characters from the fairy tale of your choice and they're rendered with color and liveliness.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer does the animation right, putting out a clean video presentation. For audio, the film gets the standard issue 5.1 Dolby Digital surround, active enough for its purposes here. Extras: three interactive games, "Snow White and the Great Hall," "Red Riding Hood Challenge" and "Bo Peep and the Sheep"; they won't make your PS3 obsolete anytime soon, but should keep the rugrats fairly entertained.
Snow White, mediocrity is thy name. Kids should like it well enough, though.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 70 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated