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Case Number 04410: Small Claims Court

Buy Happily Ever After (1993) at Amazon

Happily Ever After (1993)

Fox // 1993 // 74 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // May 14th, 2004

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All Rise...

According to Judge Bill Treadway, Happily Ever After proves that Zsa Zsa Gabor is funnier than Carol Channing, Sally Kellerman, and Tracey Ullman.

Editor's Note

Our review of Happily Ever After (2007), published July 30th, 2009, is also available.

The Charge

Whatever happened to Snow White?

The Case

That is a good question. The saddest thing about Happily Ever After is the failure to provide a satisfactory answer. The story takes place a short time after the events of the 1937 Disney masterpiece. Lord Maliss (voice of Malcolm McDowell) is an evil overlord seeking his sister, the Wicked Queen. After discovering Snow White (voice of Irene Cara) is responsible for her death, he sets out to destroy her. Prince Charming is transformed into some sort of creature and taken away to die. The Seven Dwarfs are on vacation and have leased their home out to some ersatz Dwarfelles. Together, they make the attempt to find him before Maliss conquers the world.

Now upon reading that synopsis, you may think that Happily Ever After sounds like a good story. Upon watching John Howley's finished film, however, you will scratch your head in bafflement. Let me assure all my loyal readers that Disney had nothing to do with this abomination. The credit for Happily Ever After belongs to Filmation Studios. Famous for their Saturday morning animation, including Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Filmation made a decision in 1986 to concentrate on theatrical animated features. Their first production, Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night became an $8 million fiasco. Intended as a follow-up, Happily Ever After found itself temporarily shelved upon completion in 1988. In 1990, 1st National Film Corporation acquired the film for a June release. A dispute with producer Milton Verret, Filmation, and 1st National resulted in its being shelved a second time. By September 1993, the film received a piecemeal theatrical release before heading to the video shelves that October.

The animation is often poor. Despite the large budget of $9 million, the money does not appear on screen. The bigger budget seems to have instigated idleness rather than creativity. This is a sloppy, lazy film with animation that wouldn't even pass PBS standards. Filmation's television efforts were made on low budgets with creativity and energetic zeal. The two features are dark, depressing, and stodgy. What demographic was Happily Ever After intended for? Young children will be terrified with the film's darker elements. Older children will find the romantic angle dull. Adults will roll their eyes with the often dumb humor of the Dwarfelles.

The only vocal talent to emerge from Happily Ever After unscathed is Malcolm McDowell. He is superb as Lord Maliss. He invests every line with the appropriate menace and mystery the role requires. As for the Dwarfelles, what can you say when Zsa Zsa Gabor manages to be funnier than Carol Channing (Shinbone Alley), Sally Kellerman (M), and Tracey Ullman (Small Time Crooks)? (typing those very words made me shudder in fright.) ed asner's pathetic attempt at rap may be the most unintentionally funny moment since bela lugosi's "bevare!" rant in Glen or Glenda?. Despite her considerable acting and singing talents, Irene Cara phones it in as Snow White. There is no feeling in her performance. Maybe she realized early that this was a disaster. Even Dom DeLuise fails to get laughs in his comic role as the Magic Mirror.

Fox presents Happily Ever After in full frame only. The original aspect ratio was 1.66:1. I do not understand why Fox chose to deny people the widescreen experience. However, I doubt many will complain when it comes to Happily Ever After. Colors are vivid at times and murky at others. The image is loaded with grain towards the second half of the film. Edge enhancement appears when it shouldn't. It is fitting in a way: an ugly transfer for an ugly film.

Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, although search me if you think this is good sound. The awful songs are mixed far too loudly. The cheesy dialogue is poorly mixed, often sounding tinny and hushed. Sound effects range from effective to mush. You will be fooling with your sound system.

As for extras, we get the original theatrical trailer, prepared for the abortive 1988 release, in full frame. Previews of other Fox Family discs conclude the package.
Despite the cheap $14.95 retail price, Happily Ever After is one disc you parents can easily afford…to skip!

Case dismissed.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 30

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 74 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Rated G
• All Ages
• Animation
• Bad

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailer


• IMDb

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