Plot: What’s it about?
The balance between good and evil is what ensures that fairy tales go by the book, which means of course, happy endings are always on tap. A powerful wizard (voiced by George Carlin) oversees the scales, with his two assistants Mambo (voiced by Andy Dick) and Munk (voiced by Wallace Shawn). If things start to veer off course, a simple tilt of the scales restores order and the fairy tales remain on track. When he goes on vacation however, Mambo begins to be bored with the same happy endings over and over, as he longs for the stories have more edge. Munk disagrees however, insistent that the rules be followed, but their bickering attracts the attention of someone who isn’t above tilting the scales toward the evil side. The Wicked Stepmother (voiced by Sigourney Weaver) notices them and overhears the talk about changing the fates, so he takes over the scales. Of course, she quickly makes it so that happy endings are cut off and the bad guys wind up on top. Even as Prince Charming seems to fall short of hero status, someone else rises to the occasion, but can a simple dishwasher save the world?
I love computer animated features, I admit my addiction and even if they’re bad, I can’t help but find some kind of enjoyment as I watch. Happily N’Ever After is just an instance, an obvious attempt to cash in on the success of Shrek, while not doing much to tweak the concept. The story is thin, but has a decent hook with the scales that balance good and evil, while shoving in some of the beloved fairy tale characters we all know. Cinderella, the seven dwarves, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Jack and the giant, and others all show up, but few are given much to do. The humor is passable, with some sight gags and one liners, but this is not Shrek level stuff, just mid level entertainment. The visuals were quite cool to me, but I’ve seen others complain about them. I like the simple textures and the plastic, rubbery look involved. Not up to Shrek or Pixar standards, but more than decent and the character design is more than solid as well. I should point, as I have seen done in several other reviews, you’ve never seen this much cleavage in a movie of this kind, the breasts are bursting at the seams here. Happily N’Ever After is no masterpiece, but it offers decent fun and as such, makes a nice choice for a rental.
Video: How does it look?
Happily N’Ever After is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. I have good and bad news to report here, but the visuals on the whole look quite good. The film has a bright and bold visual design, one that transfers well to Blu-ray and provides some nice eye candy. The colors are rich and vibrant, especially the blues, greens, and reds, which seem to pop right off the screen. I found detail to be impressive also, with subtle textures evident and other small touches. The bad news is there is more than a little shimmering, especially on the metallic colored elements. This is never overly harsh, but it is very obvious and for Blu-ray, I think we expect a little more. Even so, the transfer holds up well and despite a few minor flaws, I think fans will be most pleased with this presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
The soundtrack here is DTS HD and that is great news, as this is a nice step up from the standard release. The movie has a lot of dialogue and lower key sequences, so the audio isn’t a full frontal assault in terms of surround presence. But there are several scenes that amp up the surround presence and thankfully, it all sounds excellent. There is power when needed and directional presence when needed, so all the bases are covered here. I wouldn’t rank this as a demo disc as far as audio is concerned, but the material is handled quite well. The dialogue is crystal clear and never suffers, while background elements are in fine form. This disc also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 option, a Spanish language track, and subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
All of the extras from the standard edition have been retained, so fans can breathe a sigh of relief. A director’s commentary provides a nice amount of background information, but isn’t as in depth as I would like. A good deal of silence hampers the track also, but it is worth a listen if you’re interested. A triple shot of featurettes is up next, but these are mainly promotional in nature and don’t yield much substance. I did enjoy the look at the storyboards compared to the final film however, as I am a sucker for storyboards. You can also watch an alternate end sequence, as well as some other deleted scenes. The last of the supplements is a trio of games, which are decent, but don’t add much value.