DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Not Rated
    Studio: Lionsgate

    Directed by: Boyd Kirkland and Steve Gordon

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Existing in the same twisted fairy tale universe as the original film, “Happily N’Ever After 2” takes a new spin on Snow White instead of Cinderella. Snow White has grown up a princess with her widowed father. She’s been spoiled and is more like Paris Hilton than her mother, whom everyone adored. When Rumpelstiltskin appears and turns a conniving peasant into the spitting image of Snow White’s mother, she must learn what it is like to be a compassionate ruler before she can grow up to be queen.

When I saw the first “Happily N’Ever After,” I was a bit unimpressed. A lot of my annoyance with the first film is that it came out amid “Shrek” sequels and also followed recent films like “Ella Enchanted” and “Hoodwinked.” In short, the send up of the fairy tale had been done to death already. Now, with the sequel hitting DVD directly, I wasn’t expecting as much so there wasn’t so far to be let down. Plus, we’ve gotten away from the twisted fairy tale a bit, at least enough to let this film breathe.

This film is actually a little more self-contained than the first, which bodes well for its story. Rather than trying to be bigger than life, “Happily N’Ever After 2” accepts its limitations and doesn’t go so far over the top that it gets annoying. Also, there’s no Freddie Prinze Jr. or Sarah Michelle Gellar (quickly becoming animated movie poison, as “Delgo” showed last year), which makes this easier to watch.

Also, coming from a parent’s perspective, where DVDs are often rented partially for their integrity, this one actually has its heart in the right place. It may be a fake take on a popular fairy tale, but it still has a wholesome fairy tale message to it.

If you’re one of those people who hated the “Happily N’Ever After” theatrical release, you’ll probably be likewise annoyed with this film. But then again, if you hated the first film, why should you even bother with this one?

As a direct-to-DVD kids’ movie, it works well enough. Sure, there are some low-rent CGI elements, and the story isn’t as strong as the high-end animated films out there. But this is about what you can expect from the direct-to-DVD kids market.

The biggest crime this film commits is to try to be too hip with “The Damsel” (which is what the socialites Snow White, Little Bo Peep, Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood are called) greeting each other with an annoying “Holla!” every time they hook up.

Three set-top games are featured in the bonus materials. One with Little Bo Peep has you trying to find her lost lambs. The one with Little Red Riding Hood has you count the number of apples being dropped in a basket. And the Snow White one lets you replay the climax of the movie as you try to stop Rumplestiltskin from taking over the kingdom.

Young kids and anyone who simply adores any move that turns a fairy tale on its head.

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