‘N’ever’ say never to animated creatures 

From Carl Jung’s "collective unconscious" to Bruno Bettelheim’s "Uses of Enchantment" to "Fractured Fairytales" (of "Bullwinkle" fame) to Stephen Sondheim’s affecting masterpiece "Into the Woods" — messing with the Grimm Brothers has been a growth industry.

The latest addition to the genre of adult wisecracks over seminal childhood stories is the animated feature "Happily N’ever After" from Paul J. Bolger, making his debut as director, and written by Robert Moreland, whose résumé includes "Thunder Pig."Paul Buckley’s simple, syrupy music neither helps nor hurts.

"N’ever" — so spelled most likely in order to avoid marketing and/or legal problems against other "Never" films — is an imaginative, mild-mannered, fairly funny and entertaining treatment of the Cinderella story, featuring a major-league cast of voice talent. Coming from the "Shrek" producers, it is Shrek-Lite.

Sarah Michelle Gellar provides the perky voice of (Cinder)Ella, struggling against the pure-evil Frieda, aka Stepmother (Sigourney Weaver).

With not nearly enough screen time, the Wizard has George Carlin’s lovely, rumbling voice. After he takes off for a spot of golf in Scotland, power passes into the troublemaking hands of two weird little creatures: Munk (Wally Shawn) and Mambo (Andy Dick, excellent).

Lisa Kaplan is the ditzy Fairy Godmother (looking too much like the one in "Shrek 2"), and Freddie Prinze Jr. does a crackerjack job voicing Rick, the lowly court servant with a crush on Ella. Will he best the grotesque and dim Prince (Patrick Warburton)? Expect no spoiler here.

Otherwise, hang on: "Shrek the Third" is not far away — if only there were a release date for it; there isn’t, but hark! Posters are showing up in movie theaters.

Happily N’ever After **

Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sigourney Weaver, Wally Shawn, Andy Dick, Lisa Kaplan, Freddie Prinze Jr., Patrick Warburton, George Carlin

Written by Robert Moreland

Directed by Paul J. Bolger

Rated PG

Running time 1 hour, 27 minutes

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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