We just can't stop rewriting our fairy tales.
It didn't begin with Shrek, although the runaway success of DreamWorks' sophomore animated feature inspired an ongoing wave of sequels and imitators, from a planned Puss in Boots feature to Hoodwinked—and now to Happily N'Ever After.
Fairy-tale spoofs and goofs have always been with us; Bugs Bunny mugged his way through shorts like "Little Red Riding Rabbit" and "Jack-Wabbit and the Beanstalk." In the 1980s, Peter Beagel's self-aware fairy tale The Last Unicorn became a modestly successful cartoon, and William Goldman adapted his own fantasy pastiche The Princess Bride for the screen, creating a cult classic.
In the 1990s, James Finn Garner's Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life & Times gleefully satired the foibles of modern culture by holding them up alongside the traditional values of the fairy-tale canon. More subversively, Gregory Maguire reversed this experiment with his revisionist novels Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and Confessions of an Ugly Step-Sister, undermining the traditional moral world of his fairy-tale source material.
That last work isn't the only feminist take on the Cinderella story. Other recent books and movies in that vein include Ever After: A Cinderella Story, Ella Enchanted, and Just Ella.
Happily N'Ever After offers yet another take on the Cinderella story. Like Maguire's novel, it displaces one of the traditional leading characters in favor of a less-noticed supporting figure—in this case, the Prince's disaffected servant, Rick (voiced by Freddy Prinze Jr.), who's secretly in love with the pixieish Ella (Sarah Michelle Gellar), though the latter is too overawed by the musclebound Prince's ...1