Happily, Never Again

« January 2007 »

Memo to Paul Bolger and Robert Moreland: YOU ARE DUMB.

Seriously, Hollywood. If you're not able to use your computers for our mutual edification and entertainment, then we'll have to fucking take them away from you and use them to, I don't know, speed up porn downloads or something; search for extraterrestrial life; I don't care. Anything so long as it's not another 90 minutes of pseudo-animated pseudo-comedy.

The beauty of CGI is that it allows whatever the creators imagine to take form on-screen. The problem with CGI is that creators can't seem to imagine much of anything. The pattern got established early on, the ruts carved into stone. A few B-list stars or A-list voice actors, faux-subversive cultural referencing, post-ironic music placement. Slap some texture maps on that puppy, hire some programmers to make a Game Boy Advance game out of it, and throw it up on screens for a couple of weeks until the next one comes along.

Last year was bad enough; between Hoodwinked and Happy Feet, I don't think there was a single fucking phylum that wasn't reduced to a wisecracking caricature voiced by a sitcom co-star at some point. But today, 2007 gets off to an even earlier start with the release of Happily N'Ever After, an unofficial Shrek ripoff attempting to steal the thunder from the OFFICIAL Shrek ripoff that comes out in May.

Now, I hate to bag on a movie I haven't seen, by two people (director Bolger, writer Moreland) who have neither works of genius nor crimes against humanity on their resumes. But the trailer is more than enough to condemn it outright.

I mean, I'm as big a fan of subverting the form as the next guy, but self-aware mockery of fairy tales goes back a long time. It's subverted. It's so subverted it's been turned inside out. If anyone did a normal, straightforward, self-unaware fairy tale these days, it'd be hailed as a brilliant subversion of the form. Princes are doofs. Happy endings aren't really endings. We get it. We know. MOVE ON. "Dwarf" is politically incorrect terminology! SPARE ME.

Stunt casting! Sarah Michelle Geller and Freddie Prinze Jr. as a couple! Nobody cares about them when they're in live-action movies as a couple. Hell, nobody cares about them when they're in Taco Bell as a couple. George Carlin as a wizard! I predict a five-minute scene with two drug jokes. Andy Dick as a spastic purple cat-monkey-wombat-jester! The role he was born to play.

Misleading claims! "From the producer of Shrek and Shrek 2!" Technically true! In a Venn diagram showing the four producers of Shrek and the nine(!!!!) producers of Happily, there is in fact a one-man overlap. It's a good thing they mentioned that. Otherwise, people would sit through the entire trailer and NEVER ONCE think of Shrek.

And, at least in the trailer, Peaches and Herb's "Shake Your Groove Thing", which had every last drop of irony wrung out of it thirteen years ago when they used it in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Added to everything else, this song makes the trailer look like a desperate come-on by a balding, 45-year-old used car salesman. In the bar of a TGI Friday's. To the 25-year-old waitress.

So shape the fuck up, Hollywood, or we're gonna come over there, take all your fancy render farms, and melt them down to make abstract sculptures for our lawns. You know, something we can actually bear to look at for 90 minutes straight.