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‘Happily Ever After’

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 29, 1993


John Heimer
Irene Cara;
Michael Horton;
Malcolm McDowell;
Carol Channing;
Zsa Zsa Gabor;
Sally Kellerman;
Tracey Ullman;
Phyllis Diller;
Ed Asner;
Dom DeLuise
General audience

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"Happily Ever After," a tame and graceless animated feature, makes a nobly silly attempt to empower the gals of the fairy tale kingdom. It's a second chapter in the life of Snow White, but by no means a sequel to Disney's soon-to-be-rereleased classic. For one thing, Grumpy and the Guys, who signed an exclusive contract with Walt in '37, have been replaced here by the Seven Dwarfelles.

The Filmation movie, produced by Lou Scheimer and directed by John Heimer, does take up where the other left off. The heroine and her fiance, the Handsome Prince (voices of Irene Cara and Michael Horton) have decided on a date for their wedding and are on their way to deliver invitations to the dwarfs when they are waylaid by Lord Malice (growl of Malcolm McDowell). The Evil Brother of the late Evil Queen, Malice has vowed to avenge his sister's demise by destroying the couple's future happiness.

Assuming the shape of a red dragon, Malice snatches Handsome and carries him off to the dreary Realm of Doom. Snow escapes into the forest, where she finds the grotesquely drawn Dwarfelles, who explain that their male cousins have gone cross-country to work a new mine. Each gnomette controls an aspect of nature for which she has been named -- Muddy (Carol Channing) is in charge of the earth, Blossom (Zsa Zsa Gabor) the flowers and Sunburn (Sally Kellerman) the rays.

And for the wee ones, there's tiny, troubled Thunderella (Tracey Ullman, sounding girlish), who has been called before Mother Nature (Phyllis Diller in barky voice) for mismanaging the weather. A cross between a hula dancer and a jungle priestess, Mother Nature considers taking away the Dwarfelles' powers, but changes her mind when Snow, acting the advocate, pleads their case. They return the favor by joining her quest to find Handsome and destroy Malice.

The plot is simple enough for most one-celled organisms to follow, so the average tyke is sure to get a little bored. The badly drawn characters and their clumsy movements are only a little less Hanna-Barberic than TV toons. With its bland backgrounds and muddy colors, this is also a fairly ugly enterprise. And those doggy Dwarfelles make the bad guy and his sidekick -- Scowl the Owl (hapless Ed Asner) -- look like Santa's elves. And they're about as funny as Donald in duck soup. "Dis place burns me up" is a knee slapper favored by the burly, fuchsia-colored Sunburn, who apparently drives 18-wheelers on the side.

Other inane attempts at comic relief include the Magic Mirror (Dom DeLuise), who rhymes his repartee with Malice: "Keep it down, you noisy creep. You're ruining my beauty sleep." And then there's Scowl's rendition of "The Baddest," an aptly titled rap song by Ashley Hall and Stephanie Twirl. After the fabulous production numbers and Oscar-winning songs of "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin," an owl doing hip-hop is far from a hoot.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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