This seems to be a reoccurring issue, especially with children’s movies. The producers make a good movie. Not a great movie, mind you, a good movie, one that is passable for entertainment and they make some money off of it. So what do they decide to do? They make a sequel to it. Sounds good right? You get to see more of your favorite characters and settings… except they can never seem to get the same people involved and the quality of the production very quickly goes down the hole. Seriously, how many good kid’s movie sequels have you seen?
When I get really really bored and somehow find myself in need of something just to put on to pass an hour while I do something with my hands I go to one of two sources. The first is my internet reviews but they don’t always have something new or exciting up. When they fail me I turn to Netflix and find the first thing that looks vaguely interesting and put it on. This is very often times a bad idea. It usually finds me watching some really dumb kids movie, or really dumb romantic comedy. The week it found me watching Happily N’Ever After 2.
To properly assess how bad this movie was you have to go back to the first movie. Happily N’Ever After was actually a fairly decent movie for a kid’s flick. The animation wasn’t quite so terrible, there was a legitimate villain with a plan, real stakes, a proper hero and heroine and some fairly good side characters. In the first movie we are introduced to the fairy tale world where balance is kept by some wizard with a set of scales and his two bumbling assistants. Wizard goes on vacation and in walks evil stepmother with a grudge to upset the scales. That’s her plan, to upset the scales so that she can take over. Brilliant, no? Anyway we follow the bumbling assistants as they try to restore the balance with the help of Cinderella and Rick, the busboy. Through their adventure to set the balance right so that Cinderella can marry the prince she realizes that her happy ending is what she makes it and falls in love with the busboy instead. Yeah, sounds pretty interesting, right? We have some fun characters, some good comedy and a decent story. On to the crappy stuff.
Take all the good stuff about Happily N’Ever After and throw it away. It obviously isn’t needed. What is needed is some really lame modernizations to the medieval setting; magic cell phones, medieval night clubs, that sort of thing, and the some random items off of the ‘good to teach children’ list and you’re good. Riiiight? Wrong. What we have here is a very dull movie about a brat of a princess in a kingdom of over sensitive pricks and bad parents. Are you ready? Here we go.
Instead of some villain breaking the scales it’s Mambo, one of the assistants that breaks the scales to make things more interesting. They don’t try to fix it the entire movie, instead they go running around trying to interfere with the story. Who’s story? Snow White’s. And you know what? It’s not really messed with at all. It plays out twisted, but essentially how it’s supposed to. There’s really no impact of the scales, which is kind of the point in having them, so they can be a plot device. They aren’t even that. So what’s Snow Whites deal if not the scales? Well her mother was loved by everyone, taught her to a reasonable age to be kind and help people and you will be loved and considered beautiful and then she dies. Somehow, nine-year-old Snow White who knew all that her mother taught her turns into sixteen-year-old Snow White who is a spoiled brat obsessed with fashion and appearing at the latest parties. This is not helped by her friends who are all snobs. Oh, they throw orphans in there too, btw. The lowest of low clichés to pull and they pull it all over the place.
Instead of having a proper prince we get Sir Peter who was an orphan in one of the queen’s orphanages and was apparently greatly influenced by her. He ‘just wants to help people’. However, he is the perfect example of why the moral of the story they try to sell us is incorrect. But I’ll get to that later. Sir Peter is a snob as well. Why is that, you might ask? Well you see he’s so caught up in his ‘helping people’ kick that he considers himself a better person than Snow White because her friend snubbed commoners. Make sense? No, of course not. Seriously, he snubs Snow White after dancing with her because her friend says that they got a private room to get away from the riff raff. Snow White just invited him to the room. She said nothing about wanting to get away from the riff raff, that was all him and her friend and yet he clumps her in with them. You might think it makes sense for him to assume that this is how she feels as well but he didn’t even ask her. He just assumed she was going along with her friend and snubs her for it. It’s not even the polite ‘no thank you I’ll stay here’ that would be expected of a truly good person. It’s ‘I’ll stay here because I’m one of the riff raff’ *asks other girl to dance*. That’s low, buddy, really low. Do you know what it does to a girl to see the guy she likes ask someone else to dance right after they’ve danced with her? It’s not good for the self-esteem let me tell you. He keeps doing it, too. They never talk about it; he just snubs her and then tries to go on acting like a good person. It’s really sickening. He has absolutely no character development whatsoever either. He’s just this flat dick on a horse.
Our villain is, naturally an evil step mother… kind of. The king decides Snow White needs a mother so he sends his assistant to find a wife for him. He goes to a dating agency, naturally, and they find our villain who was really ugly until she got a magic mirror to make her look just like the queen so that she could marry the king and be queen. Why does she want to be queen? I don’t know, she just does. It’s not like she has any power or anything as queen that we know about, she just really wants to be queen. That’s pretty much her whole plan; just to marry the king and be queen. The only reason she gets rid of Snow White is because she’s annoying and doesn’t want her to marry the king. Gee I wonder why? She’s not at all like the first queen and everyone can see it. She must be really good at acting around the king, or the king must be really dumb to not see it.
That brings us to the king, now doesn’t it? The king is one of many bad parents in this movie. He lets Snow White get away with pretty much anything she wants and wonders why she’s spoiled. He acts like raising her is the hardest thing in the world when really if he’d just grow a spine he could probably handle her pretty well. He pulls the ‘your mother’ line way too much, thinking somehow that is going to get her to behave like a princess when it’s really just holding her to standards that he didn’t raise her to meet. When she’s running through the streets because everyone hates her, (yeah, spoilers that’s her biggest conflict) instead of trying to be comforting he’s just like “Why are you surprised? You’re a horrible person, your mother would be ashamed,” and then is confused when she runs off crying. He doesn’t even go after her! He sends his assistant to do it! His assistant is older than he is! He doesn’t go looking for her either. He just waits for her to come home. Brilliant parenting, really.
The other big bad parent is the villain’s mother. We see her in the beginning asking her mother why the queen is so loved. Her mother answers that it’s because she is a beautiful person. Our villain says she wants to be queen and asks if she is beautiful to which any good mother would reply ‘yes, you are beautiful to me.’ That is the correct response. This mother responds with ‘what do you think’ thus telling her she’s not beautiful at all. No wonder she’s so messed up. The whole movie could have been avoided if she had taught her daughter a little bit of self worth.
So I suppose I should talk about the plot a little and how nonexistent it is. Basically the entire plot consists of Snow White being a brat but still wanting everyone to love her like they did her mother, eating an apple that makes her say rude things about everyone in the kingdom and then running away when everyone hates her to meet the seven dwarves who decide to help her for the sake of the queen, doing pretty much what the king should have been doing since she was nine and turning her into a good person who wants to help people at which point Sir Peter comes back for pretty much no reason to bring her back to the kingdom to stop her father’s wedding because they don’t like the woman he wants to marry. And that’s pretty much it.
Seriously, this kid has no real problems. How does she know everyone in the kingdom? How does everyone in the kingdom know what she said about them? I refuse to believe they all have magical cell phones. Why are they all so offended by one little comment each? A lot of them weren’t even that bad. She makes Bo-peep sob because she said she’s an air-head. It’s true, btw, but she’s still completely offended. She says one bad thing about each of her friends and all of a sudden they completely turn on her. What’s really funny is that the whole town forms an angry mob with knives and pitch forks to chase her around for saying mean things. Did none of these people ever learn to just let things go? They’re telling our kids that if someone says something mean about you you should for an angry mob and go after them. Seriously, what were they planning to do with her? It’s a kid’s movie! They never rectify this either. Yeah, she was in the wrong, but so were they. There are also citizens who boo at Snow White for cutting in line at a grand opening with her friends. Yeah, they don’t like her because she cut in line, and she’s a princess. Let’s not forget, of course the fact that they make fun of her right back when she comes back at the end of the movie. They snub her, again, because she said one mean thing about them. What a bunch of bitches. We never know if Sir Peter is any better than them as he just kind of shows up and the she runs away crying. He doesn’t even say anything; he’s just on his horse looking dumb.
We now have a princess whom everyone hates because they’ve all of a sudden realized that she was a brat and she hurt their feelings. What does she do? She finds a little house in the woods, breaks in, eats their food then falls asleep on their beds. Seriously, what kind of person does that? I can understand the breaking and entering part; she’s looking for people but who walks into the house of someone they don’t know, smells their food cooking and decides, “Hmm, I’m going to help myself to their stuff.” It confirms that there are people living in the house so why would you touch anything? Anyway from here the dwarves find her, decide they want to help her, because apparently they are the only good people in the entire movie and after making her do some actual work and help people she decides she wants to be just like her mom… again… and opens a help shop, helping people until Sir Peter comes and finds her to bring her back to stop the wedding where she does very little other than say she’s sorry for being a brat and then they dance after breaking the magic mirror and revealing the villain as a homely woman with a big nose. Exciting, right?
And thus we’ve come to the moral of the story. What they’ve been trying so very hard to sell us this whole time is that true beauty comes from helping people. This is incorrect. True beauty comes from within, yes, but not from helping people specifically. You can help people all you want and still be a complete douche bag. Take Sir Peter, for example. He helps people and he’s still an asshole. He doesn’t help Snow White when she’s in trouble, he snubs her and turns on her like everyone else… or at least we assume he does. Again, not a whole lot of character development. They are trying to tell us that helping people makes you beautiful when in fact it’s just a byproduct of the real cause. Yes, helping people is good, and yes small children aren’t really going to be able to tell the difference between beauty coming from within or helping people but that’s kind of the point. It’s misleading and it’s liable to lead to some sorely mistaken young people.
In conclusion, this movie sucked. There was next to no plot, the villain was half-assed, the hero was a brat, the lead male was a prick and it disgraced the first movie by association. They took a word that had so much potential and pretty much screwed it over with an attempt at making a kid friendly movie. Seriously, our children are not that dumb. Leave the teaching to the parents and PBS kids, please. They know how to do it right.