Happily Ever After (1990 film)
|Happily Ever After|
Original film poster
|Directed by||John Howley|
|Produced by||Lou Scheimer|
|Music by||Frank Becker|
|Distributed by||1st National Film Corp.|
|Box office||$3.3 million|
Happily Ever After (also known as Snow White in the Land of Doom, Snow White: Happily Ever After and Happily Ever After: Snow White's Greatest Adventure) is a 1990 American animated musical fantasy film written by Robby London and Martha Moran, and directed by John Howley. The film stars Irene Cara, Malcolm McDowell, Edward Asner, Carol Channing, Dom DeLuise and Phyllis Diller. Its story is a continuation of the fairy tale "Snow White", wherein the titular heroine and the Prince are about to be married, but the late evil Queen's brother Lord Maliss appears to seek revenge upon them. The film replaces the Dwarfs with their female cousins, called the Dwarfelles.
Happily Ever After is unrelated to Filmation's fellow A Snow White Christmas, a television animated film that was the company's earlier Snow White sequel. It was troubled by severe legal problems with The Walt Disney Company, and had a poor financial and critical reception, resulting in the bankruptcy of Filmation. A video game adaptation was released in 1994.
The film starts as the Looking Glass recaps the story of "Snow White." The wicked Queen has been vanquished and the kingdom is at peace as Snow White and the Prince prepare to marry. Meanwhile, back at the castle, the Queen's animal like minions are celebrating their freedom by throwing a party for themselves. Then, the Queen's equally evil wizard brother, Lord Maliss, arrives at the castle, wondering where his sister is. After learning about his sister's demise, he vows to avenge her death. In the process, he transforms into a wyvern and decides to take control of the palace, while Scowl, (a red colored owl) starts training his companion, a purple bat named Batso, on how to be evil.
The next day, Snow White and the Prince are in the meadow picking flowers for their wedding, when suddenly Lord Maliss, in his dragon form, begins attacking Snow White and the Prince as they are traveling to the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs. He targets the Prince, but Snow White manages to flee.
Snow White reaches the cottage and meets the Dwarves' female cousins, the Seven "Dwarfelles": Muddy, Sunburn, Blossom, Marina, Critterina, Moonbeam, and Thunderella. The Dwarves have left the cottage after they bought another mine in a different kingdom, but the Dwarfelles gladly assist Snow White, taking her to visit Mother Nature at Rainbow Falls. Mother Nature has given the Dwarfelles individual powers to assist her; she holds Thunderella accountable for not being able to master her powers correctly, and accuses the other Dwarfelles of improperly using their powers, and threatens to take them away as punishment. Lord Maliss attacks them, but Mother Nature shoots him with lightning, causing him to crash and return to his human form. Before leaving, Lord Maliss informs Snow White that the Prince is held captive in his castle.
Snow White and the Dwarfelles travel to Lord Maliss' castle in the Realm of Doom, along the way encountering a strange cloaked humanoid known as the "Shadow Man." Lord Maliss sends his one-horned wolves after the group, and they manage to escape with the help of the "Shadow Man." Lord Maliss is furious at this failure and transforms into his dragon form, finally capturing Snow White successfully himself and taking her to the castle. The Dwarfelles follow them and sneak into the castle as well.
In the castle, Snow White is reunited with her Prince, who begins exhibiting strange behaviors, and takes her through a secret passage to supposedly escape. When Snow White realizes that he's not the real Prince but is actually Lord Maliss in disguise, he attempts to throw a magical red cloak on Snow White to petrify her into stone. He almost succeeds, but is attacked by the "Shadow Man." The Dwarfelles arrive and attack Lord Maliss as well, but fail and become petrified themselves. The only one unharmed is Thunderella, who finally regains control of her powers and assists Snow White to subdue Lord Maliss. The cloak is thrown on him and Lord Maliss is petrified in mid-transition between his human and dragon form.
As the sun shines onto the castle, the Dwarfelles are restored back to their normal selves. Snow White tearfully mourns the "Shadow Man", believing that she lost both him and her Prince, until Mother Nature arrives at the scene. Suddenly, the "Shadow Man" wakes up and he turns out to be the Prince; as he is waking up he begins comforting Snow White, telling her not to cry, and she notices that he is back to his normal self. The Prince reveals that Lord Maliss had cast a spell on him and he has been watching over Snow White during her journey, guarding her with his life.
Mother Nature decides to let the Dwarfelles keep their powers because they have finally proven themselves by working together as one, and she allows them to attend Snow White's wedding. In the end, Mother Nature takes in Batso and Scowl to be trained as her new apprentices. Snow White and the Prince are reunited, as the two of them share a kiss, and begin to live happily ever after.
- Irene Cara as Snow White, the beautiful princess who defeated The Wicked Queen. She is now engaged to The Prince.
- Malcolm McDowell as Lord Maliss, the now-dead wicked Queen's vengeful brother.
- Phyllis Diller as Mother Nature, a comedic woman who controls nature. She gave The Seven Dwarfelles their powers.
- Michael Horton as The Prince, Snow White's fiance who is kidnapped by Lord Maliss.
- Dom DeLuise as the Looking Glass, a smart allelic mirror who does the bidding of Lord Maliss.
- Carol Channing as Muddy: a Dwarfelle who has power over the earth and the bossy leader of The Seven Dwarfelles.
- Zsa Zsa Gabor as Blossom: a Dwarfelle who has power over plants and flowers.
- Linda Gary as Marina and Critterina: Marina is a Dwarfelle who has power over all lakes and rivers. Critterina is a Dwarfelle who has power over animals.
- Jonathan Harris as the Sunflower, Mother Nature's rude assistant.
- Sally Kellerman as Sunburn: a Dwarfelle who has power over sunlight and a foul temper.
- Tracey Ullman as Moonbeam, a Dwarfelle who has power over the night; according to Muddy she is not herself during the daytime causing her to sleepwalk, and Thunderella, a Dwarfelle who has power over the weather including thunder and lightning.
- Frank Welker as Batso the Bat, a timid bat who is Scowl's best friend. He also provided the uncredited vocal effects of Lord Maliss' dragon form and Mallis' one-horned wolves.
- Edward Asner as Scowl the Owl, a sarcastic owl who enjoys smoking and is Batso's best friend. Scowl tries to impress Lord Maliss by capturing Snow White. A running gag throughout the movie is Scowl hooting while his head spins whenever he gets mad.
- "The Baddest" (music: Ashley Hall, lyrics: Stephanie Tyrell) - Edward Asner
- "Thunderella's Song" (music: Richard Kerr, lyrics: Stephanie Tyrell) - Tracey Ullman
- "Mother Nature's Song" (music: Barry Mann, lyrics: Stephanie Tyrell) - Phyllis Diller
- "Love is the Reason" (music and lyrics: John Lewis Parker) - Irene Cara
Filmation had previously developed a plan to create a series of direct-to-video sequels to popular Disney motion pictures, but only this film and Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night were ever completed. The film was eventually released during the same summer that Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was re-released theatrically. Sued by The Walt Disney Company in 1987, Filmation promised their characters would not resemble the ones from the Disney version. It was also the reason Filmation changed the title of the film from the original Snow White in the Land of Doom to Happily Ever After.
Happily Ever After was originally supposed to be a 1990 release in the United States. While it received a 1990 theatrical release in France, it was not released to theaters in the United States until May 28, 1993. when it took only $1.76 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend preceded by a $10 million advertising campaign from the distributor 1st National Film Corp. The distributor tried to popularize it by creating and selling dragon stickers as well as Seven Dwarfelle dolls; it also gained a commercial tie-in with Chiquita bananas. 1st National's bankruptcy followed just weeks after the film's failed premiere.
Despite a substantial advertising campaign and having been expected to become "one of the biggest hits of the year," Happily Ever After did poorly in the box office during its theatrical run. Its domestic gross was only $3,299,382.
Critics generally disliked the film. According to Stephen Holden of The New York Times, "visually, Happily Ever After is mundane. The animation is jumpy, the settings flat, the colors pretty but less than enchanting. The movie's strongest element is its storytelling, which is not only imaginative but also clear and smoothly paced." Kevin Thomas of Los Angeles Times opined the characters (especially the Prince) were "bland" and called the film's songs "instantly forgettable." Rita Kemple of The Washington Post derided the "inane" humor attempts as well as "badly drawn characters" and their "clumsy" animation. Steve Daly of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a score of F and recommended to "give this Snow White the big kiss-off." Chicago Tribune's Mark Caro wrote that the comparison with Disney's classic Snow White "couldn't be more brutal."
Some other reviews were more positive. Jeff Shannon of Seattle Times opined "this one's a cut above in the animation contest, deserving attention in the once-exclusive realm of Disney and Don Bluth. It almost, but not quite, escapes those nagging comparisons." Ralph Novak of People wrote that although "the animation is less sophisticated than the Disney standard," the story "moves nicely, though," with a "colorful" cast of voices. Candice Russell of Sun-Sentinel called it "a sweet and likable film," crediting a screenplay "that avoids cuteness and sentimentality and remembers that kiddie fare is fun" and "a few charming songs adding to the merriment."
An unreleased Nintendo Entertainment System video game was planned in 1990. A Sega game was also considered in 1993. An eventual Super Nintendo Entertainment System version was developed by ASC Games and released by Imagitec Design four years later (and one year after the film's release) in 1994.
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