Happily Ever After (1993 film)
|Happily Ever After|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Howley|
|Produced by||Lou Scheimer|
|Written by||Robby London
|Music by||Frank Becker|
|Edited by||Joe Gall
Jeffrey C. Patch
Kel Air Productions
|Distributed by||First National Film Corp.|
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 1993 American animated 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 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. But the Queen's equally evil wizard brother, Lord Maliss, comes to her castle, where he learns of his sister's demise and vows to avenge her death. He transforms into a dragon and attacks Snow White and the Prince as they travel to the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs. He kidnaps the Prince, but Snow White manages to flee.
Snow White reaches the cottage and meets the Dwarfs' female cousins, the Seven "Dwarfelles": Muddy, Sunburn, Blossom, Marina, Critterina, Moonbeam, and Thunderella. The Dwarfs have left the cottage, 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 mastering her powers, and accuses the other Dwarfelles of improperly using their powers. Lord Maliss, in his dragon form, attacks them but Mother Nature shoots him with lightning, causing him to crash and return to his human form. Before leaving, Lord Maliss tells Snow White that the Prince is held 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 successfully capturing Snow White 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 takes her through a secret passage to supposedly escape. The Prince is actually Lord Maliss in disguise, and attempts to throw a magic red cloak on Snow White in order to petrify her into stone. He almost succeeds, but is attacked by the "Shadow Man." The Dwarfelles arrive and attack Lord Maliss but fail and become petrified themselves. The last to be unharmed is Thunderella, who finally regains control of her powers and assists Snow White subdue Lord Maliss. The cloak is thrown on him, and Lord Maliss is petrified in mid-transition between his human and dragon forms.
As the sun shines onto the castle, Snow White mourns the "Shadow Man" until Mother Nature arrives. The "Shadow Man" actually turns out to be the Prince, having been transformed into that form by Lord Maliss, and he is restored to his normal form. Mother Nature states that the Dwarfelles have proven themselves, and are permitted to attend Snow White's wedding. Snow White and the Prince are reunited, and begin to live happily ever after.
- Irene Cara as Snow White
- Malcolm McDowell as Lord Maliss, the now-dead wicked Queen's vengeful brother.
- Phyllis Diller as Mother Nature
- Michael Horton as The Prince
- Dom DeLuise as the Looking Glass
- Carol Channing as Muddy: a Dwarfelle who has power over the earth.
- 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
- Sally Kellerman as Sunburn: a Dwarfelle who has power over sunlight.
- Tracey Ullman as Moonbeam, a Dwarfelle who has power over the night, and Thunderella, a Dwarfelle who has power over the weather.
- Frank Welker as Batso the Bat
- Edward Asner as Scowl the Owl
- "Thunderella's Song"
- "The Baddest"
- "Mother Nature's Song"
- "Love is the Reason"
- Music and lyrics by: John Lewis Parker
- Performed by: 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 First 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. First 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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