Happily N'Ever After

Opens at Bellevue Galleria and other theaters, Fri., Jan. 5. Rated PG. 87 minutes.

With shtick as dull as it is ill natured, this appallingly dumb and tasteless inversion of the Cinderella story features the voice of Sigourney Weaver as a generically shrieky wicked stepmother who discovers she can tinker with fairy-tale endings, notably that of Cinders (Sarah Michelle Gellar), who sports a short black Audrey Hepburn 'do and a mistaken crush on a narcissistic prince (Patrick Warburton) brazenly ripped off from Beauty and the Beast's Gaston. Remember those fabulously giddy bits in Shrek that riffed on just about every fairy-tale character known to Western man? Well, here, director Paul J. Bolger and screenwriter Rob Moreland have drained the affectionate wit out of the Shrek franchise's satire, giving us instead a barely sketched-out story line involving an inept fairy godmother, a sulky dishwasher (Freddie Prinze Jr.) headed straight for love interest, two run-of-the-mill critters with little to do but try to seize the attention of the under-5s by force, and quantities of unimaginative CGI. I spent the movie scratching my head over which audience Lionsgate is hoping to tap with this noisy rubbish. YouTubers? Tots with ADD? ELLA TAYLOR

 
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