Happily N’ever After

Inspired by the most beloved of fables, this animated feature is a satirical retelling of the classic story of Cinderella. Once upon a time in Fairy Tale Land, the age-old balance between good and evil has been thrown out of whack. Frieda, Cinderella’s power-mad stepmother (voiced by Sigourney Weaver), has formed an unholy alliance of evil to take on the good guys. With her own fairy tale spinning wildly out of control, Cinderella (voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar) is forced to shed her damsel-in-distress trappings in order to seize control of her own destiny and lead the resistance without her Prince Charming (Patrick Warburton). Ella, short for Cinderella, dreams of the Prince who will sweep her off her feet. Her best friend at the palace is Rick (voiced by Freddie Prinze), the palace dishwasher who takes it upon himself to deliver the invitations to the royal ball to Ella. Though she sees Rick only as a friend, the humble washer-upper secretly loves Ella, although he is too cool and proud to admit it. Rick’s Three Amigos, the comic chefs in the palace kitchen, believe that Rick has a bad case of ‘Prince envy’.

Happily N’Ever After is a plodding sort of film that will only attract the multitudes in August if our lousy weather continues. There are a few jokes that play to modern connections, but only a few in a script nowhere near the sharp smarts of The Simpsons or Toy Story. Unimaginative and without any of the Pixar whizzo special effects that are a vital necessity for kiddies nowadays, the story limps along with half-hearted characters and too many jokes that really don’t make it big in the belly laughs department.

A Million Dollar Porkie – The Hoax

In 1971, Clifford Irving achieved the heights of American journalism by nabbing a series of unprecedented interviews with the most famous man in the world – the ultra-reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes – revealing his most intimate memories and controversial secrets. Well, not really. Actually, Irving told one of the biggest whoppers in modern history. Claiming to have obtained Howard Hughes’ long sought-after memoirs, Irving pulled the wool over the entire publishing industry’s eyes, and nearly made off with major cash and worldwide fame, until his clever yarn unravelled. Director Lasse Hallström takes the reins of this riveting caper inspired by Irving’s untrue story. Jumping off from the still controversial facts surrounding Irving’s ruse into a fictional reverie, the film mischievously and imaginatively explores how a man, an industry and an entire nation could become intoxicated by a good story defiance of the fact that it never really happened.

Richard Gere takes on the roguish role of Irving, an ambitious yet struggling writer who’s been looking for that one big story for so long, he brazenly decides to make one up. At first the idea is just a savvy artistic prank, but if that’s what the world wants, Irving believes he can take it further. Shrouding himself in a clever cloud of secrecy, he drops the news to a major publisher that he has been approached by the one man the entire world most wants to know about – aviator, movie mogul, ladies man and eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes – to write his priceless biography. In1971, McGraw-Hill announced it had acquired for the then-immense sum of nearly a million dollars the rights to publish Howard Hughes’ memoir. This would have been the publishing coup of the century. There’s just one little problem: not a word of what Clifford is saying has an ounce of truth to it. He’s never so much as seen a glimpse of the real Howard Hughes.

But Irving banks on the idea that Hughes’ seclusion and notoriously thin hold on reality will allow the con to succeed. Hughes has not been seen or heard from in public for over a decade. He is a total recluse. Irving relies on this fact to protect his bogus story – as Hughes refuses to confirm or deny anything so prevalent is his fear of appearing in public. Recruiting his anxiety-prone but loyal best friend Dick Suskind (Alfred Molina) and artist wife (Marcia Gay Harden) into the scheme, Clifford soon finds himself in a wild maze of treachery, as he is forced to dodge the fallout of his falsehoods at every turn. What started as an adventurous lark soon turns into a seemingly inescapable maze of forgeries, thefts, tall tales, deceptions and impersonations. Clifford’s plan works like magic as his publishers, hungry for a bestseller at any cost, are hoodwinked by the thrill of it all. And when Clifford stumbles upon possible links between Hughes and a corrupt Nixon administration, the stakes for his book grow even higher. However, that’s exactly the moment the reclusive Hughes emerges from his stately isolation to pull the rug away.

Ultimately, Irving would be named Con Man of the Year by Time Magazine and would spend more than 2 years in jail, as would his researcher and collaborator Dick Suskind and his Swiss wife, who became his financial accomplice. When he got out, Irving wrote a different memoir, his own this time, and one purportedly more factual, recounting the behind-the-scenes details of creating the bogus autobiography, and called it The Hoax. A wonderfully paced film where Gere, long derided for his light-weight acting, gets under the skin of Irving to produce a complex and flawed character that’s hard not to like. Molina as his sidekick is excellent – as are Harden and Julie Delpy in the backup roles. In a month of sci-fi mayhem at the cinema, The Hoax is adult entertainment that really works.

For full story see The Munster Express newspaper or
subscribe to our Electronic edition.

Comments are closed.