Review by Rich Cline | 2/5

dir-scr Ross Venokur
prd John H Williams
voices Demi Lovato, Wilmer Valderrama, Sia, Nia Vardalos, Ashley Tisdale, Avril Lavigne, GEM, John Cleese, Jim Cummings, Tara Strong, Chris Harrison, Tom Kenny
release UK 2.Aug.19
18/Canada 1h25

lovato valderrama sia

lenny and philippe
There's some manic energy in this colourful animated romp, but writer-director Ross Venokur resists properly poking fun at the fairy tale genre, falling back on the tired "one true love" cliche even as he attempts to subvert gender stereotypes. The animation is witty and sometimes brightly eye-catching, and the voice work has some spark as well. But the goofy script and choppy action make it feel messy.
After becoming engaged to Cinderella (Tisdale), Snow White (Lavigne) and Sleeping Beauty (GEM), Prince Philippe (Valderrama) has no idea who to marry. Blame the evil Nemeny (Vardalos) who, feeling ignored by the King (Cummings), cursed his son to charm all women, causing endless heartbreak. Now Philippe has three days to break the spell on his 21st birthday, his wedding day, by kissing his true love. So the King sends him on an epic quest, and Philippe doesn't know that his guide Lenny (Lovato) is actually a disguised woman who's immune to his charms.
Yes, the plot is so painfully obvious that, despite continual obstacles and sideroads, there's never even a shadow of doubt about where this is heading. And the promise so takes for granted that there's one man for each woman that it can't play properly with its cross-dressing elements (there's even a painfully homophobic moment). In other words, the script sets out to have some fun with the hackneyed elements in fairy tales then ends up even more insultingly misogynist than the stories it's lampooning.

The animation is slightly shiny, revealing its sub-Disney budget, but at least the characters have amusing physicalities. The three princesses are basically Barbie dolls, and others have lanky physiques that allow limbs to flail at insane angles during action scenes. The vocal work is sharp and clean, with two small scene-stealing roles for Cleese. Lovato gives Lenny a feisty edge, while Valderrama adds a nutty Spanish flair to the whole movie. Sia's Half-Oracle character is easily the oddest character in an already bizarre film, and her big song is even odder.

There are a few more songs, as the casting of so many musicians would suggest, but none are remotely memorable. And the simplistic plot makes it unlikely that much of the film will linger for viewers. It's a shame that it's so bland, because the idea could have inspired a truly original twist on the genre. By playing it so safe, the filmmakers have made a movie that should keep kids quiet for 85 minutes, but they might not want to sit through it again.

cert pg themes, violence 29.Jul.19

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