Everyone remembers the story of Cinderella, right? A plain Jane (voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar) who’s perpetually abused by her wicked stepmother (Sigourney Weaver)? She meets a prince and loses a shoe? Apparently, since most five-year-olds are now too busy downloading Pixar films onto their iPods, they don’t have time to watch a straightforward rendition of a fairy tale. And so animated bedtime stories have to be self-conscious and full of contemporary pop-cultural references (thanks a lot, ‘Shrek’). These revisionist toons should also be semi-watchable, however, a modest goal that is way beyond this plasticine product’s grasp. You expect a certain amount of sugar and snark in a modern children’s film, but this tossed-off retelling reeks of folks just out to make a cheap buck.
In Fairytaleland, Cinderella’s stepmother tries to put a stop to all happy endings. It’s up to Ella, a doting servant (Freddie Prinze Jr) and two wisecracking animals (Wallace Shawn and whiny Andy Dick, both phoning it in) to save the day. Quality-controlled this ain’t: The computerised animation is cut-rate; the script keeps piling on clunker jokes that even toddlers will find lame; and Prinze proves he isn’t any better an actor in two dimensions than he is in three. David Fear