DreamWork's Hansel and Gretel

A formal gentleman enters a room with a lit fireplace, a book in one hand and reading glasses in the other, and seated himself in the chair at its center. A familiar image. He cracks open the book, its pages few but content infinite, and allowed the glow to lend itself onto the pages. He places his glasses on, about to start, when he looks up at you.

“Oh, hello. Frightfully sorry, I didn’t hear you come in. Oh no no no- welcome! I was uh, just about to read this story aloud, as I do. This week I’ve chosen to reiterate a classic, a little fairy tale. I’m certain you’ve heard it. What was that you said? Too old?! Poppycock! Was your childhood a packet of misery and woe? When Bambi’s mother dies, do you scoff? When Simba’s father falls off the cliff, do you not weep? Listen, here’s a little something you need to know about fairytales: they are INSANE. I mean, if you thought it the witch falling in the oven was hardcore, me oh my, you haven’t witnessed anything. I’m talking rated R Happy Tree Friends messed up! That doesn’t seem dated to me. Well, no matter. Those aren’t the kind we’re speaking of today. It’s "Hansel and Gretel". HEY! Get back here! Okay, I understand that tastes change as one grows older and I don’t mean get on the ‘you kids today’ soapbox, but those tastes become old as well, don’t they? These tales become so simple they transcend date. If we lose our passion for our simple stories, we lose the spark to our simple souls! Now that I’m assured you have at least a scrap of humanity, I shall begin.”

He cleared his throat. “Once upon a time there lived two siblings, one Hansel and the other Gretel. They traveled the forest with their father and evil stepmother to chop wood when they became lost. Hansel was smart enough to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to lead the way home, but the animals devoured it. Hope for them was running out until they stumbled upon a house made out of-”

“...an’ once this gets big enough to wrangle up a sequel we gotta grab somebody smaller. Who’s the wave washin’ up for us?” Two men walked in the room. One dawned a fedora, suspenders, and spoke in a strange Brooklyn-ish 1920’s-esque accent. The other which followed behind the first was trimmed and tapped on an ipad with each word.

“Michel Cera hasn’t done anything big in a while.” said the second man.

“Close, but I’d prefer a comedian.”

“George Lopez?”

“Didn't his career go in a coma after 'Smurfs'?”

“What about Gabriel Iglesias? He could be a fluffy cat?”

“Eh, he’ll have ta do.”

“Excuse me?” The Narrator inquired, “I don’t intend to interrupt, but you’re both intruding-”

“An’ put out that fire, will ya? It’s a hazard.”
His partner quickly grabbed a conveniently placed bucket of water and tossed it over the fire. The darkness was subsequently replaced by a bright artificial light from above. This caused the to Narrator spring from his chair.

“What is the purpose of-”

“Cause that’s just what I need, a spark scorchin' my rental.”


The man in the fedora grabbed the Narrator’s hand. “Ain’t it a pleasure! Course it is. I’m one of the directors over at DreamWorks Animation. My name is-” The one standing behind the Director cleared his throat, “Oh, and this is one of our higher ups. Sorta like our man behind the curtain, if you will. He’s gonna run through everything and give the okay on what we do.”

“Alan Smithee, the one and only!” He moved forward and shook the Narrator’s hand as well. “We wanna turn this little tale into a big picture!”

The Narrator pulled his hand away, nodding slowly. “Oh, yes. Aren’t you the gentlemen who made that one 'Ten Commandments' movie some time ago? 'Prince of Egypt'?”

The Director turned to Alan Smithee. “Oh yeah, we did, didn’ we?” he shrugged. “But we’re aspiring to somethin’ different this time. It’ll be for everyone.”

“Enough to market. Like on a billboard.” Smithee was sure to include.

“Yeah, an’ everybody on that billboard’s got one eyebrow raised, like they’re inviting you on the adventure!”

“As well as the whole family! It’ll be animated, so naturally it has to be kid-oriented.”

“But we wanna be inclusive so we’ll throw in a couple subtle jokes for the mom’s and daddy’s!”

“We’ll get the best animators in town, with all the biggest celebs!”

“It’ll be modern an’ edgy!”

“When in vain, turn to public domain!”

The Narrator momentarily pondered on that. “Hm, well I suppose animated fairytale films have succeeded in the past.”

“Hey! I was hoping we’d get a supporter!” Alan Smithee cried. He turned to the Director. “Didn’t I tell you?”

“Sure did.”

“But here’s the thing, we’re considering taking a different approach this time around.”

The Narrator raised an eyebrow at Smithee. “How so?”

“Well, as you mentioned this has been done several times before. We’re just a tad concerned how a little fairytale will fill a movie. But naturally we’ll have to add or subtract a few things-”

“Such as?”

“Oh, not much at all! Just some eye-catchers. It needs a little freshening up, you catch what I’m sayin’? So, um, to start off, we’re setting it in modern day.”

“Excuse me?!”

The Director stepped in front of Smithee “Don’t look so blue, we've already made a movie ‘bout that. Listen, people have been tellin’ us the jokes in our movies are too modern for the times they're set in. So we’re gonna fix that by puttin’ it into context. An’ ‘sides, it’ll put a new spin on things! Every fairytale is this old long time ago far far away hooey that we’ve all seen over and over again, so we’ll be innovative! Times are a-changin’! The old stuff’s not bad, just a tad outdated, that’s all. I mean, you wouldn’t eat a Pop-Tart past its expiration date, right?”

“But this is not a Pop-Tart! It’s a classic!”

“Which reminds me, I admire the get-up you got goin’ here, smooth talkin’ grandpa n’ all, but you’re not Morgan Freeman and there ain’t no penguins here.”

“That can be arranged!” Smithee cried.

The Director snapped his fingers. “Save that for later and get him outta here. And bring the kiddies in while you’re at it.”

With movements as swift as a cartoon’s Smithee dashed in and out with a wheelbarrow and rolled the Narrator out.

“You can’t do this! Don’t you realize you’re besmirching the name?! BESMIRCHING I SAY!”

As the Narrator was wheeled out, the storybook fell from his hands. The Director moved over to pick it up. Just as he began to flip through the pages a young boy and girl walked out with Smithee. They wore clothes fashioned from an earlier time. The younger girl hung close to the taller and older boy with similar hair to hers.

“Well, ain’t you two the darndest things?” said the Director. “Me and my assistant over there came all the way here from DreamWorks.”

“Wow! Aren’t you the guys who did 'Road to El Dorado'?” said Hansel

“And that one horse movie?”Gretel asked in a soft tone.

“We did?” The Director asked.

Smithee hastily tapped on his ipad. “Apparently.”

“You don’t say?”

“Are we finally getting a movie deal?” Hansel asked, “Cause we’ve just been sort of hanging around while everyone else has been getting the spotlight. We were starting to think we were getting snubbed. And while we’re at it, we’ve got a friend named Red that’s been waiting-”

“Okay, well, we’ll get ta dat.” said the Director, “Listen, we’re gonna make a big-budget movie outta you’s two, but we gotta make some changes n’ I wanted to run it by first. Ya see, fairytales like you two have been around so long and done so many times that anyone who hears the title knows the story instantly. Something stayin’ with you that long, dat’s what success is. But, y’know, with it bein’ done so many times already there really is no original version and each time they get even better. That’s why this needs to be rebooted, so we can prove just how silly those other ones were. It’ll take alotta money to make, so I wanted to go through the basics with you two before we got started. To start with, it’s gonna be animated-”

“Like Disney?!” Gretel squealed.

Smithee’s smile tightened. “Close. It’ll be computer generated.”

“Like 'Bugs Life'?”

“You’re pushin’ it, cutie.” He took the book from the Director. “So it starts off when you guys get lost in the forest?”

“Well, it started when my sister and I were in the woods with our dad and stepmom-”

“Why a stepmom of all things?” The Director asked.

Hansel shrugged. “I can’t answer that.”

“Isn’t the stepmom supposed to be the witch all along or something?” Smithee asked.

“I didn’ know that.” said the Director.

“It’s cause princesses always have evil stepmothers!” Gretel called, suddenly enthusiastic. “If it’s CGI I’ll be like Rapunzel and Fiona and that one candy-glitch!”

“Unless you go 'The Black Cauldron' route.” said the Director.

“The what?” asked Hansel.


Hansel shook his head. “Gretel, you’re not a princess.”

“Then I’ll be like Mulan and Alice and have my own line of products without a royal background!”

“That’s the spirit!” The Director snatched the book back from Smithee to go through the pages. “So what next?”

“Um, we left a trail of breadcrumbs behind to not lose our way, but the animals ate it. We find this house made of candy-”

“Candy won’t fly.” Smithee interjected.

Hansel was puzzled. “Why?”

“Promotes obesity.”

“But maybe-”

“You heard the man! Promotes obesity!” The Director snapped.

“And that’s just what I need, parents rapping on my door over their escapades to Applebee’s.” Smithee lightly rubbed his temples. “At least we could get something out of the animals.”

“Movin’ on. You say you’re poor, right? What’s the modernization of that? The hood?”

“Um, I don’t think-”

“Nah, you’re right.” The Director said, interrupting Hansel again, “Too controversial.”

“And that’s just what I need a lawsuit from the Bronx at my door.”

“Orphans are more sympathetic anyway. The breadcrumbs are cute, but modernization gives us opportunities. Drop Rice-Krispee Treats ™”

“That doesn’t sound-”
“What? You want Snickers ™, kid? Anything but Reece’s-Pieces. ET’s got dibs.”

“We don’t care, but if the story is already so popular, won’t people go anyway?”

Smithee leaned close to his associate. “Hey, listen, speakin’ of popularity, statistics say kids like McDonald’s, right?”


“Yeah! We can use this opportunity to make a parody!” cried the Director, “You’s guys skippin’ along when BAM! A McDonald’s smack-dab in the middle of the woods.”

“Nevermind, I take it back. Why is there a McDonald’s in the woods?”

“I don’t know! Dat’s the mystery! There’s nobody there to tell ya why! An empty McDonalds, now that’s frightening! Can we do that, Smithee?! Huh, huh?! Can we please be funny?” The Director clasped his hands together, practically begging.

Smithee caught onto this. “Hm, I’m not sure. There’s no way we’re getting the McDonald’s copyright.”

“Then we’ll change it! Dat’s why it’s a parody! We’ll call it McDenny’s! It’ll be funny!”
“Well, I suppose we would make a good toy deal out of it.”

“But you just said-”

“Huzah!” The Director shouted triumphantly over Hansel, “So what next?”


“In the story! Get with the program, kid!”

“Oh, uh…”

“The witch!” Gretel called, “She’s all ugly and mean and GRRRRR!”

“Right, she turned her house into sweets to fatten up and eat kids.”

“For Shrek’s sake, kids are watching this!” Smithee cried, “Besides, can’t do that. Promotes cannibalism.”

“Well, alright, how bout we scrap the stepmother? It’s been done. Y’know what’s funny? An evil McDenny’s employee! He’s fed up with the system so he hides McDenny’s in the forest to take passerby’s hostage! Somebody get Jim Carey on the phone!”

“Is this the same story?”Hansel asked Gretel.

“What color do you think my dress should be? All the good ones are taken.”

The Director returned to flipping throughout the book. “This is great! Now all we need is a big-bang ending!”
“Why do I even try? You just keep inter-”

“C’mon kid! Where’s your fun? When people hear ‘bout this theaters’ll be so packed they’ll need binoculars to see! We just need a big-bang ending the families will be satisfied with before their trips to McDonalds and/or Denny’s! So whatdoya got?”

“Gretel shoves the witch in the oven and we escape.”
The Director’s face stiffened. The corner of his mouth twitched and his fingers curled to fists. Smithee merely shook his head.

“Kid, you want me sued.”

“No, we-”

“Well you’re trying hard! And that’s what I need, kids cookin’ their parents when the cookies run out!”

“That’s not our fault! It was written that wa-”

“Okay, since you’re refusing to cooperate, I’m forced take this upon myself. Recap. You’re orphans tra-la-la-ing when you get lost. You left behind Rice-Krispees but your lovable companion Squirrely Squirrelington, the Squirrel, ate them. But that’s okay, because you find a McDenny’s. It’s empty as an indie movie crowd accept for the cashier. He’s wildly hilarious at first, but he wants to take over the world. Squirrely finds a bag-o-magic and turns him into a frog. You leave and learn a lesson, happily ever after, yadda yadda. Everyone sees it, bada bing, sequels, more bada bing. Great! Done! Here’s your motivations. Gretel, you’re cute.”

“…That’s it?”

“Yep. Then everyone will quote you and we can make t-shirts.”


“No-help-Hansel? When somethin’ weird comes up you go ‘wow’. I think we’ve got a spare hoodie from our last flick.”

“You’re kidding.”

“We’re gonna be a movie!” Gretel skipped off. Hansel merely sighed as Smithee patted him on the back.

“Sorry kid, but to win the game, you’ve gotta play by the rules. And of course someone will like it. And if they don’t, well, 'Citizen Kane' got booed at the Oscars.”

“Right! And after all this we’ll make a sequel where they’re older and they have to go back for revenge! It’ll be like that one 'Brother’s Grimm' flick from a while back, only better!” The Director’s head suddenly snapped up and he viewed his surroundings. “Wasn’t there somebody besides us here before?”

Smithee shrugged.

They left, and lights of every kind shut off.

Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

SummerIndigo said...
Jun. 29, 2013 at 3:19 pm
This is hilarious! And so, so true, in a twisted way...I love how the Director is always trying to be politically correct. However, I feel like it's got too much dialogue and not enough description. And as I was reading it, I thought, "Hey, this would make a great skit!" It would be super easy to make into a script. But if you decide against that, just add in more description and details besides the dialogue. Oh yeah, and there are a few minor spelling/grammar mistakes. Other than that, great job!
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