Rating: 3 out of 5
The creative team behind Hoodwinked received their diplomas from the Shrek school of satirical animation. Not that the ornery ogre's odyssey was the first feature to wed sarcasm to traditional storybook verses, but it did raise the bar against which all other animated adventures will be measured.
In updating the Little Red Riding Hood legend, writer/directors Cory Edwards, Tony Leech, and Todd Edwards found a fairy tale with ample room left to explore. We all know what happened when Red (Anne Hathaway) trekked through the forest to visit her grandma (Glenn Close). The big, bad wolf (Patrick Warburton) waited patiently under the sheets, barely masking a nose to smell with, those ears to hear with, and a set of choppers with which to eat.
But what went down next? Hoodwinked begins after the wooly woodsman (James Belushi) bursts through Grandma's window ready to take an axe to Mr. Wolf. The home becomes an instant crime scene - the better to investigate you with, my dear - where Chief Grizzly (Xzibit) strives to get to the bottom of the situation.
You see, there's a twist. Prior to Red's visit, a goodie bandit had been plucking popular recipes for tasty sweets from forest dwellers. The case attracts Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), a Colombo-inspired inquisitor who grills the four suspects found at Grandma's house - Red, the Wolf, granny, and the lumberjack - and hears four wildly different accounts of the evening's proceedings.
The Hoodwinked screenplay packs plenty of self-aware one-liners aimed at parents - unless your child is perceptive enough to pick up not-so-obvious Star Wars references and slightly modified Wizard of Oz quotes. It's clever and funny, though overly corny in spots (the word "schnitzel" ends up being a punch line in five or six different jokes).
The vocal talent ranges from the classically trained (Close and Ogden Stiers) to the amusingly inane (Anthony Anderson, Andy Dick). Warburton adds a smarmy confidence to the wolf, though it's the same lilt he lent to Superman in those American Express commercials with Jerry Seinfeld. Hathaway gives Red a gum-popping sense of impatience that wisely turns her heroine into a teenage mall rat.
And yet, there are plenty of places where Hoodwinked appears to be a decade behind the times. The animation style turns the characters, Red in particular, into waxy marionettes. A fight scene toward the end still borrows heavily from The Matrix. And the film's corny songs float in and out of our brains; original music by composer John Mark Painter suits the material without transcending it. These are sticking points that surface long after you've left the theater, though, and shouldn't bother you during the film's brief 80-minute run.
Nice hat, nice teeth!
Facts and Figures
Run time: 76 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 1st March 2006
Box Office Worldwide: $51.1M
Production compaines: The Weinstein Company, Kanbar Entertainment, Nlue Yonder Films
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Cast & Crew
Director: Todd Edwards, Tony Leech, Corey Edwards
Producer: Maurice Kanbar, Sue Bea Montgomery, Preston Stutzman
Screenwriter: Todd Edwards, Tony Leech, Corey Edwards
Starring: Anne Hathaway as Red (voice), Glenn Close as Granny (voice), James Belushi as The Woodsman (voice), Patrick Warburton as The Wolf (voice), Anthony Anderson as Detective Bill Stork (voice), David Ogden Stiers as Nicky Flippers (voice), Xzibit as Chief Grizzly (voice), Chazz Palminteri as Woolworth (voice), Andy Dick as Boingo (voice), Cory Edwards as Twitchy (voice), Benjy Gaither as Japeth the Goat (voice), Ken Marino as Raccoon Jerry (voice), Tom Kenny as Tommy (voice), Preston Stutzman as Timmy (voice), Tony Leech as Glen (voice), Kang Hye-jung as Red (Korean dubbing Voice)
Also starring: Jim Belushi