"That's a nice-a donut."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hoodwinked (2006)

In the now oversaturated world of CGI animated movies, the concept of Hoodwinked seemed like a good idea. It offered a fresh take on the classic children's story, Little Red Riding Hood. Though there are a number of slight variations, the typical story is a straightforward fairy tale - where a little girl named Red journeys through the woods to her grandmother's house only to find that the grandmother has been eaten by the Big Bad Wolf, who is waiting for Red in disguise (followed by a happy ending, of course).

Instead, in Hoodwinked, after Red stumbles upon the Wolf in Granny's bed they have a skirmish, the police show up and by way of police interviews we get four Rashomon-style flashbacks of the days events. Namely, was there more to the wolf incident then it might originally appear? It is an obvious, but fascinating, twist that hints that adults (and not just kids) will be able to enjoy the tale. There are a few other innovative details that are thrown in along the way, such as a cable car in the middle of the forest. And some of the fast-talking wit, mainly from Red (voiced by Anne Hathaway) and Wolf (Patrick Warburton) - who are by far the best characters - is also amusing, and generally suitable for children and parents.

But that is where the originality and promise ends. There are several occasional musical interludes that are wholly unnecessary, distracting, and ill-fitting for the story. And the woodsman character is a complete waste, other than for a couple cheap laughs, perhaps because the filmmaker's couldn't come up with anyone or anything more interesting. I also wasn't terribly fond of the gen-X take on Granny (Glenn Close).

Hoodwinked could have, and should have, been reduced from its already short 80 minute running time. Heck, it would have even worked as a 22-24 minute tale, such as in a Looney Tunes-style series as a one-shot. Or at the very least, simply give us the four stories (with some edits) and do away with most of the other junk. Because unfortunately, after the fourth tale, we still a good half hour left, and this time drags along into a barren story wasteland. Sure, the animation is low budget, and it shows in the simple style, but this doesn't impact the film in a negative or positive way. What does hurt is the complete lack of a fun or worthwhile story. It seemed like a good idea. But you're better off just opening up your old book of fairy tales and reading instead.

The Verdict: C.


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