Red Riding Hood Returns in Hoodwinked Too!
- Christian Hamaker Contributing Film and Culture Writer
- 2011 29 Apr
DVD Release Date: August 16, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: April 29, 2011
Rating: PG (for some mild rude humor, language and action)
Genre: Comedy, Animation, Family
Run Time: 88 min.
Director: Mike Disa
Actors: Voices of Hayden Panettiere, Glenn Close, Patrick Warburton, Joan Cusack, Cheech Marin, Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Cory Edwards, David Ogden Stiers
For the animated-film audience, it always seems to be feast or famine.
Through the 1980s and ’90s, Disney would open its latest animated movie head-to-head against another animated title. That business tactic was ruthless but effective: Disney’s films were usually superior, and given a choice, audiences flocked to films with the Disney brand over those from lesser-known competitors like Don Bluth (All Dogs Go to Heaven, An American Tail).
It was a turf war, with the well-established Disney trying to knock off any potential rivals before they could establish a foothold in catering to the same audience. With animated films costly to make, Disney knew that an expensive failure had the potential to sink a studio. But that didn’t stop potential competitors from churning out animated films, hoping to reap the significant upside to a successful animated family film being a huge theatrical, home-video and other ancillary profits for years.
As studios found success in the animation game, family-friendly films began to proliferate—and so did the release dates. No longer did such films open only on select summer or holiday weekends. Instead, studios began to spread their titles across the calendar as they discovered that the intended audience could turn well-made films into huge hits at any point during the calendar year.
That strategy is evident again in 2011. Rango scored with audiences earlier in the year, and with Easter just behind us and spring break rolling out around the country, audiences have turned out for the latest animated offerings of Rio and Hop. Now The Weinstein Company is betting there’s enough demand for another animated title to join those recent releases: Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil.
An all-star cast lends its voices to this sequel to writer/director Cory Edwards’ 2005 surprising success story, Hoodwinked, which extended the story of Little Red Riding Hood. The film rode a wave of Shrek-powered goodwill toward stories that updated and winked at classic fairy tales. But three Shrek movies later, has that type of story run its course?
This time, Mike Disa has taken over as director, while Edwards is credited as co-writer of the script. He also still lends his voice to the character of Twitchy, the over-caffeinated squirrel from the first Hoodwinked and one of a number of returning characters for the sequel.
Those characters include Little Red (no longer voiced by Anne Hathaway; this time it’s Hayden Panetierre), a “Sister of the Hood” in training who is chosen by the Happily Ever After agency to find out what happened to Hansel and Gretel (Bill Hader and Amy Poehler). According to Granny Puckett (voice of Glenn Close), the rotund kids are “going to become baked goods any minute” at the hands of a witch (Joan Cusack), unless Red and Wolf (Patrick Warburton) can prevent it.
The attempts at humor come fast and furious, but don’t amount to much. That’s not for lack of effort. Edwards shares the screenwriting with Hoodwinked alums Todd Edwards and Tony Leech, and they bring a manic energy to the new screenplay. The problem is that Hoodwinked Too!, while not terribly offensive, isn’t very funny. The jokes rush by and rarely generate any laughs. The attempts at humor also often draw on subjects and pop-culture references that have entered the pop-culture lexicon but which originated in R-rated films like The Silence of the Lambs and Scarface. Those bizarre attempts at generating laughs for more mature viewers are distasteful and will mean little to the younger viewers sure to comprise a large part of the Hoodwinked Too! audience. The script’s nods to our culture’s emphasis on visuals over the printed word only underline the problems with Hoodwinked Too!, where the pointless 3D visual presentation matches the why-did-they-bother quality of the screenplay.
If that doesn’t sound like your idea of a fun time at the movies with the kids, then skip Hoodwinked Too! and read a good book. A classic fairy tale might do the trick.
- Language/Profanity: “doodie”; “stupid, meddling jerk-face”; “a big pile of number two”; “dammit”; jokes about passing gas; “oh, schnitzel.”
- Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: A wolf says, “I’ll be at the bar.”
- Sex/Nudity: None, although two female squirrels are shown leaving a male squirrel’s home.
- Violence/Crime: Fairy-tale violence includes Hansel and Gretel characters being threatened by a witch who wears a mask with glowing red eyes; she says “chicken tastes just like children”; a large troll menaces Red; Granny is kidnapped; a large, scary spider; a character is swatted across the room; jokes comparing a character to a mobster; a threat to “grind up [one’s] bones”; a spoof of Hannibal Lecter character from Silence of the Lambs; Red tugs hard on a rabbit’s ears; three pigs go on violent spree; massive explosions; collision with a train.
- Religion: A character says, “Dog is your co-pilot”; troll says, “I’m coming to the light, mama”; Little Red is said to be “finding her true path”; characters chant, “We’re evil!”; a characters says, “I don’t deserve to be saved” but is told, “You can always come back.”
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