It’s been five years since we have last heard or seen of Red and her amazing extreme-sports-loving Granny.
Back then, we’d just seen Hoodwinked and met the twenty-first century version of Little Red Riding Hood. And we soon realized, this isn’t your average, animated basket-toting girl next-door. With spunk and sass and whip-smart survival instincts, she wasn’t afraid to raise a karate kick nor join in the efforts to help find the mysterious goody bandit who was stealing recipes of local bakers and putting them out of business.
In Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil in 3D, Red is still alive and kicking but is now away in secret training with a mysterious group called the “Sisters of the Hood.” Meanwhile, back at the forest, the rest of her familiar friends (Nicky Flippers, Wolf, Twitchy and more) are holding down the fort at the Happily Ever After Agency (HEA).
But it’s “Code Red” when a wicked witch abducts two innocent children (Hansel and Gretel) and has them locked away in her gingerbread house. This is a case that only Red can handle, and the HEA needs her back. And fast!
Clever storytelling and fairy tale retelling that appeals to both adults and children is also embraced by Director Mike Disa who joins the Hoodwinked franchise this second time around. The twenty-year Hollywood veteran made his way to Tinsel Town via Chicago, where he grew up in a large Irish Catholic family and was once a record-holding Altar Boy at his church (he still holds the record as the Altar Boy to serve the most continuous Easter masses in a row).
Driving his grandfather’s beat-up Delta 88 and bringing along his portfolio and a conviction that digital filmmaking was the future, after college he made it to Hollywood and soon found work in video games and television before working his way into major animation studios.
We spoke recently about his latest animated accomplishment and why he strongly believes dads, moms, and kids of all ages will thoroughly enjoy Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil. He’s got his reasons …
10. More Bang for the Buck
Ever cooked a fabulous meal on a shoestring budget? Multiply that by a million and you might understand how it feels to make a great film at a reasonable price.
“I just got to work with a talented team of people I’d worked with on other films, other experienced animation filmmakers, to try to get the most out of the limited budget, because you know it’s a very small film compared to these big films that are coming out right now. [The goal] was to take a little bit of money and make it as big and as powerful and as spectacular a film about great characters—something that was funny and edge-of-your-seat spectacular—and do it on a reasonable budget. And I think we did.”
A good filmmaker respects his audience. Yes, he does. For without an audience, there would be no reason to Too! ...
“I think, and you’re going to think I’m being facetious, I think the secret is respect. I and the writers all assume that our audiences are smart people. And they don’t need to be pandered to, and they don’t need to be insulted and they don’t need to be talked down to. I don’t think you need to talk down to your audience, and I also don’t think that you need to just constantly throw ‘fart gags’ and biological humor at people because you’re afraid that they’re drifting off. Tell a real story about real people, be clever, let funny people be funny, let heroes be heroes, let villains be villains and you’ll have a great story. And then the rest of it is just hard work.”
8. The Greatest Story Ever Told
It all comes back to story, doesn’t it? Because if you don’t have something interesting to say, then well … zzzzzzz.
“I think what you do is you start with a good character who you care about: Red Riding Hood is a member of the [Happily Ever After Agency], her friends are members of the HEA. They’re actively engaged in the process of trying to do good, of trying to make the world a better place. And as you go through and tell their story, you do in such a way that your family would want to sit and watch the whole thing. I always say I’ve got a 72 year-old in my family and a six year-old in my family, and any film I make is going to have all of them laughing. Maybe not always at the same moment, but I want films that my whole family can enjoy together.”
7. You Gotta Have Friends
It’s hard enough out there being a single, basket-toting young lady wearing a hoodie. Community is where it’s at!
“You need your friends, you need your family, you need your church. And what I saw in Hoodwinked Too! was a great opportunity to explore that with Red and Granny. Granny’s a hard act to live up to. [Red’s] going to have to step up and fill some big shoes. And one of the nice things about this movie is that at the end of the film Red learns that she doesn’t have to do that alone. She not only has her friends, but she has that older generation to lean on. Again, these are good characters. They’re all heroes. They’re all accomplished. It’s not one of those films where all the adults are such idiots that the kids have to run around and do all the thinking. It’s a film for families, and families have smart people who are both old and young in them.”
6. Do a Do-Over
Forgiveness defined: for·give verb \fər-ˈgiv, fȯr-\transitive verb 1a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for
“It’s important in life. Nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes mistakes and without confession, forgiveness and redemption [then] what’s the point of struggling? The best way to make the world a better place, the best way to be a hero is to find someone who needs you and give them what they need, and usually it’s understanding and forgiveness. In this case, the villain of the film [SPOILER] is lost, and she needs the help of her friends and family to find her way. In a very strong, deliberate way it’s mirroring the growth of both Red and Wolf and all the members of the movie. It’s basically the same theme that you’ve got to let it go. You’ve got to move on. You’ve got to trust the people around you. You need to work together to make something grow.”
5. Girl Power!
A strong woman need not be feared. UNLESS she’s a motorcycle-packin’ Granny. Or a cape-wearing martial arts expert who now bungee jumps.
“I would say this: I get offered a lot of movies, a lot of scripts and I’m tired to death of animated films that are only about who a young girl’s going to date or marry. And as far as I know, the Hoodwinked adventures are the only movies out there in animated film with human heroines who aren’t just chasing after men. There’s a place for that—surely we’ve done it to death at this point. The modern American female has more to her life than just who she’s going to marry and the films—especially films we show our children—need to reflect that. But I wouldn’t have done the film if it didn’t have a strong theme of sisterhood and growth. And funny … it had to be funny.”
4. Panettiere Is the New Red
We loved you in the original, Anne Hathaway. But Hayden Panettiere’s doing a bang-up job following in your footsteps. And carrying that basket …
“Hayden is a joy to work with, and she’s a very, very charming, sweet, talented actress and her sweetness and her charm comes out even when she’s playing a tough character. She has a unique ability that a lot of actors don’t have to make a character, who’s in the process of doing a big heroic moment, charming. And she’s also very, very good with acting out the physical stuff. So it was great when we had the action scenes with Red. Hayden just got into it. She’s an action star, so she knows how to do all that stuff. And she sang that song in the middle of the movie [“I Can Do It Alone”]. She’s really an incredibly talented person.”
3. Winks and Nudges
Hey, that happened in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That looks like the scene from Mission Impossible. And that sounds a lot like Star Wars. What’s the big idea …
“Our film is very much layered. So while there’s stuff going on for the kids to enjoy, while there’s action and drama or great character moments, while there’s comedy and wit, there’s also this other level going on which if you notice that chunks of the film are shot like other movies. Sets are pulled from other movies. There are homages in there, and that’s because I’m a film fan and I know that my audience ... well, this isn’t the first film everybody’s seen. And why shouldn’t Mom and Dad chuckle at the fact that the gingerbread house where the witch lives is actually the house from Psycho? It doesn’t distract from the kids’ enjoyment from what’s going on, but it adds a layer for Mom and Dad.”
2. Japeth the Goat
Um, so what’s that crazy, singing mountain goat doing in this scene? And that one? And THAT one?????
“Well, Japeth is my favorite character in this film. I love classic Warner Bros. cartoons. I mean everything doesn’t have to be an intellectual French film. Sometimes it’s just fun to watch a goat fall down something or fall on something. Japeth is my favorite character. I think he’s infinitely funny, and every now and then you just want to make your cartoon as silly and as cartoony as possible. I don’t think it takes away from the rest of the film, going on these little breaks. Well, you know you’ve got an action film going on, and so you have to build tension. But I’m aware of the fact that there are kids in the audience, so I need to break the tension before it gets to the point where anyone would be, in any way, scared or upset because I’m not going to let that happen in a family film for me. I want your kids to enjoy it, and be comfortable and be relaxed. This film is exciting, but it’s safe. And Japeth is a big part of that.”
1. All 3D, All the Time
Yawn. So if you’ve seen one 3D animated film, then you’ve seen them all, right? Not so fast …
“Unlike a lot of the films you see that are in 3D, the whole movie is designed to work in 3D. So the result of that is that it pulls you in and can add an emotional depth to the scenes where it will bring you closer to the character’s point of view. But it can also add that extra edge of excitement and the thrill ride when we’re doing the big intense action stuff. I think it’s a tool that’s used well in this film. I’m very proud of the team that put the shots together. And so I would say if you’re willing to go to the effort to come see this film, you will have a great experience as a family. You’ll enjoy it yourself. It’s funny. You’ll be excited, you’ll be drawn in. The 3D is definitely worth it, and well thought out and wasn’t just slapped in at the end to get more money out of you. I hope I respect my audience and appreciate the time and effort they put in to see the film and want them to feel like I care about them. And I want them to have a good time.”
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil stars the following cast of characters:
- Hayden Panettiere – “Little Red”
- Joan Cusack – “Verushka the Witch”
- Patrick Warburton – “The Big Bad Wolf”
- Bill Hader – “Hansel”
- Brad Garrett – “Giant”
- Amy Poehler – “Gretel”
- Glenn Close – “Granny”
- Martin Short – “The Woodsman”
- David Ogden Stiers – “Nicky Flippers”
- Heidi Klum – “Heidi”
Produced by The Weinstein Company and rated PG for some mild rude humor, language and action, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil opens wide in theaters (both 3D and 2D) on Friday, April 29, 2011.
For a full review, please visit the Crosswalk.com Movies channel.