Anchor Bay // 2011 // 87 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // August 14th, 2011
The good...the bad...the twitchy.
"I can't believe I'm still alive!"
When Granny (Glenn Close, Damages) is captured by an evil witch (Joan Cusack, Mars Needs Moms), it's up to the Happily Ever After Agency (or HEA) to come to the rescue. When the valiant efforts of the not-so-bad Big Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton, The Emperor's New Groove) and Twitchy the Squirrel (screenwriter Corey Edwards) fall short, HEA head honcho Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers, M*A*S*H) decides that it's time to call in the talented Red Riding Hood (Hayden Panettiere, Heroes). Over the course of her rescue mission, Red encounters Hansel (Bill Hader, Superbad), Gretel (Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation), Boingo the Evil Bunny (Andy Dick, NewsRadio), Kirk the Woodsman (Martin Short, The Three Amigos), a giant (Brad Garrett, Everybody Loves Raymond), some cantankerous pigs (Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, Up in Smoke), and a host of other wild characters.
The original Hoodwinked was a relatively low-budget animated film that made good use of its limited resources. Despite the rather cheap-looking visuals, the film succeeded thanks to a clever screenplay (which transformed the story of Little Red Riding Hood into a Rashomon-style mystery), witty writing and strong voice work from pros like Patrick Warburton and David Ogden Stiers. It was a pretty self-contained idea, but the film's success meant we would be getting a sequel regardless. Alas, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil fails to live up to the inventive fun of its predecessor.
The title is an indication of one of the film's most significant problems. There's no good reason to call the movie Hoodwinked Too! rather than Hoodwinked Two; there's no double meaning explained later in the film. It's just that a play on words was available and the filmmakers jumped at the chance to make that nonsensical joke. The entire film acts accordingly, as Hoodwinked Too! would much rather make a bad joke than run the risk of not telling a joke at all. The screenplay is a frenzied mess, throwing out one pun, wisecrack, one-liner and pop culture reference after another in the hopes that something will stick. Every now and then the movie generates a chuckle, but the hit-to-miss ratio is unsatisfying. There's a sense of half-baked, eager-to-please desperation here reminiscent of Mel Brooks' weaker cinematic outings.
While Hoodwinked actually made good use of an old fairy tale, Hoodwinked Too! simply mashes a whole lot of familiar fairy tale elements into a stew and serves up a hyperactive action-adventure. The filmmakers clearly take a lot of pleasure in upending our expectations, but they do this so often than the unexpected quickly becomes the expected. Of course Hansel & Gretel are actually incredibly evil children forcing the witch to do their bidding. Of course the sweet old lady is actually a maniacal action hero. Of course the characters who look villainous are really just effete sweethearts. This routine gets old pretty quickly, particularly considering that the film really doesn't do much with these ideas once it presents them.
The whole affair is basically intended as an 86-minute self-referential wink. There was a lot of that sort of thing in Hoodwinked, but the first film actually had the sturdy foundation of an engaging story. Hoodwinked Too! uses the thinnest of plots to set up its endless series of cutesy moments: "Who reads books? Movies are better. Especially sequels," one character declares. I certainly don't despise Hoodwinked Too!, as there were a few moments that made me smile (particularly those involving Warburton's amiable Big Bad Wolf), but this is the very definition of a pointless sequel.
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil arrives on Blu-ray sporting an exceptional 1080p/1.78:1 transfer. While you're certainly not in for a Rango-level visual feast this time around (the animation still looks pretty shoddy; the disconnect between the characters' mouths and the actors' delivery is particularly disconcerting), what's here is presented with sparkling detail and clarity. The picture is a bit dimmer than the average kids' film, but colors are still vibrant. Audio is robust and engaging, if a little headache-inducing at times (above all else, Hoodwinked Too! seems determined not to settle down). The action scenes (of which there are many) are well-mixed and give your speaker system a solid workout. The score (by Doctor Who's Murray Gold) is quite involving, but the song selections (from a dance club take on "Kung Fu Fighting" to a mindless end credits song informing everyone, "Now you've been hoodwinked, too!" -- into watching a pointless sequel, perhaps) are disappointing. Supplements are thin: a featurette on the voice cast, three music videos, storyboards, a production slideshow and a DVD copy.
Those such as myself who enjoyed Hoodwinked should think twice before picking up Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil. This is a lazy, disappointing follow-up. The Blu-ray release gets the job done in the technical department, though.
Review content copyright © 2011 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Music Video
* Image Galleries
* DVD Copy