Appellate Judge Rob Lineberger says you mess with the hood, you get all tangled up in the drawstrings.
Our review of Hoodwinked (Blu-Ray), published February 15th, 2011, is also available.
Trouble In The Hood
There are three things that you are contractually obligated to mention when discussing Hoodwinked, if the myriad reviews and comments on the web are any guide:
1) Hey, this thing reminds me of Shrek, Rashomon, Fletch, and a whole bunch of other
Facts of the Case
Red (Anne Hathaway, Havoc), Granny (Glenn Close, The Chumscrubber), The Wolf (Patrick Warburton, The Tick), and The Woodsman (Jim Belushi, Overnight Delivery) all wind up embroiled in a domestic dispute in Granny's cabin. In short order the police are there, led by Chief Grizzly (Xzibit, xXx: State of the Union) and Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers, Better Off Dead). Grizzly wants to throw the book at the lot of them and get back to snarfing doughnuts, but Flippers smells a mystery underfoot. It seems there is a real criminal's arrest at stake: the Goody Bandit, who has been disrupting the forest's economy one goody at a time. With each story shedding new light on the one before it, Flippers gets to the bottom of the case. How do Boingo the bunny (Andy Dick) and Twitchy the hyperactive chipmunk (writer/director Cory Edwards) fit in?
I feel for filmmakers Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards, and Tony Leech. They came up with a movie they found funny, started making it on laptops in their apartments, and poured years into the idea. Weinstein et al picked it up, and suddenly the likes of Glenn Close, Anne Hathaway, and David Ogden Stiers were on board. The movie was released, and crowds accustomed to the spit polish of Shrek and Finding Nemo were decidedly underwhelmed by its cruddy animation that is rivaled by any first person shooter. For the rest of their natural lives, they have to footnote "but we only had 15 million!"
I don't feel too bad, of course, because Hoodwinked made 51 million and has obviously found an audience. It should. The movie's plot is a convoluted spiral of coincidences that result in constant "aha!" moments. It has plenty of small gags that work, like the way Det. Flippers eats an olive. Though it is sarcastic, the movie has a fundamentally friendly attitude that doesn't alienate kids. And some of the acting work is appealing. I wish them all well in their next feature.
That said, Hoodwinked's rope isn't nearly taut enough to hold it together. It is slow to start, bogs down in the middle, and dwindles to an end. Its small ideas work fantastically well, and its framework is conceptually interesting, but the movie never finds its heart. It isn't biting enough to be Shrek or polished enough to be Finding Nemo. On the other hand, it isn't crude enough to fit in with most of today's animation. Hoodwinked is off in its own hinterland.
Part of the problem is that Hoodwinked is tied to times that have already passed. Red is a tough chick from the hood, but that playa has been played out. Hathaway's one-note performance doesn't help much. Granny is an Xtreme sports addict at a time when Xtreme is a punch line instead of a cutting edge attitude. The Wolf is Fletch, which is timeless, so he's cool. The point is, Hoodwinked needed to be released about two years before it actually was. Seeing it now for the first time, I found it retro when it was trying to be fresh.
The problem is compounded by a plot that confuses us as to where it is going, then leaves us waiting around for events to catch up when we do glean the destination. Pacing is hard, and Hoodwinked doesn't quite find it. Granny's slope-grinding adventures go on far too long, as does The Woodsman's voyage of self-discovery. The musical number "Red is Blue" is not only boring as hell, it doesn't make any sense. So your granny likes to snowboard, get over it already. The "Bond villain with a shiny secret base and weird henchmen" finale has been parodied so often that all possible outcomes have been catalogued. This leaves the finale dragging where it should be rousing. Hoodwinked has its moments…not many of them, but it does have them.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Despite its laconic drifts into malaise, Hoodwinked rustles up plenty of standalone moments that work well. The Woodsman is a write-off of a character, but I'll always love him for giving us the schnitzel song. Granny redeems an early riff on Star Wars that I found entirely lame. Each character provides a gag or two that lands big.
These moments are enough to prove one thing: Hoodwinked marches to its own beat. It may not look or sound nearly as good as Finding Nemo, but in many ways it is more entertaining. Though I knew exactly what to expect from the overall arc, the road getting there was full of surprises. This kept me interested in fits and spurts throughout; more than I can say for Finding Nemo, which I turned off two-thirds of the way in.
Though they aren't given much to work with in many cases, most of the voice actors deliver quality work. The cast seems to be having a great time. Xzibit, Andy Dick, and Patrick Warburton provide depth to stock characters. Glenn Close is largely wasted in a role that could be played by anyone with a tremulous voice. David Ogden Stiers anchors the picture with his considerable voice acting experience.
The animation is rough, but Genius Products delivers a clean audio and visual transfer. (There isn't much to do in a digital-to-digital transfer, but some studios find a way to mess this up.) They also provide a decent slate of extras. A thoroughly engaging commentary track found me laughing along with the three comedians who came up with Hoodwinked. The deleted scenes are good for one reason: they show an extended cut of the schnitzel song. The "Critters Have Feelings" music video is as forgettable as the bulk of Hoodwinked, while the featurette makes me want to like the movie more.
Animation can be magic. When mishandled, it can be more tedious and draining than live action. Hoodwinked is a patchwork of hits and misses; creative enough to leave me looking forward to their next picture, even if I've already forgotten this one.
Two years in the Enchanted Forest—with no goodies.
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