A premise as old as its animation style: Don't get "Hoodwinked"

by Eric Melin on January 13, 2006

in Print Reviews

In the high-stakes big budget world of computer animation, “Hoodwinked” is an anomaly, as it was made without the benefit of major studio cash. Audiences have become accustomed to the dazzling visuals of Pixar movies, however, so the makers of this independently financed movie face an uphill battle, especially since its characters are all uncomfortably glassy-eyed and move like two-jointed 80s action figures.

The “Shrek”-like premise of spoofing classic fairy tales is almost as old as “Hoodwinked’s” animation techniques, which are just a step above Madden 2005. Cory and Todd Edwards, the co-writer/directors (along with Tony Leech) know this, so they try to make up for it by packing in more obscure pop culture references than an episode of “The Family Guy.”

“Anyone got some uppers?”

The Wolf, voiced by Patrick Warburton, is a Fletch homage, a reporter who wears Chevy Chase’s Lakers jersey and hoodie (when he’s not in one of his crazy disguises) and is accompanied by Harold Faltermeyer-like synth pop to accentuate his deadpan delivery.* And there’s a Granny (Glenn Close) who mysteriously appears in the clouds like Obi-Wan Kenobi to tell her granddaughter to “Use the hood, Red, use the hood!”

The film opens with narration that refers to Little Red Riding Hood, but could also be a plea for leniency from the filmmakers: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Unfortunately, that is a lot to overlook. The action scenes, while frenetically paced, just don’t pan out. It is difficult to feel danger in a manic chase when the character is staring straight ahead, mouth agape, with the same blank expression from the scene before. Most of the emotion, then, comes from the actors that are voicing Red (Anne Hathaway), her Granny, the Wolf, and the Woodsman (Jim Belushi). It is like watching a bad music video where the singer is belting out the song, but can’t lip-sync it with the same passion.

To its credit, “Hoodwinked” attempts to mix things up by sporting a “Rashomon”-like timeline where each character gives their own version of a crime. In this case, the fairy tale quartet are rounded up by a long- legged, mustachioed frog named Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Steirs) for questioning about the theft of the woodland communities’ “goodie” recipes.

Each suspect has a stranger backstory than the next, some so weird that the jokes may be lost on younger viewers. As the Wolf trudges through a sewer with his annoying chipmunk sidekick Twitchy (Cory Edwards), the scared rodent says, “We’re gonna die in here!”

“That’s what they said at the Alamo,” the Wolf reassures him.

This kind of cheekiness is kind of charming after a while, and there are other clever ideas, like a goat (Benjy Gaither) who uses his oversized horns as a rocking chair and has to sing everything in a high country tenor. The original songs, sung by the characters (with the notable exception of a nice ballad called “Red is Blue” by Ben Folds), are not too bad either.

“Hoodwinked” shows a lot of promise for its filmmaking team. It has an anarchic spirit and lots of in-jokes for adults. With a bigger budget and a better concept, Leech and the Edwards brothers could probably make a way more entertaining film.

* As an extra bonus tribute to Chase, the Wolf also utters the infamous line “Candygram..” when approaching a door.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mark December 13, 2009 at 11:50 am

I just saw this movie last night and was thinking the same thing about the animation. It’s so rigid and emotionless. It looked more like the South Park episode dedicated to the World of Warcraft. Perhaps if they had 1 less well known voice actor, they could have hired 20 more graphic artists. BTW, my comment on this post reminds me of the Jim Gaffigan joke where he sees a movie YEARS after it was released.

Heat? I saw that six years ago!’
Yeah, I wanna talk about it now!
‘No, loser!’
He’s right, there is that awkward pause when you’ve seen a movie too late, unless it’s a classic like “Casablanca” or “The Godfather.”

Reply

2 Mark December 13, 2009 at 11:50 am

I just saw this movie last night and was thinking the same thing about the animation. It’s so rigid and emotionless. It looked more like the South Park episode dedicated to the World of Warcraft. Perhaps if they had 1 less well known voice actor, they could have hired 20 more graphic artists. BTW, my comment on this post reminds me of the Jim Gaffigan joke where he sees a movie YEARS after it was released.

Heat? I saw that six years ago!’
Yeah, I wanna talk about it now!
‘No, loser!’
He’s right, there is that awkward pause when you’ve seen a movie too late, unless it’s a classic like “Casablanca” or “The Godfather.”

Reply

3 Mark December 13, 2009 at 11:50 am

I just saw this movie last night and was thinking the same thing about the animation. It’s so rigid and emotionless. It looked more like the South Park episode dedicated to the World of Warcraft. Perhaps if they had 1 less well known voice actor, they could have hired 20 more graphic artists. BTW, my comment on this post reminds me of the Jim Gaffigan joke where he sees a movie YEARS after it was released.

Heat? I saw that six years ago!’
Yeah, I wanna talk about it now!
‘No, loser!’
He’s right, there is that awkward pause when you’ve seen a movie too late, unless it’s a classic like “Casablanca” or “The Godfather.”

Reply

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