Wednesday, May 17, 2006

HOODWINKED

Hoodwinked MovieAnne Hathaway as the Voice of Little Red Directed by Cory Edwards
Starring Anne Hathaway ("Little Red")
Reviewed by Byron Merritt

THUMBS UP!

THUMBS UP ANIMATED FILM REVIEW RATING!

We all know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, right? But with director Cory Edwards at the helm of this fairy tale, things get changed …just a wee bit.

Little Red (voiced by Anne Hathaway, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN) wants out of the forest. She’s not happy living in such a constrained society. She dreams of flying over the mountains and seeing what lay beyond. But bad things are afoot in the forest. Food establishments are closing due to a rash of recipe thefts. Little Red has to protect her and Granny’s recipe book before it disappears as well. But who’s behind these thefts? And for what reason? When Little Red arrives at Granny’s house, the typical meeting with The Wolf occurs …sort of. Granny (voiced by Glen Close, FATAL ATTRACTION) is tied up in the closet (or is she?) The Wolf asks Little Red lots of probing questions about her basket. And as Little Red discovers that The Wolf is not Granny, The Woodsman comes bashing through a window wielding his axe and acting murderous. But is he?

The police are called in to investigate this “domestic disturbance” and as Detective Nicky Flippers (voiced by
David Ogden Stiers, M*A*S*H) soon discovers, many more strange things are happening than meets the eye. Granny has a triple-G tattoo on her neck and loves extreme sports (paying homage to xXx with Vin Diesel). The Wolf (voiced by Patrick Warburton, SKY HIGH) is actually a reporter researching the recent recipe thefts and feels that Granny and Little Red are at the center of it. The Woodsman (voiced by James Belushi, K-9) is just a Schnitzel-On-A-Stick salesman turned actor trying to find his inner Woodsman. And Little Red is simply a delivery girl who’s disenchanted with the world around her.

Borrowing from just about every action film out there, HOODWINKED really works. Everything from THE MATRIX to CITY SLICKERS is referenced …and it’s done very well. The animation seems nearly old-fashioned and out-of-date, which actually adds a quaint quality to the film; it’s not trying too hard to be something it isn’t. It isn’t FINDING NEMO or SHREK. It couldn’t be with a budget only a fraction of what those two animation goliaths cost. This is an independent film (gotta love ‘em!), so money is stretched thin. Which leads me to my next point …

When the film was put out at theaters (in limited release), it didn’t have the marketing budget that Pixar and Disney had for theirs. Professional reviews were cool (to say the least), which leads me to wonder if this movie had been put out by Disney or Pixar what the reviews might have been like. With action figures at Toys-R-Us, computer games, posters, and God only knows what else, the financial ability of the production company might have weighed heavy on the minds of reviewers and how children (and adults) viewed it. Trust me, this IS an issue. Independent films struggle under the shadow of these huge film companies.

And here’s the thing: this movie is GOOD. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s fun, light, engaging, voiced well, animated fine, and uproariously entertaining. I especially enjoyed Twitchy the speed-talking squirrel whose brush with caffeine addiction makes for some of the funnier moments. I also liked Japeth the singing Goat, who takes a ride with Little Red through a mine that looks suspiciously like the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction at Disneyland. A little needling at the Disney corporation maybe? Loved it!


And who is the recipe thief, you may be asking. Well that’s something you’ll HAVE to find out for yourself …and it’s worth it.

Click here for the Hoodwinked movie trailer!

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