Starring: The voices of Glenn Close, Anne Hathaway, Patrick Warburton, James Belushi. Rated PG.
the world needs now is… a brand new take on the age-old
story of Little Red Riding Hood? That’s Kanbar Animation’s stance, and they’re
sticking to it. Kanbar, the latest animation company to challenge Pixar’s
box-office supremacy, makes its debut with Hoodwinked, an inconsistent repackaging of the classic Grimm
Brothers fairy tale. When it works, it’s an amusingly clever satire, with
enough subtle, devious humor to win over the adults as well as the kiddies.
Unfortunately, it works only sporadically, and the downtime isn’t pretty.
give co-directors Cory and Todd Edwards credit for
trying something sort of new. Taking a cue from Akira Kirosawa’s Rashomon, Hoodwinked is a story told
from multiple perspectives, with Red (Anne Hathaway),
Granny (Glenn Close) and the Wolf (Patrick Warburton) detailing the events that
lead to their fateful rendezvous in the forest. Red is the standard fairy-tale
heroine: gutsy, aggressively cheerful and precocious, if a tad na´ve. She’s
also a martial-arts expert, much to the delight of Granny, who is now an avid
fan of extreme sport, and prone to saying things like “Fo’ shizzle!”
that doesn’t sound funny to you, you’re not alone. More
amusing is Patrick Warburton’s big bad Wolf, recast here as an investigative
journalist with a quick wit and a sharp tongue to match his razor-like teeth.
Warburton, who has made a career out of playing sarcastic cut-ups on TV shows
like Seinfeld and the regrettably
short-lived Tick, has a natural
gift for comic timing, and he puts that to good use in Hoodwinked.
But in a movie awash with unnecessary characters – featuring
James Belushi as the flamboyant Woodsman! – Warburton can’t right the ship.
Sure, the animation lacks the artistic sophistication of recent winners like The
Incredibles and, to a lesser extent, Robots, but a stronger script could have saved the day.
Instead, Cory and Todd Edwards, who also share screenwriting credits, have
peppered Hoodwinked with too many
glib pop-culture in-jokes, slapped together a slew of breakneck action
sequences that seem more like flashy filler than vital components to their
story. All the superfluous hang-gliding, snowboarding and skiing may work well
enough as temporary eye candy for the junior circuit, but they can’t sustain a