If it's crap ... We'll tell you
It’s not hard to figure out why you might’ve passed on watching HOODWINKED! when it was first released in theaters or later on DVD. It’s a 3D animated movie that wasn’t produced by either Pixar or Dreamworks…or Fox…or Sony…or Warner Bros…or even Rankin/Bass , for that matter.
And the premise? : “An updated re-telling of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood.”
How could you have known that the movie would turn out to be a witty, POV film noir crime thriller borrowing elements from Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon and The Usual Suspects, with a top-notch cast of voice actors? Go figger.
HOODWINKED! Opens with Red (Anne Hathaway) stopping by to make a delivery for her Granny's sweets shop. Lying in wait is the Big Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton), only his motives are not what you’d think. Granny (Glenn Close) is hardly frail or sickly, either and she has a big secret that she's keeping from everyone--including Red. Suddenly a struggling actor who drives a schnitzel-on-a-stick truck by day, known as ‘the Woodsman’ (Jim Belushi), bursts in and the entire scene turns to abject chaos.
This foursome becomes suspects in an investigation by Detective Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), Chief Grizzly (Xzibit) and Detective Bill Stork (Anthony Anderson). Through flashbacks punctuated by original songs, Red, Wolf, Woodsman, and Granny each relay to Flippers their outrageous adventures from that day, from extreme skiing to hang gliding to falling out of a cable car to log rolling. Somehow all of these stories all intersect with the ongoing police case to track down the Goody Bandit, who is stealing all of the best recipes from the forest's sweet shops. By examining each character's story, Flippers is sure he can figure out not only what happened at Granny's that day, but also the identity of the Goody Bandit.
In many ways HOODWINKED! is way better than it had any right to be. From the first scene the script shows itself to be irreverent but not obnoxious and smart in the way it chooses to unfold the mystery. It’s perfectly played out by its voice talent. Most notably Anne Hathaway delivering a sassy, ‘girl power’ Red Riding Hood and Patrick Warburton as the Big Bad Wolf version of ‘Fletch’ (along with his hyperactive squirrel sidekick, ‘Twitchy’) steals every scene he’s in…Well, every scene that isn’t already swiped by Andy Dick as ‘Boingo’ the bunny.
As for the animation…
I saw HOODWINKED! when it was originally released at Austin’s infamous Gateway Theater—infamous because its projection system is so poorly maintained you could see clearer versions of the movies it shows from bootleg VHS tapes sold from any random dude’s car trunk. As such, through all the murk I gave HOODWINKED the benefit of the doubt and imagined that it was a much better looking movie than what I was seeing.
Now in all the glory of Blu-ray high definition imaging, there’s no more way to deny that the animation is just…maybe the worst I’ve seen from something that wasn’t direct-to-video or a part of PBS’ Saturday morning cartoon lineup. I would never have believed that even the minimum standard for a feature film could be this low. Even allowing that it was a product from the low level Weinstein Company, you still can’t help but think, “Guys, come on.”
But hell. In spite of that it still managed to pull in over $100 million worldwide, so what can I say?
• Feature Commentary with Directors, Tony Leech and brothers Cory & Todd Edwards, who are very funny most of the time.
• Deleted and Extended Scenes - some fun stuff, but mostly “meh”..
• "Critters Have Feelings" Music Video
• How to Make An Animated Feature Film Theatrical Trailer
On on the Blu-ray:
• The True Behind the Scenes Story is sort of an amped-up version of the DVD's making of featurette How to Make An Animated Feature Film. This is an all-in-one mix of enthusiastic cast & crew interviews and ‘The Making Of’. Unintentionally funny because of how much praise the actors give the animation, when it’s clear they have yet to see the final product.
Since it was nearly six years ago that HOODWINKED! was in theaters I wondered why the big push to get it on Blu-ray suddenly? As it turns out a sequel to the film, titled HOODWINKED TOO! Hood vs. Evil has been completed and was due for release in January 2010, but due to complications with The Weinstein Company and distribution rights, it was delayed. The rights were recently cleared and the Weinstein Company has scheduled the sequel for April 29, 2011.
If you want to get the jump on it you can purchase the first HOODWINKED! Blu-ray/ DVD Combo here.