All the goodies in this Little Red Riding Hood basket are stale, even though they came from the hallowed halls of the Weinstein Company, the post-Disney incarnation of Miramax. Its first foray into animated fare supposedly aimed to appeal to older kids as well as their parents is a badly drawn and disappointingly uninspired rehashing of what's become the standard cliché in children's movies: the fairy tale with a twist. It seems everybody in Hollywood is looking for the next Shrek, so much so that reworking classic tales has become as played out as having someone say "fo shizzle." Regrettably, this movie does both.
Hoodwinked follows the little red-hooded one's fated trip to see her Snoop-Dogg-quoting Granny, only it tells the tale as if it were a crime story, à la Mother Goose meets CSI. Seems a thief has been stealing recipes from local bakers and the culprit is likely the big wolf himself. Granny's cottage in the woods quickly becomes a crime scene with cop cars, flashing lights and caution tape. The story is told and retold from the vantage points of the four suspects: the sassy-pants little Red (Anne Hathaway), her extreme-sports loving Granny (Glenn Close), the stalking wolf (Patrick Warburton) and an ax-wielding woodsman-aspiring actor (James Belushi).
Hoodwinked just never delivers on the cool factor; instead, it brings the type of awkwardly faux hipness found in commercials for super-charged, sugar-coated breakfast cereals.
The animation fails to wow, and the characters and scenery look like a small computer-generated step above an old Gumby short. And frankly, that little green slab of clay was more fun to watch.
The jokes all have a snarky tone, but like Granny's alleged snowboarding prowess, the sarcasm on Hathaway just doesn't work. Warburton, whose range generally goes from acting dumb to aloof, goes with aloofness here, trying to play up the ruse that this isn't a little kid's movie. But it is. Unlike, say, The Simpsons, which appeals to young adults as much as to those with 401k plans, Hoodwinked isn't wryly observant or edgy. The most entertaining bit in the movie is Twitchy, a hyperactive squirrel who can't hold his caffeine. Purely kids' stuff.
Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].