If you happened to miss 2005’s woefully under-the-radar Hoodwinked, snap it up immediately. It’s as good as any of the Shrek movies, offering a fresh spin on a centuries-old fairy tale—entertaining, inspired, and still just as good today as it was when it first hit theaters.
Six years later, Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil has arrived, and it actually feels older and more dated than the original. While it’s still a generally fine time and perfectly appropriate (and even enjoyable) for kids of all ages, parents are the ones who are shortchanged. When a movie relies on tired retreads of classic pop culture references that children won’t even begin to ‘get’, such as “I’ll be bahck”, “Say hello to my little friend”, “It’s hammer time”, etc., you know you’re in trouble.
The genius of the original movie was how it took a single (classic) story and retold it from each character’s viewpoint. It was interesting, clever, and actually very funny. Here the filmmakers have just put together a straight story, hoping the comedy is enough to carry the day. It isn’t.
Yes, all the usual characters are back, though Hayden Panettiere has taken over Red from Anne Hathaway, and the Woodsman is now voiced by Martin Short. (Apparently Jim Belushi knew better than to reprise the role, and that’s saying something for a guy who’s not known for being terribly picky.)
After youngsters Hansel and Gretel (Bill Hader and Amy Poehler) are kidnapped by a witch (Joan Cusack), the entire team springs into action, including Twitchy the Squirrel, Granny (Glenn Close), the Wolf (Patrick Warburton), and Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers).
The action comes pretty fast and furious, and since the movie’s in 3D, a lot of attention is given to flying, falling, and other swoopy movements. First-time director (and veteran Disney animator) Mike Disa certainly knows his way around a storyboard. There are a couple nifty surprises, and the animation is light years ahead of the original (though still just as many light years behind Pixar and other recent hits such as Rango and Rio).
The voice cast does a fine job, also– particularly Short, who helps turn the Woodsman into fun, over-the-top yodeling star, Cheech and Chong as two of the three little pigs, and David Allen Grier as a big fat troll.
Aside from those scattered moments, though, Hoodwinked Too never really finds its way, or, more importantly, its funny bone. The script feels a bit hackneyed and straight out of the mid 90s, and almost all of the cleverness and wit we saw the first go-round are gone– a little surprising (and disappointing), since brothers Cory and Todd Edwards wrote both.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the requisite Silence of the Lambs joke doesn’t mention “fava beans and a nice chianti”– so there’s that.