Movie review: ‘Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil’
By Michael O’Sullivan
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Like “Hoodwinked,” the 2005 fairy tale-themed animated film, “Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil” centers on a recipe.
In the charming original, someone was stealing the instructions for making sweets, putting mom-and-pop candy and bake shops everywhere out of business. It was up to Little Red Riding Hood (voice of Anne Hathaway) to find out who done it and to stop the villain.
In the sequel, someone has stolen the recipe for a “super truffle,” a magical confection with the power to give whoever eats it dominion over the Earth. Once again, Red (now voiced by Hayden Panettiere) must get to the bottom of the mystery. As before, she is aided in her investigation by the Big Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton), Granny (Glenn Close) and a hyperactive squirrel named Twitchy (Cory Edwards, who co-wrote both films and co-directed the first).
Same basic formula, similar shopping lists.
But something is missing. From an animation standpoint, both films suffer from a stylistic stiffness. The computer-rendered characters look and act like ceramic Hummel figurines come to life. They’re clunky and ungainly. But while the first film was lifted out of mediocrity by an utterly delightful storyline — a contemporary and subversive take on “Little Red Riding Hood” that turned its players’ roles on their heads and unspooled like an episode of “Law and Order” — the sequel is a flat, plodding and largely mirthless affair.
Oh, there are a few rude laughs, aimed mostly at the very youngest viewers. But the wit — epitomized by such cheap, slangy references as “my bad” and “kickin’ it, old school” and inexplicable allusions to such grown-up films as “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Ocean’s Twelve” — falls flat. What’s more, Bill Hader and Amy Poehler are wasted as Hansel and Gretel, whose apparent kidnapping by a witch (Joan Cusack, also squandered) sets the plot in motion.
The movie, directed by Mike Disa, proceeds largely without surprises, save for one weak twist that feels perfunctory compared with “Hoodwinked’s” pretzel-y narrative switchbacks.
Part of “Hoodwinked Too!” involves the search for one secret ingredient to complete the truffle recipe. But, as in baking, all the best movies have a critical ingredient, too — one that’s too often left out in the fear of messing with a proven moneymaker. That omission can mean the difference between a souffle and a brick.
It’s called originality.
Contains slapstick violence and cartoon action.