The first Hoodwinked, though nothing too revolutionary, made a name for itself in a very competitive industry on account of the fact that it, like Shrek before it, managed to walk the thin between classic fairy tale and pop culture sensibilities. I wasn’t overly enamored with the original, though appreciated a bit of the originality it contained especially considering it was done on a shoestring budget by a small company.
Naturally, as is the way of things in Hollywonk, a successful project deserves another and thus brings us to Hoodwinked Too! Hood Versus Evil, the 2011 animated feature film from the Weinstein Company. Built on a reputed $30 million budget (roughly double that of the first film), Too! is 86-minutes long and wears an appropriate PG rating.
The story, or what passes for one here goes something like this: Red (Hayden Panettiere), a member of the mysterious warrior order “Sisters of the Hood”, is roped into service by the top-secret Happily Ever After Agency when Granny (Glenn Close) is kidnapped by a witch (Joan Cusack) during a failed rescue attempt of the imprisoned Hansel and Gretel (Bill Hader and Amy Poehler). Hot on the trail are Red’s friends Wolf (Patrick Warburton) and the squirrel Twitchy (Cory Edwards).
From there it’s a procession of pop-culture puns, plays on words, and cute little sociological riffs in rapid fire succession. No you aren’t going to find much emotional attachment here like you would in a modern Pixar piece (or for that matter a classic Disney film), instead prepare for a quick witted script delivered by A-list actors that outshines its lackluster visuals.
Surprisingly, the film has received overwhelming negative reviews from the onset despite the fact that fairy tales blended with contemporary references are harder to pull off than most realize (reference any of the three Unstable Fables or the two Happily Never Afters for more definitive proof of this phenomenon). Arguable only the severely over-milked Shrek franchise has succeeded and to be completely honest, Hoodwinked Too! doesn’t feel as convoluted or as poorly paced as (the generally higher regarded film of the same year), Puss in Boots.
However that’s not to suggest Too! isn’t without its misfires either- if you aren’t particularly impressed with spoof scenes of other popular movies, be forewarned, this film is chock full of them. Some are simply too clichéd for any real enjoyment (Terminator’s “I’ll be back” or Scarface’s “Say Hello to My Little Friend”) but a few (like Boingo Bunny’s “Hello Clarice” have bite. It certainly helps to go into the film in a silly mood.
In all, I suppose critics were more upset at the lack of clever story or singular enduring character but going back to the original Hoodwinked should really be proof enough that this series is more about zingers and pop culture references than it is creating a modern classic. So long as you go in realizing this, Hoodwinked Too! won’t disappoint.
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