Movie Review: Hoodwinked

Last night we had a screening of Hoodwinked, the new animated feature by director Cory Edwards and co-directed by Todd Edwards. It’s a retelling of the classic story of Little Red Riding Hood, and features the vocal talents of Glenn Close as Granny, Ann Hathaway as Red, James Belushi as the Woodsman, veteran voice over master Patrick Warburton as the Wolf, David Ogden Stiers as Flippers, a suave investigating frog, and Andy Dick as Boingo the rabbit. The plotline is a fractured fairly tale: the story you know isn’t the real story…

I’ll get the negatives out of the way right off the bat, because I’m not really sure how to be nice about this. In terms of visual effects and art design, this movie is not exactly going to knock your socks off. The characters have a very wooden look to them: the characters have an extremely limited range of facial motion and the animation on the whole appears rather stiff. The net result of this is that the entire movie reminds you of some of the old stop-motion Rankin-Bass features you’d see around christmas. The lighting overall is, well, as near as I can tell, there was no lighting. It really bothered me for the first ten or fifteen minutes, especially when I realized that the highlight in Red’s eyes was actually painted on, and stuck to her eye as she looked around. Bleh. There was a couple of times when Granny was center stage and you could literally see some strange polygonal effects around her mouth. Double bleh. And you should never have a roller coaster like scene without motion blur. Yuck.

Oh, and the music? Mostly terrible, although the villain’s song (mercifully, the last in the movie) was somewhat better, and didn’t seem contrived.

Okay, it’s not the prettiest movie, what’s to like?

HoodwinkedThe vocal performances were on the whole quite good, although I couldn’t really understand what accent Jim Belushi was trying for. Stiers does an amazing job as Flippers, I never would have recognized him as the urbane frog if he hadn’t been listed in the credits. Andy Dick and Glenn close also do well, as does rapper Xzibit as Chief Grizzly.

The story is actually pretty good. Early in the movie I thought it was going to be dreadful, but I think that may have been more of a reaction to the problems I had with the visual look of the film, and that’s probably something that’s fairly unique to people like me who work in the industry. Once I sort of got around that, I began to find quite a bit to like about the story, and by the end, I thought it was actually pretty fun. If you spent $10 to see it, you might feel a bit cheated, but if you got in on a cheap matinee, I would think you might be pretty allright with that.

I stuck around at the end to watch the credits, and it’s pretty clear that they didn’t spend the kind of money that studios like Pixar and PDI spend: their credits are remarkably short. For them to release a movie like this at all and get a national distribution deal is a credit to them.

Overall, I’m going to give the movie a B-, but I’m probably being mean because I stare at computer generated images all day long. Read some user reviews on Yahoo! or whatever if you’d like to get a glimpse at a more well-rounded view. It’s rated PG: some very young children at our screening found the growling wolf pretty intense, they did not like him at all but I suspect most kids over the age of eight will be fine.

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