Friday, November 14, 2014

Hoodwinked Review

I've had several people (or maybe one person many times) recommend Hoodwinked (2005) to me. The trailer looked a lot like a wacky fairy tale story that was capitalizing on the novelty of Shrek. Most of what put me off was the low quality animation. I assumed it was a mockbuster; a film created with the intention of piggybacking on the publicity of a major film with a similar title or theme and is often made with very low budget. I was actually pleasantly surprised to find a lighthearted and detailed story with plenty of off the wall cartoon antics.
The recipes of the forest's goody shops have been stolen by The Goody Bandit, and many animals are going out of business without them. While the police are chasing the criminal, there is a mess at Granny's house involving Little Red Riding Hood (Anne Hathaway), The Wolf (Patrick Warburton), The Woodsman (Jim Belushi), and Granny (Glenn Close), disturbing the peace in the forest. They are all arrested by the impatient Chief Grizzly (Xzibit). Detective Nicky Flipper (David Ogden Stiers) is in charge of the investigation and each of the accused gives his/her own version of the incident. Are one of the suspects The Goody Bandit?
As I said previously, the animation here was just awful. The characters had very jerky movements and few facial expressions. Nearly everyone moved with unrealistic slowness and deliberation, or they moved with such ridiculous speed so as to seem unrealistic even for cartoon characters. The few really zany characters that actually made funny faces all made the same funny face. I have seen better animation from CGI Saturday morning cartoons that went off the air six years prior to this (i.e. Reboot, Beast Wars: Transformers). It really was distracting at times. About the only thing that looked reasonably well animated was a couple of explosions. It's no wonder this seemed like a mockbuster.
DreamWorks studios have put out some pretty weak movies in the past couple of years that displayed some good animation and a terrible story and script (looking at you, Shark Tale). But Hoodwinked is just the opposite; lazy, lackluster animation with an above average script. This seemed a lot like an old Tex Avery cartoon (who had spoofed the story of Red Riding Hood many times) combined with the "Fractured Fairy Tales" segment of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. There were so many funny lines and puns strewn throughout, it had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. And the story was more elaborate and interesting than I ever would have guessed.
The first half of the movie consists of Nicky interviewing each of the convicted suspects. The story is then told and retold from different perspectives that lead up to the Red Riding Hood story set up at the movie's intro. Weird, seemingly non sequitur events and gags happen in each one and end up being explained later in another character's account. For example, an unexplained avalanche chases Red down a mountain in her story. Later Wolf has to take an alternate route to Granny's house because of the same unexplained avalanche. Then the Woodsman tells his story, and it's not until Granny's eccentric version of things that this plot device is explained. In the end all the wacky events come together to tell one fairly elaborate story that is still simple enough for young viewers to keep up with. I was genuinely impressed by this bit of storytelling, simple as it was. It's not a deep or moving story; it's just a fun, lighthearted romp that is a step or two above most Saturday morning cartoons.
Overall, I have to say that Hoodwinked is not bad. It's got an upstart charm, a clever premise, appealing characters voiced by a terrific cast and a script that should make you laugh out loud more than once. The animation was awful. It lacked subtlety, refinement, and texture; all of which had been achieved in CGI animation years prior. It lacks some of the wit that Shrek has, but still was worth a few laughs. This will appeal much more to kids than it will to adults. There were a few times I started to get bored, but I don't doubt young audiences would eat this up. Hoodwinked is currently streaming on NetFlix. I enjoyed it for what it was. If you've got kids this is worth watching with them, otherwise you'll be better off with something that has a bit more substance to it.

Can you think of another movie where the story/script was better than the animation itself? Comment below and let me know!


  1. An American Tail is a spectacular movie, but at times has some very scratchy animation. It doesn't diminish the movie (and actually enhances the grimy nature of early 20th century New York). Don Bluth's animation gets better in later movies, but I still maintain that American Tail was the best animated movie his studio did.

    1. It's been years since I saw An American Tail, I don't remember the animation being subpar.

    2. Not really subpar. The budget was low and the animators were going for a visual style that resembled Disney's 1940's films. The result is beautiful, but there are some places where you can tell the production was rushed (shaky cel matting, looped character animation to fill up space, etc.) It's not a badly animated movie, by any means, it's just not as elegant as Bluth's later projects.