Directed by Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards, Tony Leech. Voices by Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, Jim Belushi, Patrick Warburton, Anthony Anderson, David Ogden Stiers, Xzibit, Chazz Palminteri, Andy Dick, Ken Marino, Benjy Gaither. (2006, PG, 80 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Jan. 13, 2006
This animated update of the Little Red Riding Hood tale is designed to appeal to children and adults alike. And it will, although probably not in the numbers hoped for by the Weinstein Company execs who will be paying attention to the reception of their new company’s first animated release. The film’s hook is that it’s a "fractured fairy tale" that tells the story from several perspectives, Rashomon style. A goody bandit is loose in the woods, and the film begins as an investigation gets under way to discover precisely what occurred when Red (voiced by Hathaway) came to visit her grandma (Close) but found the Wolf (Warburton) in Granny’s bed as the old woman tumbled out of the closet and the Woodsman (Belushi) came suddenly crashing through the window. The investigation is led by the amphibious detective Nicky Flippers (Stiers), along with the ursine police chief (Xzibit) and an avian cop (Anderson). Each character relates their version of events and it turns out that, upon full disclosure, each has something to hide. The film’s voice talent is good, as are the characterizations. However, the film’s computer animation leaves much to be desired. Instead of the fluid gold standard of the Pixar animated look, Hoodwinked’s animation looks jerky in comparison – almost as if the characters were claymation figurines moving by stop-motion techniques. Red Riding Hood and the cartoon animals all are drawn with big googly eyes that emphasize their cuteness quotient. Thankfully brief song interludes break up the action. Co-writers and directors Leech and the Edward brothers are newcomers to filmmaking, and seem to have taken on other tasks as well as these primary chores. This is also the first release from the new Kanbar Animation Studios. (The most popular release by the studio’s owner Maurice Kanbar is his invention of "hangover free" Skyy Vodka.) For the time being, Hoodwinked will fill that family-friendly niche desired by filmgoers, but it’s not likely to have the undying appeal of a film like Shrek or Toy Story.