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HOODWINKED

Review by Gordon Justesen

Voices: Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, Jim Belushi, Patrick Warburton, Anthony Anderson, David Ogden Stires, Xzibit, Chazz Palminteri, Andy Dick
Directors: Cory Edwards, Tony Leech, Todd Edwards
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Weinstein Company
Features: See Review
Length: 81 Minutes
Release Date: May 2, 2006

“So, Mr. Wolf, may I call you 'Wolf'”?

“You can call me Sheila. I like long walks and fresh flowers.”

Film ***1/2

There’s no question that Hoodwinked couldn’t have existed without the inspiration of the Shrek movies. Like those films before it, the film has loads of fun spoofing classic fairy tales while adding in dozens of pop cultural references. What’s surprising is that this film, just like Shrek, is endlessly fun and inventive in its wild and zany qualities.

Yes, this is a great entertainment for both kids and adults. Adults, especially film buffs, will get a big kick out of the narrative inspired by both Rashomon and The Usual Suspects. The storytelling device is applied to a certain mystery that has happened concerning several well known fairy tale characters; Red Riding Hood, Granny, The Big Bad Wolf and The Woodsman.

Each of the four characters is brought in for questioning by Nicky Flippers (voiced by David Ogden Stires) and Chief Grizzly (voiced by Xzibit). First up for interrogation is Red Riding Hood (voiced by Anne Hathaway). Her story consists of her engaging in a daily delivering of her Granny prized cookie recipe. She then claims to have been ruthlessly stalked by the Big Bad Wolf, who then tracked her all the way to Granny’s house for that all famous disguise move.

Next, The Wolf (voiced to hilarious perfection by Patrick Warburton) is brought in to tell his side of the story. And he claims to have the whole scoop. The Wolf, it turns out, is an investigative journalist who’s been sent in to uncover the truth behind sudden decrease in the town’s recipes. He suspects that the little happy Red Riding Hood may have some involvement in the matter. He even admits that the little girl managed to put a major beating on him.

Then we get the story from the perspective of Kirk, The Woodsman (voiced by Jim Belushi). Kirk isn’t the brightest bulb of the bunch when it comes to being a woodsman. But that’s only because deep down, he’s more of an aspiring actor. He is constantly reading such books like “Chopping for Actors”. His involvement in the incident at Granny’s house was simply caused by him eluding a rolling tree log that chased him down a hill, forcing him to dive through the window of the home, screaming with an ax in his hand.

Soon afterward, Granny (voiced by Glenn Close) is brought in to deliver her two cents. We learn something a bit unexpected about this traditionally sweet and innocent character, which is she isn’t so sweet and innocent. She, in fact, turns out to be something of a daredevil acrobat in the form of Agent xXx. She is seen combating evil goons during a snowboarding competition. The goons in question may just be the real culprits behind the crime being committed.

Many of the reviews for the movie panned the animation, but from my perspective, it isn’t all that bad. When you take into consideration that Hoodwinked is actually one of the first independently made animated features, you can understand why it looks the way it does. True, it isn’t THE ABSOLUTE BEST animation you’ll see in a computer animated movie, but several instances, such as the detail in the look of the Big Bad Wolf, do merit some considerable remarks, I think.

And the vocal talents for the characters, this time around, are certainly nothing short of winning. Anne Hathaway was perfectly chosen to voice the attitude-loaded Red Riding Hood, Glenn Close’s voice is very unrecognizable in the performance of Granny, as is Jim Belushi’s take on the Woodsman. But for my money, it’s Patrick Warburton who steals the show as The Wolf. It’s pretty much one of the funniest animated performances I’ve seen in any such film.

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the crucial character of Twitchy (voiced by the film’s director, Cory Edwards). Twitchy’s a hyperactive, fast talking squirrel photographer who, get this, doesn’t drink coffee.

Hoodwinked is a storybook full of laughs and superb family entertainment. I think it’s every bit in equal to the comedy value of the Shrek films, and I even think the movie has a sharper edge in terms of the pop culture references. Any animated film that manages to spoof Fletch, Kill Bill and xXx is terrific in my book!

Video ****

No matter what your opinion of the animation is, the video quality provided by The Weinstein Company is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Any form of computer animation was meant for the DVD format, and the presentation on this disc is definite proof of that. The colors are visually astounding and the overall detail of the anamorphic picture are a visual treat to the eye.

Audio ****

The 5.1 mix delivers superbly in this presentation. There are endless physical pratfalls and bits of action that keep the channels alive and kickin’ throughout. Dialogue delivery is strong and distinct, and music playback is quite strong as well. A most terrific presentation.

Features ***

Included is a fun and informative commentary track by filmmakers Cory Edwards, Tony Leech and Todd Edwards, as well as 5 Deleted & Extended Scenes with optional commentary. Also featured is a featurette titled “How to Make an Animated Film”, a music video for the song “Critters Have Feelings” and a Theatrical Trailer.

Summary:

Rarely does a single animated film deliver this much hilarity. Hoodwinked is an endless delight, filled with a sharp wit, a distinct animation style, and an all around dose of originality. Highly recommended for the entire family, indeed!

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