Friday, January 13, 2006


Director: Cory Edwards (uncredited: Todd Edwards and Tony Leech)
Story by the Edwards brothers along with the screenplay, co-written with Leech.
The Weinstein Company

You gotta' love modern-day re-imaginings of old stories, the Shrek-ifying of fairy tales where the worlds and characters we know and love are not actually the same as we remember. No longer content to stay inside the one-dimensional trappings they have been enslaved in for thousands of years, there's an edge to them, they have complex needs, and there's always a knowing nod to their "former" selves.

Hoodwinked is the first of about a hundred computer-animated movies coming out this year. The strange part is this comes from The Weinstein Company, the Weinsteins' new distribution house after the Disney/Miramax split. They are in their infancy, having released Derailed and Wolf Creek, along with a handful of movies that haven't gotten here yet.

So the story is, Red (Anne Hathaway) comes to Grandma's (Glenn Close) house with some goodies and the Wolf (Patrick Warburton) is posing as Grandma inside, and The Woodsman (James Belushi) comes to the rescue, a "domestic disturbance" is reported to the police and they come to investigate. A frog detective, Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), tries to get their stories straight, and what follows is a Rashomon-style re-telling of what happened. In the midst of this, police and the woods community are trying to figure out who is stealing recipes and goodies and putting hard-working animals out of business.

That kind of premise is pretty clever. You're not going to see many cartoons try to emulate Rashomon. That is the best part of the movie, seeing the different perspectives and explanations of things that we couldn't figure out before. It is often fun. But I think a lot of the execution of gags could have used some work. For all of its knowing nods that would go over the heads of children, there are very few sharp funny moments for all ages. There's a squirrel in this named Twitch (voiced by Cory Edwards) who speaks and acts in a lightning fast way, and it's good for one really nice joke near the end--but even this bundle of comic energy is a little under-realized. Warburton, who has been on everyone's voiceover wish-list, may have the best character with the Wolf, and his dry line-readings are good for a chuckle or two. It just all seems very incomplete.

You can take your kids (or nieces/nephews) to this and have a brief, nice time. It's by no means a bad movie, but you may be disappointed with the missed opportunities for mining gold out of the material.


At 1/13/2006 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

"Rashomon" style; interesting. I'll give the Weinstein's credit for trying to do something a little different here. Might have to check this out some day.


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