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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

HOODWINKED TOO! HOOD VS. EVIL -- DVD review by porfle


I was pretty numb during the first twenty minutes or so of HOODWINKED TOO! HOOD VS. EVIL (2011) with its hyperactive sugar-high action, "girl power" antics, self-consciously hip and overly adult humor, and the kind of rubbery-looking CGI cartoon characters that I'm sorta getting tired of looking at. 

But at a certain point in the story we find out who the real bad guys are, and it's such a neat surprise that I thought, "Okay, I get it now" and started to enjoy this tacky little bag of eye candy.  I still didn't love it, but I didn't hate it anymore, either. 

From that magical children's wonderland known as The Weinstein Company, this relatively low-budget concoction opens with Granny (Glenn Close) and her fellow HEA (Happily Ever After) agents attempting to rescue Hansel and Gretel from the evil witch's gingerbread house before she cooks and eats them.  But without the help of agent Red Riding Hood (Hayden Panettiere), who's off training with the Sisters of the Hood at their mountaintop temple, the mission fails and the witch makes off with the both the children and Granny.



Holding them captive in the Dark Castle Towers hotel, the witch tries to make Granny divulge the secret recipe for the Norwegian Black Forest Feather Cake Truffle Divine, which can make those who eat it super-powerful and invincible.  Meanwhile, Red and Big Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton) are on the trail along with their caffeine-crazed squirrel sidekick Twitchy, until their endless bickering causes them to split up.  Naturally, they eventually learn to work together and, with the help of numerous friends, save the day.

There's action aplenty as the spunky Red and her friends fight a variety of giant monsters (including an enormous spider), underworld baddies (the scene in the beanstalk giant's glitzy nightclub is fun), murderous hit-pigs with bazookas, and other dark denizens of their skewed fairytale world.  There's so much going on, in fact, that you might get a headache trying to take it all in--even the background extras swarm with extraneous activity.  Much of it, needless to say, is designed to hypnotically dazzle young eyeballs and keep them glued to the screen. 

The oddest thing about HOODWINKED TOO! for me is that it seems like a cross between a kids' film and an underground comic from the 60s that satirizes kids' films.  At the risk of sounding prudish, I remember when movies aimed at ten-year-olds didn't have bathroom humor, drug references ("The 60s were kind of a blur," Granny reveals), and funny-animal characters getting kicked in the nuts.  When the Wolf gets crotch-crunched after being splayed over an iron bar, he groans, "I can taste my own butt." 

A jab at Disney features the words "disgustingly cute" (how dare Uncle Walt make innocuous, non-hip kid flicks that were rated G?)  "Da fan is about to be hit by da doody!" is exclaimed at one point, and when the beanstalk giant (Brad Garrett) lands on a folk-singing goat, the little guy's voice--coming out of the giant's ass, of course--faintly remarks, "I'm in a dark tunnel...and I can smell burritos."  It's funny how the "adult" humor that permeates the script is also the most puerile. 



The film is also loaded with pop culture references that only adults will get, most of whom will have to be over thirty.  Among the TV shows that are spoofed verbally or visually are "Happy Days", "Star Trek", and "Starsky and Hutch."  SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is strongly recalled when Red and Wolf visit the previous film's villain, Boingo Bunny (Andy Dick), in his Lecter-like dungeon cell, while Granny sports the same yellow and black outfit worn by Uma Thurman in KILL BILL VOL. 1.  The idea that the writers expect young viewers of HOODWINKED TOO! to have seen those two films is somewhat distressing. 

Nevertheless, there are so many gags flying around all over the place that some of them are pretty amusing, especially anything involving those strange little German tykes Hansel (Bill Hader) and Gretel (Amy Poehler).  In the meantime, older viewers may enjoy playing "spot the celebrity voice."  Panettiere and Close are okay as Red and Granny, and Warburton gives The Wolf his usual laconic quality.  Joan Cusack instills the witch with the same manic kookiness she brought to ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES. 

The Three Little Henchman Pigs are voiced by Cheech & Chong and Phil Lamarr with predictable results.  Martin Short and Heidi Klum are among the corpulent squad of yodeling mercenaries who aid in Granny's rescue.  David Ogden Stiers plays Nicky Flippers, the frog leader of the HEA, and the beanstalk giant's singing harp, Jimmy 10-Strings, is voiced by Vegas mainstay Wayne Newton (who's starting to look a little like a CGI cartoon character himself).

The two-disc Blu-Ray/DVD combo from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 widescreen and Dolby English 5.1 sound.  Subtitles are in English and Spanish.  Extras include "The Voices of Hoodwinked Too!", storyboard comparisons, production artwork, three music videos, and brief videogame teasers.   

I don't watch a lot of these computer-animated cartoons myself--I prefer either cel animation or WALLACE AND GROMIT-style stop-motion--so I can't really compare the effects of HOODWINKED TOO! HOOD VS. EVIL to the recent high-profile examples of the genre churned out by the likes of Pixar and Dreamworks.  What I can say is that although I found it too frenetic and lowbrow at times, I still managed to enjoy it to a certain extent.  But it's not exactly what I'd call a basket of goodies.



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