Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil comes out during a time when unoffensive animated films just aren’t good enough anymore. For the film watcher, this is a great time with the likes of Pixar and Dreamworks upping the ante, with a few dark horses here and there and some old mainstays like Disney still staking a claim. Unfortunately, Hoodwinked Too isn’t a shining example of the current times. Instead, a bizarre plot, uninspired animation, and worst of all, a lack of more than a handful of laughs keep this sequel from pushing the genre forward. The shame is that there is some quality work done by some of the voice cast, but the rest of the film falls flat around them. Hit the jump for the full review.
Red (Hayden Panettiere) is being trained by the Sister Hoods in the art of fighting and baking, but all is not well for her partners at the Happily Ever After Agency. Granny Puckett (Glenn Close) and the Wolf (Patrick Warburton) are tracking down an evil witch (Joan Cusack), who has kidnapped Hansel (Bill Hader) and Gretel (Amy Poehler). After a botched attempt to rescue the kids, Granny is kidnapped as well, leading HEA head Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers) to call Red back into the fray to team up with Wolf and his partner Twitchy (Cory Edwards). Although Red and Wolf are reluctant teammates, they are forced to put their differences aside and solve the case. But who is masterminding the operation? Is it Boingo the Bunny, the nefarious Giant, or someone else? As the plot thickens and unlikely villains and heroes arise, it’s up to the trio to save the day.
While the original film flipped the switch on the standard Red Riding Hood tale, the sequel decides to make its own path. Working off of a script by Mike Disa, Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards, and Tony Leech, Hoodwinked Too again stuffs the film with almost every fairytale character it can manage with varying degrees of success. Considering this is Disa’s first feature length film, the film has some solid moments to build off of but it never feels like a cohesive plot. There is simply too much going on and the moments that work often end up quickly pushed to the side.
Hader and Poehler’s work as Hansel and Gretel are some of the best portions of the film, and their voices are hard to place without knowing them beforehand. Additionally, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong as the evil hog henchmen also provide a few laughs. In fact, it’s hard to recall any film utilizing the stoner duo and not garnering some laughter. Then there is the obvious swapping of main star Anne Hathaway with Panettiere, and Jim Belushi’s Kirk the Woodsman with an admirable effort by Martin Short.
Unfortunately, the rest of the cast seems to just plod along and the film rarely slows down to develop the characters as the trio bounce from location to location in an effort to track down the mastermind. After more cameos than you can count and a final plot twist, the film finally settles on a location. However, the climactic battle is a bit short-lived and ends with a whimper instead of a great finale that it was building to. The last third of the film is where it really picks up and shows some merit, but it’s over before it really had a chance to shine.
Despite the 3D effects that provide depth of field, the animation still feels flat and dull. I don’t even recall things being thrown at the screen, and the film rarely gives any interesting set-pieces to showcase the extra dimension. The character models also feel low-budget, which was part of the original’s charm. Here, it just feels lazy with an added dimension belying the inexpensive aesthetic.
Meanwhile, there is plenty of slapstick to keep the kids entertained, as Twitchy is a constant source of fun for kids and adults alike. Wolf gets in on the slapstick as well, as he is constantly stepping on his toes in some fashion. Then there is the return of Japeth the Goat, a bespectacled banjo-playing goat that has things constantly dropped on him throughout the film. He is sure to garner laughter from the kids, but Japeth will likely wear out his welcome quickly with the adults.
The good moments in Hoodwinked Too are so few and far between, you may need your own breadcrumbs to figure out what you even laughed at. In the current climate of animated films, we have been spoiled by films that have heart, laughs, and cross all ages. There is little justification for the extra dimension and the film doesn’t have the same appeal nor smarts that its predecessor had. Hoodwinked Too isn’t a bad way to spend 90 minutes, but it’s not something I would recommend.