STUDIO: The Weinstein Co.
MSRP: $29.99
Deleted Scenes

The Pitch

“It’s Grimm’s Fairy Tales meet Rashomon, with less rape!”

The Humans

The throats of Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, Patrick Warburton, Xzibit, Jim Belushi, Andy Dick, and other unanimated humanoids surrounded by countless gigabytes of pixels and polygons

The Nutshell

A variation of the classic Little Red Riding Hood story (hooray for public domain!), Hoodwinked finds Red as Granny’s treat delivery girl, but the sassy lass is disenchanted with the enchanted forest and yearns to venture beyond. Returning to Grandma’s home, she finds her elder kin tied up and replaced by a wolf, a discovery suddenly interrupted by a thickly accented woodsman.

With the success of The Pacifier, Gary was shutting down and packing up for bigger and better places.

And that’s where the fairy tale quite literally gets fractured – the local police and a special investigator frog (voiced by David Ogden Stiers doing a respectable imitation of Kenneth Branagh) begin reconstructing the very different events leading up to the incident as told by the principals, slowly revealing multiple secrets and a larger series of crimes along the way.

The Lowdown

With its rigid animation and characters that resemble laminated dolls, Hoodwinked looks more like a children’s videogame cutscene or one of those vaguely creepy Rankin-Bass holiday specials (an apparent influence) than a viable contender to Pixar’s CG throne, or even those up-and-coming digital animation houses at the other major studios. But while the kid-to-adult humor level is certainly heavy on the adolescent end of the scale, the alterations to the original material are occasionally imaginative and irreverent — the Woodsman is an aspiring actor, the Wolf is a Fletch-like reporter investigating the realm’s recent string of failed businesses, and the story and its rather simplistic mystery fit together seamlessly.

Well, the Hollow Man is basically a digital creation…

It’s far from perfect — some of the elements feel a bit familiar (the admittedly amusing spastic squirrel) or annoying (a singing mountain goat) or long past played out (Granny’s big bombshell: she’s an award-winning EXTREME sports enthusiast!). The songs are also among the weaker aspects, though the filmmakers (Tony Leech, Todd Edwards and Cory Edwards) seem cognizant enough to spoof it — when the other characters witness Red singing her signature theme on her delivery rounds, you can hear the music Doppler away.

Laced with droll (yet relatively safe) pop-culture references and bursting with one-liners, the spunky script takes full advantage of the cast – guys like Warburton have vocal cords that were made for this sort of work, and there’s finally a use for Andy Dick. If the creators get their hands on a significant budget to graduate from garage filmmaking, they could be dangerous. And highly lucrative.

And with the sound of Spielberg’s lawyers calling, this scene abruptly ends.

The Package

Substandard animation aside (let’s call Toy Story the standard), the picture and audio are satisfactory. While their film is entertaining, the audio commentary by the filmmakers is surprisingly lackluster – they spend much of it mentioning/bemoaning the film’s independent beginnings and deficiency of budget. The brief featurette "How to Make an Animated Film" is more interesting, giving an overview of the project’s origins and process, and revealing several suspicions about the final product (additional squirrel and inclusion of irritating goat were demanded by children during the creative process). Rounding out the kit are storyboards of truncated or eliminated scenes, and an extended music video of one of the movie’s animated animal anthems.

7.0 out of 10