Hoodwinked! is a difficult movie to review. On the one hand, the filmmakers did something very special: they independently produced a computer-animated film that went on to gross over $110 million worldwide. At a time when Pixar and Dreamworks were already dominating the art form, this was no small feat. On the other hand, this looks like the low budget movie that it is.
It’s hard to tell how much criticism should really be heaped on this little movie. This was made on a very small budget without the backing of a distributor. Hoodwinked! was never meant to go toe-to-toe with industry giants, it’s a wonder it was even made at all. Still, the lack of quality in the animation is distracting. I know I’ve been spoiled by Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks, and fully realize that the spectacular visual quality I’ve come to expect from their films require tens of millions of dollars to recreate. But the complete lack of quality here is at times distracting. The style comes across as “direct to DVD” rather than the claymation-esque look the filmmakers were shooting for.
The only fair comparison that can be made between this movie and those produced by the major studios is the quality of the story. Hoodwinked! is a pretty ingenious concept for a kids movie. It parodies the Little Read Riding Hood fairy tale, recreating it as a crime drama told from multiple points of view. I wasn’t crazy about the execution (the jokes felt a little too derivative of Shrek), this style of storytelling is atypical for animated kids films and a bit of a gamble. One that looks like it paid off handsomely.
This low budget animated film came out around the same time that shows like CSI were just becoming popular. I really liked the concept of turning a popular fairy tale like Little Red Riding Hood into a mystery investigated by the local police.
Hoodwinked is the story of Red (Anne Hathaway) and how her visit to see Granny (Glenn Close) was thwarted by an seemingly villainous wolf (Patrick Warburton), before she is eventually saved by a clueless woodsman (James Belushi). After these events unfold, a frog police investigator (David Ogden Stiers) interviews all of the suspects to get their side of the story. The film is split up into four tales told from the point of view from each of the people being interviewed Red, Granny, Wolf and the huntsman. Each tale providing more clues as to what really occurred, and that maybe this case was never as cut and dry as the classic story led us to believe.
I still really like this movie’s concept. The biggest problem with it is that the film looks so dated now. The quality level in the animation is really low, even accounting for the fact that this film came out nearly a decade ago. The story is a lot of fun though. I enjoyed this new take on Red Riding Hood that has the scary wolf really being an investigative reporter trying to bust Granny’s criminal activities. It was a fun new take on an old tale. The voice cast is great too. Patrick Warburton (better known as Elaine’s boyfriend David Puddy on Seinfeld) is great as the wolf, and I have little time for him ordinarily, but James Belushi is fun too as the German schnitzel salesman mistaken as Red’s saviour huntsman.
While Hoodwinked is not on the level of a Pixar film, there is enough fun to be had here in this original take on a classic tale. I have to take points off for the poor animation, but other than that, this is a fun story that kids will enjoy, and adults might even chuckle once in a while too.