April 15, 2006 -- “Hoodwinked” is an animated film based on the story of Little Red Riding Hood, but it's sly humor is probably too sophisticated for young children. The cultural references in the film range from fairy tales to popular rap music and films such as “Terminator,” “The Matrix,” James Bond and murder mystery movies. It is a delightfully whimsical, carefree film that is short on action, but long on funny one-liners.
It starts off like any other animated fairy tale with Red (voice by Anne Hathaway) arriving at her grandmother's house to find a thinly-disguised wolf (voice by Patrick Warburton) with a fake grandmother's mask. Soon a burly woodsman comes crashing into the room (voice by Jim Belushi) and a free-for-all begins. The police arrive and take all four (including Granny, voice by Glenn Close) into custody, suspecting that one of them is the mysterious recipe thief known as the Goody Bandit. When police begin to question the suspects, they find each of them has a very different version of what happened that day. It is up to a “Thin Man”-like frog detective, Nicky Flippers (voice by David Ogden Stiers), to get to the bottom of the mystery.
The mystery unfolds in much the same way as the mystery is revealed in Akira Kurosawa's classic film, “Rashomon.” Each story seems quite different than the others, but each is also cleverly non-contractictory and compatible with the others. Each story brings us closer to the truth of what happened that day. In addition to solving the mystery, the film also gives us a number of good musical numbers, most of them written by Todd Edwards, who wrote and directed the film jointly with Cory Edwards and Tony Leech. Particularly good is a musical number performed by an all-animal forest band called “Creatures of Habit.” Tye Edwards did the voice for Dolph, a bad guy with a voice that sounds a lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger's.
The film has a lot of good one-liners in it and many funny cultural references and Hollywood in-jokes. This movie is mainly for the teen to adult audience. There isn't enough action in the movie for kids, the jokes are too subtle, and there isn't enough slapstick humor in it to satisfy small children. The characters are interesting, especially the main characters and Chief Grizzly (voice by rapper-actor Xzibit), Japeth the singing goat (voice by Benjy Gaither) and Boigo the rabbit (voice by comedian Andy Dick). The 3-D digital animation in the film has a different look to it than most recent animated films. This difference is apparently due to the fact that the animation was done in the Philippines, and it is an independent film, not the usual Pixar, Disney or Dreamworks product. This film rates a B.
Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.