"Things Are Not What They Seem"
What You Need To Know:
While entertaining, HOODWINKED strips the moral lesson from the well-known Brothers Grimm folktale. The most famous version of the story portrays the woodcutter as a brave protagonist who rescues the girl and her grandmother from the evil wolf, but HOODWINKED replaces the traditional hero with an oaf, and makes the wolf a misunderstood loner. And, while the Grimm’s version teaches children to be cautious of the gentile lure of strangers, HOODWINKED hints at the idea that no one can be trusted. Ultimately, the movie muddles the lines between heroes and villains, as well as truth and falsehoods, and fails to leave its audience with any lasting impressions.
(PaPa, FR, O, B, V, M) Strong pagan worldview in which each character is motivated by his or her own desires and with relativistic elements suggesting that truth is subjective, a minor reference to witchcraft, and vague moral elements expressed in a song about being kind to others, including a thief pays for his crimes; no foul language; some cartoon violence; no sex; no nudity; no alcohol; no smoking; and, theft and misrepresentation.
HOODWINKED is an entertaining, but ultimately forgettable, postmodern spin on the classic children’s story Little Red Riding Hood. It was released for one week in Los Angeles in December 2005 to quality for the feature-length animation award at the Oscar® ceremony in early March. It opens wide on January 13, 2006.
The movie opens with Red (voiced by Anne Hathaway) visiting her Granny’s house. What initially appears to be Granny, however, is actually Wolf (Patrick Warburton) incognito. Suddenly, a manacled Granny (Glenn Close) explodes out of the closet while a slow-witted Woodsman (Jim Belushi) crashes through the window. The bedlam attracts Police Chief Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), a gentlemanly frog who heads a diverse police force that includes Grizzly (Xzibit), Stork (Anthony Anderson) and a host of pigs. Their investigation leads to the flashback testimony of the four litigants, with each separate account revealing that none of them are really who they first appear to be.
Granny lives an adventurous double-life. The Woodsman is an aspiring actor who makes ends meet driving a schnitzel truck. Wolf is an investigative journalist. And, Red is a spunky kung fu fighting distributor of Granny’s muffins. The story goes on to reveal that trouble has been brewing because of the Goody Bandit, a thief who has severely damaged the village’s economy by stealing recipes. Chief Flipper’s task is to string together pieces of truth from the conflicting testimonies (a la Akutagawa Ryunosuke’s short story “Rashomon”), identify the Goody Bandit, and bring the criminal to justice.
The creators of HOODWINKED have a few hilarious characters up their sleeve, and Patrick Warburton shines as the voice of Wolf, a personality which plays with the audience’s expectations of what the Big Bad Wolf should be. Regrettably, the story gives its most entertaining character, yodeling mountain goat Japeth (Benjy Gaither), only a few scenes with which to work, though Japeth easily steals each of these scenes. Twitchy, a squirrel voiced by director Cory Edwards, also draws a good share of laughs, with its ultra-caffeinated Alvin Chipmunk voice and dizzying hyperactivity.
HOODWINKED adds nothing new to CGI animation, which in and of itself is not a problem. The movie is still visually stimulating, and is more than enough to hold both the attention of its younger audience as well as accompanying adults. The songs, at times, seem oddly placed, and some are rather bland, but Japeth certainly picks up the slack with his side-splitting bluegrass countrified ditties.
Certainly the weakest part of HOODWINKED is that the moral of story remains ambiguous. While the most famous version of the Little Red Riding Hood story (as revised by the Brothers Grimm in 1857) portrays the woodcutter as a brave protagonist who rescues the girl and her grandmother from the evil wolf, HOODWINKED replaces the traditional hero with an oaf, and makes Wolf more of a misunderstood loner than a villain. And, while the Grimm’s version of the folktale teaches children to be cautious of the gentle, candy-coated lure of strangers, HOODWINKED hints at the idea that no one can be trusted, and that truth varies according to one’s perspective.
Such vague flirtations with moral relativism and postmodernism may or may not be intentional, and the Goody Bandit does eventually face consequences for his crimes. But, the movie’s muddling of the lines between heroes and villains, as well as truth and falsehoods, certainly should not be overlooked.
Parents used to be able to count on movies made for children to convey some basic moral message in the process of entertaining. HOODWINKED, however, fails to do so, and it likewise fails to leave its audience with any lasting impressions.