Does anyone remember the original Hoodwinked movie? Nobody else does, either. Blue Yonder Films, the studio that brought you Doogal tries to pull another rabbit out of their hat by releasing a sequel to the twisted fairy-tale movie titled Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil. All of the original voice characters are present from the first film, except for Red (Anne Hathaway was replaced by Hayden Panettiere), and Kirk the Woodsman (Jim Belushi , who was replaced by Martin Short).
It doesn’t really matter if you’ve seen the first movie, as a storybook opening catches the audience up on the current situation. A short intro introduces the HEA (Happily Ever After Agency; shouldn’t that be HEAA?) staking out a Wicked Witch who is holding Hansel & Gretel (Bill Hader & Amy Poehler) hostage in her Gingerbread House. The main protagonist, Red Riding Hood (Panettiere) is off on training, and her former partner, The Big Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton) is handling the situation with Granny (Glen Close).
Of course, the seemingly simple scenario changes to a conspiracy which has actually been masterminded by the hostages, in order to drag a secret from Granny. Granny is a part of the Sisterhood of Kung-Fu Bakers (the “Hood” in the film’s title), and possesses the recipe of a secret weapon known as the Super Truffle, which supposedly makes those who consume it invincible. The movie has a small army of all-star cast members, and each one makes the most of their parts.
Unfortunately nearly everything else in the film misses the mark, from the writing, direction, and even the animation. Many other computer-animated movies today feel a lot more organic, and although the visuals of this sequel are better than the first there are times when character movements appear more programmed than motion-captured. Most of the jokes in the movie require one to have lived during the 70s or 80s, and nearly all of them are groaners. Jokes like “Dog is your co-pilot”, and a backwards sign where “dyslexic” is clearly visible are just too obscure even for the average adult. Sure, this is a family movie that should have something for everyone, but the preview theater I was in had a large mix of children and their parents, and there was only one time when the audience laughed as a whole.
There are a few running gags that did receive a positive audience response. Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong play two of the Three Little Pigs (hitmen for hire), and they received most of the genuine laughs. Another running gag was of a banjo-playing goat, who is constantly being fallen upon by other characters. This gag did get some chuckles, particularly from children, but was an obvious rip-off of “Scrat” from the Ice Age series, but just didn’t have the same charm. Most animated films either have amazing visuals, humor or heart, and the best ones blend these essentials together. Unfortunately none of these elements are present in Hoodwinked Too to make the audience feel for Red’s story, and the semi-warm victory at the end is simply “meh”.
You won’t be missing anything by skipping this film at the box office. It might be worth a rental when it comes out on DVD, but you and your family can still live a full and satisfying life without it.
2 out of 5 stars.