As if by deliberate and vaguely sadistic design, Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil leeches the fun clean out of the first Hoodwinked (2005). Six years between films is a long time, and here, when Kirk the Woodsman shows up and someone says something like “Hey! It’s Kirk the Woodsman!” those who missed the original are going to wonder what’s with the awkward exposition, while the rest will barely remember the character’s function in the story.
I liked Hoodwinked. Its animation was strictly functional but the writers plotted it well, and the competing-theories scenario, retelling the Red Riding Hood story from multiple perspectives, avoided the hammering quality of so much contemporary animated snark. The sequel, by contrast, almost dares an adult to like it. Director Mike Disa offers a barrage of generic action sequences — the movie barely even tries to be a comedy — decorated with morning-dew-fresh riffs on The Silence of the Lambs and Die Hard. Uccch. Again, with those movies! A. Appropriate? No. B. Funny? No. There is no C.
This time Hayden Panettiere voices the kung-fu-trained Red (Anne Hathaway in the original), who has taken time off from the shadowy Happily Ever After enforcement agency run by amphibious Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers, almost audibly holding his nose) to train with the Sisters of the Hood, a red-cape variation on the Green Berets, somewhere in the Himalayas or some such. In Red’s absence an evildoing crone (voice by Joan Cusack) makes off with Hansel (Bill Hader) and Gretel (Amy Poehler), plump children in lederhosen looking for better material. It’s up to Red, teamed with her old nemesis, the wolf (Patrick Warburton), to straighten everything out. Everything.
Everything except what isn’t there, which is nearly everything. The apocalyptic scale of the destruction in Hoodwinked Too! is a drag, and it tends, I think, to give preteens a paradoxically agitated sensation of too much and never enough. The first Hoodwinked was made on the cheap and grossed a little more than $100 million worldwide. Not a huge hit, but a hit. With hits on that scale, in theory, animation filmmakers can get away with more — more wit, more surprise, less formula. Hoodwinked Too! which runs an eternity-risking 85 minutes, plays like a jaded rehash of other pictures. And none of those other pictures, sadly, is the original Hoodwinked.
—MCT, Tribune Media Service Respond:firstname.lastname@example.org