"Hoodwinked" is the first full-length feature animation film from Weinstein Co., the post-Miramax creation by the Weinstein brothers. A Rashomon-style story in which we get several different takes on the the tale of "Red Riding Hood," "Hoodwinked" is designed to lean more towards the Rankin and Bass animation style than the contemporary techno-wizardry of Pixar.
Admittedly, I am one of those folks whose grown weary of the technological warfare that seems to have invaded animated films and I do long for the days of simple animation and an actual storyline. Films such as "Madagascar," "Robots" and many other recent animated films have appeared as not much more than techno-fluff that serves as beautiful eye-candy without any substance.
Unfortunately, "Hoodwinked", despite its relatively simple animation style, offers little beyond the very basics and is unlikely to please even the most diehard Rankin and Bass fans.
The film starts at the end of the story and moves its way backwards, as we're treated to the initial confrontation between sassy Red (Anne Hathaway), the not-so-well disguised Wolf (Patrick Warburton), an extreme-sport loving Granny (Glenn Close), and the dimbulb Woodsman (Jim Belushi). After the traditional "ending," the screen goes black and we enter a room where detectives are sorting out the clues, suspects are being interviewed and "Red Riding Hood" Rashomon style unfolds.
Director Cory Edwards should be given credit for offering a rarity these days...an animated film with a story. Unfortunately, "Hoodwinked" offers one of the most basic of children's stories and offers nothing additional in terms of plot, story, animation, or intrigue to hold the attention of kids or adults. Likewise, while the animation style is simple, Edwards and his team still manage to build in distraction through the addition of songs, most of which will please only the smallest of children.
The cast does a fine job, but it's a rather sad state of affairs when the supporting cast steals most of the spotlight. Particularly strong are Todd Edwards (who also shares a co-directing credit with his brother), as a hyperactive squirrel named "Twitchy", Andy Dick as a rather creepy bunny, and Benjy Gaither as a scene-stealing singing goat.
"Hoodwinked" isn't really a bad film at all. It simply offers nothing new to the genre, and is far too generic to win much market-share in a crowded movie season. Released for one week late in 2005 to qualify for Oscar season, a nomination would be much more a testimony to the Weinstein purchasing power than to the film's quality.
Best suited to families with young children and those who wish to remember the simpler days of animation, "Hoodwinked" is a full-length animated feature that takes a simple story and simplifies it even further. The end result is a film destined to have a much longer life on DVD than in the theatre.