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We have only 3D to blame for the arrival, six years after the original, of Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil, one of the most obnoxious and least necessary animated films of the century thus far; obnoxious because of the relentlessness with which it slams witless gags in the viewer’s face and unnecessary because, with a domestic box office take of $51 million, the 2005 original didn’t exactly demand an encore. Business this time around will likely fall in the same ballpark, although many who pay advanced prices will themselves feel hoodwinked by the entirely unremarkable 3D results on display.
One could as easily credit Hoodwinked for being ahead of the curve in Hollywood’s dubious new enthusiasm for reworked fairy tales as one could simply accuse it of being a rip-off of Shrek. Either way, the initial outing got a few peppery laughs out of its creation of the H.E.A., or Happy Endings Agency, a hitherto secret organization dedicated to ensuring happy endings to all fairy tales.
With the Little Red Riding Hood mystery having been investigated, Rashomon-style, the first time around, scrutiny now turns to Hansel (Bill Hader) and Gretel (Amy Poehler) who, far from being two innocent little kidnap victims, are big brats in cahoots with the witch to turn the tables on the agency and lord it over a city with a passing resemblance to New York.
If not before, it’s clear from the moment the overfed siblings zoom away from the gingerbread house with Verushka the Witch (Joan Cusack) in a jet-propelled motorcycle with sidecar what kind of movie this is going to be: frantic, hyperactive, pop culture referential and desperately unfunny. One thing that should be evident by now is that frenzied action and fast cutting are exacerbated, not enhanced, by 3D. It’s a principle ignored by the filmmakers here, to their misfortune; what you see and react to are the cuts more than the action within the frame, thereby diminishing the effect of the story and leaving the viewer as insensate as the endlessly battered cartoon characters.
Trainee agent Red Riding Hood (Hayden Panettiere this time, replacing Anne Hathaway), egged on by Granny (Glenn Close), takes her share of knocks as she learns how to use her red cape to fly around and generally make like Supergirl in the employ H.E.A. frog boss Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers). Ineffectual former colleague the Big Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton) is mostly sidelined here and a good thing too, as his down-home lazybones attitude saps the general energy whenever he’s around.
With others such as Cheech and Chong, Andy Dick, Martin Short (replacing Jim Belushi as the Woodsman) and even Wayne Newton also on board, you increasingly wish the generally stellar vocal cast had just been allowed to ad lib their lines rather than stick to the script, which splits at the seams in trying to be clever.
While still cut-rate, animation style overseen by director Mike Disa in his feature debut represents a slight improvement on the original.
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