Toon Talk - From the Other Side: Hoodwinked
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by Kirby C. Holt
Produced by Blue Yonder Films/Kanbar Entertainment
Released by The Weinstein Company
MPAA Rating: PG
Toonz N the Hood
With computer animation companies popping out of the woodwork en masse, apparently just about anybody can make an animated film these days. But should they?
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for an abundance of animated features; competition is good for creativity and all that. On the other hand, as Pixar has consistently proven, technology may have made these films quicker and easier to produce, but it doesn't mean a thing if you don't have a solid story, one with relatable characters and original ideas. This increasing Shrek-ification (layering on pop culture references and cheap gags and hiring every possible celebrity for a voice cast) has created a full-scale homogenization of the computer animation medium. Even Disney's Chicken Little fell victim to this trend, a trend that can be directly traced back to that ogre-sized hit of DreamWorks Animation.
Shrek has an even greater influence on the subject at hand, Hoodwinked, the first animated feature produced in tandem by Blue Yonder Films and Kanbar Entertainment and released by former Miramax-ers The Weinstein Company, which opens in wide release January 13. Like Shrek (and Shrek 2 ... and Ella Enchanted ... and Disney's upcoming Rapunzel: Unbraided ...), Hoodwinked takes the basic aspects of a fairy tale (here, "Little Red Riding Hoodâ€?) and subverts it, viewing its familiar tenets through today's ironic/cynical eyes.
(c) The Weinsten Co.
Whereas the tale of the girl who cried wolf is a bit shallow for feature-length, co-directors and screenwriters Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards and Tony Leech have multiplied it by telling the tale fourfold, unveiling it from the different perspectives of the quartet of cast members: Little Red Riding Hood (here just "Redâ€?, voiced by Anne Hathaway), her Granny (Glenn Close, in an unrecognizable vocalization that makes you wonder why they hired her in the first place), the big bad Wolf (deadpanner extraordinaire Patrick Warburton) and the Woodsman (James Belushi, also indistinguishable - no wonder journeymen voice-over actors are none too pleased about Shrek-ification either). The four suspects have been gathered for questioning by ace detective Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), a foppish frog in a dapper suit and William Powell moustache, out to crack the case of a rash of "goodyâ€? recipe thefts plaguing the forest (a forest whose inhabitants evidently subsists on the kind of "goodiesâ€? one can find in Red's basket as their only form of nourishment).