Friday, September 30, 2011

A Surprisingly Pleasant Sequel: Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil Develops The Franchise Better Than Expected!

The Good: Decent character development, Largely funny, Decent voice acting.
The Bad: Very predictable plot, No commentary track.
The Basics: Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil is an engaging continuation of Hoodwinked! that has a decent theme on the importance of teamwork, despite featuring adult allusions for much of the humor.

Almost three years ago, I met the woman who would become my wife. After a surprisingly short time of communicating via e-mail and online chats, she invited me out to meet her in Michigan and despite the fact that I could not actually afford it, I took her up on her invitation. That trip changed my life; we were married a little over four months later and we have been happily married since. That first weekend, we shared movies with one another. I brought Magnolia (reviewed here!), which she still holds against me to this day. I also rather stupidly, apparently, informed her that I had "a bit of a thing" for Anne Hathaway when she pulled out a copy of Hoodwinked! for us to watch together. Despite her general loathing of Anne Hathaway (her films and singing voice at least), I find it deeply ironic that she had an Anne Hathaway film in her collection before me. We both enjoyed Hoodwinked! (reviewed here!) and watch it an average of once a year. So, when we heard about Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil, we were both pretty excited (she was probably a little more excited considering Hathaway was not going to be in it). Unfortunately, the movie was only played locally for a week before it disappeared from our theaters and we missed seeing it on the big screen.

But last night, that changed when our local library got in Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil for us. The sequel, featuring Hayden Panettiere in the role Anne Hathaway had in the original, is a decent sequel, which does a good job of continuing the original and developing it beyond what it was. While Hoodwinked! was focused on Red Riding Hood becoming an empowered heroine while cracking the case of the goodie bandit, Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil illustrates the challenges to the Happily Ever After Agency when Red Riding Hood is not available.

Having, presumably, been on several missions with the Happily Ever After Agency following their induction, Red Riding Hood has taken a leave of absence to learn with the Sister Hoods in the mountains. She is, thus, cut off from the group when Granny Puckett is abducted and the Big Bad Wolf botches the case they were on when it happened. Granny, in trying to save the kidnaped Hansel and Gretel, is captured herself. Nicky Flippers contacts Red Riding Hood, who quickly comes to believe that Granny's abduction has to do with her knowledge of how to make a devastatingly powerful truffle.

Journeying to the Big City, Red Riding Hood rejects working with the Big Bad Wolf, irked because she blames him for Granny's capture in the first place. Trying to milk the local Giant for information, though, she is bailed out by the Wolf and soon comes to rely upon him for help. Working together, the pair infiltrates the castle in search of Granny. All the while, Granny comes to realize that her capture is no accident and she finds the responsible party to the crime!

Having not read anyone else's reviews of Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil, I'm not exactly sure why so few people actually seemed to enjoy the film. For my money, what I liked was pretty solid: the movie progresses the story and characters without simply rehashing the successful elements of the first movie. For sure, the plot is ridiculously simple and predictable, but there is a great deal of adult humor that hinges on an adult knowledge of popular culture. As an Alpha Geek, I can appreciate the many references and the fact that there are very few fairy tale allusions makes the work much more relevant to adults than children.

That said, the dominant theme in Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil is that is is important to work well with others. While this might seem like a terribly juvenile idea for an otherwise adult film, it works well as a reminder to adults in these cash-strapped times. No, it's pretty much the solid element for younger people in the movie. But why it worked for me was that it effectively illustrated how playing for a team does allow the strengths of each member to be used, something which is not often seen in movies today. Moreover, the theme is well-developed and Red Riding Hood painfully illustrates how a team is weakened when the most potent negative traits of a team member are allowed to dominate. Red Riding Hood's absolute belief in herself is over-the-top arrogance, which leads to a disastrous meeting with the Giant. But when she begins to rely upon her teammates, her innate strength and intelligence are able to come through.

The animation in Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil is quite good and the vocal performances are decent as well. Glenn Close reprises her role of Granny with ease and Patrick Warburton and David Ogden Stiers are trained hands at vocal acting, so their performances are flawless as far as vocal emoting goes. Hayden Panettiere does a decent job stepping into the role of Red Riding Hood and she pretty much makes it her own. Amy Poehler, Joan Cusack and Bill Hader do fine as Hansel, Gretel and the Witch, though Martin Short noticeably does not perform Kirk quite like Belushi did in the first film. For the most part, though, the acting is decent, easily living up to the expectations left from Hoodwinked!.

On DVD, Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil comes with a featurette on the vocal performances for the movie that is dominated by clips from the movie and storyboards. There is not a commentary track, but there are three music videos (none of which are stellar). Regardless, the primary material is engaging enough to entertain.

For other works featuring Amy Poehler, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Monsters Vs. Aliens
Southland Tales
Arrested Development


For other film reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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