With the voices of Glenn Close, Hayden Panettiere, Patrick Warburton, Joan Cusack, David Ogden Stiers. Directed by Mike Disa. Rated PG for some mild rude humor, language and action. 85 minutes.
Try this theory on for size. The two big powerhouses for American animated movies – Pixar and DreamWorks Animation – will launch sequels to popular hits “Cars” and “Kung Fu Panda” in just a few weeks. If you’ve got a cartoon movie, you want to get it out before then or else plan on sending it right to video. So this winter and spring we’ve had “Gnomeo and Juliet,” “Hop,” and “Rio,” and if none of them were classics at least they were watchable to some extent. However, time is running short, which explains the release of HOODWINKED TOO! HOOD VS. EVIL. It’s filling in the gap between “Hop” and “Rio” and the upcoming releases.
The first “Hoodwinked” was released in 2004 and was immediately noticed for its poor animation and lame script. It’s not clear why anyone thought a sequel was necessary. Most of the voice cast is back, though, although Hayden Panettiere replaces Anne Hathaway as Red Riding Hood and Martin Short subs for James Belushi as the Woodsman. Why Glenn Close, Patrick Warburton, and David Ogden Stiers chose to return suggests they need to replace their agents.
The convoluted story required several writers, none of whom seem to know what to do with it. Hansel and Gretel (Bill Hader, Amy Poehler) have been kidnapped by Verushka the Witch (Joan Cusack). Law enforcement frog Nicky Flippers (Stiers) now employs Granny (Close), the Wolf (Warburton) and Red Riding Hood as part of his crack team. Verushka, however, gets away.
After several plot “twists” it turns out that this is all a big scam to wrest a secret chocolate truffle recipe away from the “Sisterhood,” a bunch of women who fight for the good guys including Granny and Red. Such is the low, slapstick humor here that the scenes of the Sisterhood’s lair has one of the elderly coaches hit the in the face with a rolling pin. Indeed, this is deemed so amusing it’s done a second time.
In spite of four writers and the involvement of such comedians as Andy Dick (returning as Boingo the Bunny) and Cheech and Chong, there’s nothing here likely to amusing anyone who measures their ages in double digits. Indeed, even those who are in the high single digits may find this beneath them. As for the poor parents who have to go along for the ride, you can only hope that the small fry don’t pick up Hansel’s “clever” way of cussing by saying, “Oh schnitzel.”
The 3D animation is mostly flat and large sections can be watched without the glasses, for which you will be charged extra. It’s adding insult to injury. “Hoodwinked Too!” is simply a place-filler, briefly stopping in theaters on the way to the DVD cut-out bin. Undemanding children may be distracted by it, but when you think of how easily youngsters can be distracted, that’s not really saying very much, is it?•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books, the most recent being Jar Jar Binks Must Die… And Other Observations About Science Fiction Movies. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville.