Review of Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil

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The sequel to 2005's "Hoodwinked!" has Red Riding Hood (Hayden Panettiere) in training with a mysterious group called the Sisters of the Hood.

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Movie Review: "Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil" --

Rating: PG
Length: 86 minutes
Release Date: April 29, 2011
Directed by: Mike Disa
Genre: Animation/Comedy/Family
2 out of 5 Stars

"Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil" picks up where the last film left off. Red Riding Hood (Hayden Panettiere) and the team have joined the Happily Ever After agency and are helping Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers) track down and arrest the greatest threats to the fairy tale lands. Unfortunately, Red has gone AWOL and the team is on the verge of breakup. The film lacks the punch of the original's "Rashomon"-style take on fairy tales and is likely to only enthrall younger audiences.

Each character gets a bit more screen time than in the original film, but fans of Granny Puckett (Glenn Close) may wish there was more of her and less quick costume gags by The Big Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton). Twitchy (Cory Edwards) has a lot more to say in this film, and his voice is slowed from the original, letting people more easily understand the humorous squirrel. Red is a much more developed character, and her struggles with inner issues dominate the other elements of the plot. This provides the only real emotional thread in the movie.

The animation of the film fails to live up to its predecessor. The characters appear stunted, with more activity taking place in the film's backdrops than the faces or movements of the animated stars. In many ways, it feels as if a step backwards from the animation of the first film has been taken, though this is probably because there was little action in the original movie compared to the flurries of activity that emerge in this film. Cameos from such idols as Cheech and Chong or Heidi Klum add a fun mix of humor to the movie but ultimately don't provide anything in the way of plot or emotional connection.

The voice-acting is top-notch, even if stilted animation sometimes detracts from this. Panettiere, Stiers, Close, Warburton and Edwards all stay true to their characters and keep the animated stars believable and endearing. Kirk, portrayed by Martin Short, has only a short cameo in the beginning, with a much bigger role as the film stampedes towards its close.

The plot emerges fairly strong at the beginning and takes an all-too-familiar path to the film's climax. Moviegoers familiar with Hollywood tropes will quickly figure out the few twists the plot plans to take before even a quarter of the film has rolled, and no additional surprises will occur for most fans. This is a sad departure from the original film, and more twists would have definitely elevated the movie.
The film's finale is one of its saving graces. As the action ramps up, the storylines introduced in the beginning of the film begin to come together. This enables an even deeper look at the characters, and audiences are likely to enjoy the advanced humor and many sight gags or cartoon cameos that appear during this more exciting part of the film.

Attentive moviegoers are likely to be able to piece together everything that has come across the screen during the climax, but it is unnecessary as the film relies heavily on exposition to ensure that no one misses the few remaining plot threads. Adult viewers may feel insulted by the movie's catering to young audiences, and only a few pop culture or historical nods are likely to elicit a chuckle from more mature watchers.

The movie's direction falls flat in many areas, giving the film an overall direct-to-video feel instead of a big screen classic. In an age where many animated films are spawning television shows with equal appeal, this movie may have succeeded in that arena. Catering to young fans and ignoring adults, who pay more to see the same movie as the children they bring, is sure to alienate many viewers and fans of the original film. The direction could have been saved with a greater focus on the storyline of Red or an emphasis on Nicky Flippers, but neither really gets a satisfying examination over the course of the film.

Overall, "Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil" has its fun moments and a few jokes for mature fans but fails to deliver on the promises made at the conclusion of the first movie. The snappy one-liners, puns on fairy tales and twists on favorite characters can't save it from the lack of interweaved plots and humor for all audiences that have come to dominate animated features in recent years.
"Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil" has enough elementary jokes to keep young children amused for the duration, but grown-up fans of the first movie might feel left out of the fun.