HOODWINKED (Cory Edwards). 90 minutes. Opens Friday (January 13). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Here's a pleasant enough animated comedy for children that sets up Little Red Riding Hood as a mystery. Someone is stealing everyone's dessert recipes, and Red ( Anne Hathaway ), Granny ( Glenn Close ), Mr. Wolf ( Patrick Warburton ) and the Woodsman ( James Belushi ) are the prime suspects. Its a clever idea, and co-writer/director Corey Edwards keeps it moving nicely.
The Rashomon-like flashback structure gives a lot of the gags a second payoff when we shift to someone else's point of view. Clever, but much of the rest of the humour depends on simple sight gags or movie references that the kids may not get.
There are a few inventive, funny moments involving the over-caffeinated squirrel, the billygoat who sings all his dialogue and the detective frog who, weirdly, seems to be based on 30s gentleman sleuth Philo Vance. (Who remembers Philo Vance?) But overall, the humour is easy and predictable. The wiseguy Wolf (Warburton in the movie's best voice performance) gives his occupation as "shepherd."
Apart from Red's perpetually whiny face, the visuals are agreeable but nothing special, except for the charming opening/linking device in which a pop-up book turns into an animated forest. The characters seem too often confined by the limits of some imagined realism and offer nothing we haven't seen before in films like Shrek.
In the end, everything devolves into a typical action-movie climax like something you'd see in a big-budget blow-'em-up. It feels like the filmmakers ran out of ideas, and it turns our mild amusement to mild disappointment.