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Hoodwinked! (2006)

by on 2011/03/23

“What can I say? I was raised by wolves.”

* * * *

Give me a movie that features the voice acting talents of Patrick Warburton (The Emperor’s New Groove), a helium-voiced squirrel, a yodeling mountain goat and a Ben Folds song in the soundtrack, and I am right there. Right there.

A noired-up version of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Hoodwinked! is the criminally underappreciated product of writer-director Corey Edwards, his brother Todd Edwards and Tony Leech. I’ve seen this movie at least five times to date and it never seems to get any less funny.

When I read of plans for a sequel and saw the Burger King action figures for Hoodwinked! 2: Hood vs. Evil, I felt slightly vindicated in my deep affection for the first in the series.

The Burger King action figures were the hard plastic proof I needed. Hoodwinked! was good. Action figure good.

Hoodwinked!, like L. Frank Baum’s Wicked (The Wizard of Oz as told from the Wicked Witch of the West’s perspective), plays around with perspective and subjectivity. Hoodwinked! tells the classic tale from the point of view of not just one, but four of its main characters. “Four suspects and four stories.”

Tearing a page out of The Usual Suspects, the stories – those of The Big Bad Wolf, Little Red, the Woodsman and Granny – are told through police interrogations.  Hoodwinked! begins when Little Red Riding Hood traditionally ends, after the four are caught screaming in Granny’s bedroom.

The hard-boiled Columbo in this postmodern tale is a slick and shiny frog named Nicky Flippers, brilliantly voice acted by David Odgen Stiers (The Curse of the Jade Scorpion).

Kicking off the interviews with “Red” (Anne Hathaway), we learn of a forest-wide conspiracy to steal all of the goodies and their associated recipes. There are dark and mysterious forces at play – putting dessert counters, snack bars and muffin stands out of business.

To quote Homer Simpson’s immortal words: “first you get the sugar, then you get the power.” In this forest, s/he who controls the goodies, controls all the critters.

Red’s a sassy, independent spirit who longs for adventure. Unfortunately her job delivering piping hot cakes and other tea-time comestibles doesn’t offer any excitement. That all changes when her Grandmother’s shop is vandalized and Red finds a rock with the words, “You’re next” inked onto it.

She crams her Grandma’s secret recipe book inside her basket and  journeys up the mountain to Granny’s house. On the way, she plummets from a mountain gondola driven by the adorable bunny Boingo (Andy Dick) and is dogged by a menacing wolf (Warburton). When she finally arrives at Grandma’s house, she discovers that her grandmother is at once bigger, hairier, toothier and smellier than she ever was before.

And so the stories are told from the individual character’s point of view. The Big Bad Wolf, as he explains, has just been painfully misunderstood. He is, in fact, an investigative reporter with reason to suspect that both Red and Granny are the puppet masters behind the ‘Goody Bandit’ robberies. With hilarious nods to the Chevy Chase film Fletch (1985), we see the wolf in Fletch-inspired disguises, sweat bands and an afro on the basketball court, and in a suit and tie as the stammering health inspector.

I can not say enough about my affection, bordering on fan girl obsession, for the voice acting genius of Patrick Warburton. I swear this man could read the instruction manual for a steam mop and make it funny. As the wolf, Warburton is at his snide, smug, booming best.

A word on his sidekick Twitchy, the furry paparazzo to the wolf’s muckraker. Voiced by Corey Edwards, Twitchy the squirrel is one of Hoodwinked!‘s many secret weapons. His squeaky-voiced, “Never trust a bunny” is a staple expression in my household. Kudos to the entire team for not overusing Twitchy, a deeply entertaining character that in less disciplined filmmakers’ hands would have probably been plastered into every frame.

Hoodwinked! with its deep bench of interesting, hilarious characters doesn’t need to resort to repetition. Case in point is the perpetually singing mountain goat, doomed to spend a lonely but tuneful life alone in a mountain shack because a “mountain witch done” put a spell on him. These brief encounters with insanely funny characters never overstay their welcome.

If I had two quibbles about this movie one would be truly terrible German accent delivered by Jim Belushi as Kirk, the Woodsman. In this version, the Woodsman is, in fact, a Schnitzel truck driver who wants to be an actor. Kirk is asked by his director to “find his inner woodsman” to make good on a call back for a bunion cream commercial.

Funny stuff, terrible voice.

The other minor quibble is Granny (Glenn Close) whose hair looks like a grey, mutated O’Henry bar. Her back story was funny as well, a snack maven with secret obsession for extreme sports. But dear goodness, the hair, the clothes, the slack, sad-looking everything about this animated character. Talk about disrespecting the elderly.

All in all in all however, I really love Hoodwinked! And happily, Hoodwinked! 2 is due out on April 29, 2011. I will be right there again.

Right there.

* * * *

80 minutes

Rated PG for the frank depiction of an oak tree massacre and Andy Dick-grade sarcasm

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  1. Month in Review: May 2011 « Geek vs Goth

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