How long ago did the original Hoodwinked come out? It came out when there were only two Shrek films treading on the same fractured fairy tale territory. It came out when Anne Hathaway was new enough in her career to voice the lead character (her ascension as a dramatic actress would start with Brokeback Mountain, released the same month). It came out in that in-between period when all animated films were done with computers, but weren't automatically released in 3D. It came out in December 2005, so long ago that the kids who enjoyed the first one are now adolescents who couldn't care less about the second film, Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil. Even the filmmakers seem to be dragging their feet through a sequel that nobody asked for, and you can't blame the Weinstein Company for spending year delaying the release of this uninspired, disposable children's entertainment.
Coming completely unmoored from the Red Riding Hood fairy tale that gave structure to the original film, Hoodwinked Too follows the adventures of Red (now voiced by Hayden Panettiere) as she completes her training with the Sisters of the Hood, an organization of warrior fairy tale women who I don't remember from the original Grimm stories. Along with Granny (Glenn Close), the Wolf (Patrick Warburton) and a hyperactive squirrel (Cory Edwards, also one of the credited writers), Red is part of the Happily Ever After Agency, in charge of securing joyful endings for the fairy tale characters we know and love. In theory this new gig could see the gang dispatched into all kinds of different fairy tales in innovative ways, but instead they're sent on a rescue mission for Hansel and Gretel (Bill Hader and Amy Poehler, only intermittently funny) that turns into a whole mess about magical truffles and one disgruntled former Sister (Joan Cusack) who wants her moment in the sun.
The plot is ludicrously thin, and even at 85 minutes Hoodwinked Too is padded with throwaway gags and references to pop culture that kids couldn't possibly understand. The original film's villain Boingo (Andy Dick) cameos in a Silence of the Lambs-esque cell, and the Wolf goes on an extended riff based around, I kid you not, Happy Days. Edwards and his co-writer Todd Edwards seem content to throw any kind of joke or plot thread at the wall to see what sticks, but the ratio of good to bad is so dismal you may be too busy rolling your eyes to catch the occasional joke that sticks.
It's one thing to make a mediocre film that panders to children, but another to post-convert the entire thing into unnecessary 3D, twisting the knife even further into families who will be stuck paying extra for this because they've already seen Rio. Hoodwinked Too is bottom-of-the-barrel kid stuff that would barely be passable as an hourlong TV special, offering nothing but the bare minimum of bright visuals, slapstick humor and shallow life lessons. Even kids probably know better than to fall for this.
Reviewed By: Katey Rich
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