Back Shelf Beauties
by Willie Waffle

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That's how people will feel after buying tickets to this movie, which might be one of the worst animated films I have ever seen (and I had to watch Disney's Atlantis:The Lost Empire, so imagine the horror!). While the animation is atrocious, the story isn't much better, so what could be the redeeming trait in this movie? I'm still looking.

In a twist on the story of Little Red Riding Hood (because every wet behind the ears executive in Hollywood feels the need to take a beloved children's story and make it "hip" for the young kids of today by adding attitude and irreverence), snack shops and bakeries all over the forest have been getting robbed, and the thieves have made off with their best recipes. Red (voice by Anne Hathaway) decides she has to save grandma's (Glenn Close) popular secret recipes before the bandits get them, so she grabs these treasures and heads over the river and through the woods to grandma's house. Once there, she encounters a mysterious wolf (Patrick Wharburton), granny trapped in the closet (possibly with R. Kelly), and a crazy woodsman (James "I don't go by Jim anymore so I sound classier" Belushi). When the police show up, each participant is interviewed by private eye Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), who thinks this could all lead him to the real recipe bandit.

Who is the recipe bandit?

Hoodwinked stinks. Anyone who has seen a major animated film in the last 15 years will be shocked to see animation this technically crude in a movie theater. At a time when animators are able to make characters like Shrek, Nemo and The Incredibles come to life with amazing detail and reality, the characters in Hoodwinked will look like ones you may have seen in videogames on your computer screen in 1995. It's as if Hoodwinked was put together in some back alley with a Commodore 64. The moves are awkward, anyone who runs does so at a ridiculously slow speed, mouths don't move quite right when characters speak, and each one has a dull, lifeless look in their eyes (like Tara Reid on the deceased Taradise or Paris Hilton on anything).

Even worse, the story is overly simple and full of pop culture references 5, 10, 15 and 20 years old, and we're not talking about timeless references you remember with glee in your heart. Much like the movie's animation, co-writers/co-directors Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards and Tony Leech seem stuck in the 80's with references to Chevy Chase and Fletch filling the screen (maybe they wanted Chase and settled for Wharburton?). Each one feels forced and out of place, even the more modern allusions to The Matrix and Mission Impossible (which have been done to death), but they never stop coming. Even a failed joke about movie critics falls short, and we're the most easily mockable people in the world (only to be topped by politicians, used car salesmen and Paris Hilton or Tara Reid).

Worse than being unfunny, Edwards, Edwards and Leech give away the true bandit's identity too early in the film and stick us with a meaningless subplot about Red hoping to leave the forest. It's only good for some plot filler and a couple musical numbers to make sure the movie runs longer than 1 hour, which is not a welcome development for anyone glancing at their watch and praying for sweet mercy, especially as the conclusion is drawn out far beyond any acceptable period of time.

Sadly, even the lovely Hathaway and usually fantastic Close can't save this movie. Wharburton sounds like he is doing the same old tired Puddy character from Seinfeld (it's not as funny without the great Seinfeld scripts, and even Wharburton sounds like he is getting bored with it), and Benjy Gaither goes on and on and on and on as a goat with a musical number that feels like it lasts 20 minutes (I swear I thought Benjy Gaither was just an alias for an embarrassed Jeff Foxworthy trying to distance himself as far away as possible from this abomination. I guess Larry the Cable Guy was too smart to take the role, too.).

Hoodwinked might seem like a great idea for the kiddies, but you love those kiddies too much to subject them to this.

0 Waffles (Out Of 4)

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