Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

I think that CGI animated movies are stuck in a pretty bad rut. Before going to see (the rather boring and uneventful) Monster House the other day I was tortured by endless trailers for CGI talking animal movies. We already have Shrek, Shrek 2, Finding Nemo, Over the Hedge, Ice Age, Ice Age 2, Shark Tale, Madagascar, The Wild and Chicken Little. Now we can look forward to the likes of The Barnyard, Open Season and the highly gay-looking Happy Feet in coming months. Are studios and writers incapable of coming up with anything else? All these movies really say to kids is that the world is a happy, colourful place filled with fun and joy.

Well, that's a lie. CGI animation opens up so many, many exciting possibilities for dynamic, subjective and otherwise impossible stories. Why are we constantly stuck with talking animals? Kids are not stupid, but in this world we are endlessly insulting their intelligence with moronic PC crap. Children have more potential than adults give them credit for and they deserve a better range of movies. The only good CGI animated kids movie I can think of in recent years is The Polar Express (okay, it's motion capture and not animation, but you know what I mean), but that's about to change with Hoodwinked.

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Most of you might unfairly dismiss Hoodwinked as a Shrek clone but it completely stomps all over anything our Scottish Ugly has to offer (which is nothing more than endless pop-culture references anyway). Beginning at the tail end of the story, Hoodwinked is told mostly in flashback, through Police interrogation, to the events leading up to Little Red Riding Hood discovering the Wolf in Grandma's bed. But this is not a story you've heard before. The Wolf is actually an investigative journalist (that's Chevy Chase's Fletch: same clothes, same personality, similar theme tune, same disguises and even some of the same dialogue) who has been tracking clues leading to a sort of corporate takeover of the forest. Someone has destroyed a lot of local business and plans to cap it all off with stealing Grandma's secret cookie recipe.

Told from Red's, Wolf's, The Woodsman's and Grandma's point of view, all four versions of the events connect in clever and unique ways. Every one of them is filled with loads of laugh-out-loud moments and some pretty cool action that never feels forced or contrived. There is not a single annoying character (rare for a kids' film) and it's hard to say who steals the show but if I HAD to choose, it would be Japeth the Goat.

From a technical point of view, Hoodwinked looks more like Jimmy Neutron than it does Cars), but you'll hardly notice it. The story is what counts and when it's as sophisticated and funny as this, it's only a minor, minor quibble. Made for a meagre $15 million (compared to $70 million for Cars), they might not have had the best animators of Pixar behind them, but it's still all good.

There's never a dull moment in Hoodwinked and kids will love it. It is, in one word, brilliant! The best kids' movie in ages and probably for the rest of the year. This is one franchise I really want to see more of.

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006
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The truth about Little Red Riding Hood.
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Read more Hoodwinked reviews:

John Gallagher ****
Susanna Krawczyk ****
Chris ***
Paul Griffiths ***

Director: Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards

Writer: Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards

Starring: Voices of Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, James Belushi, Patrick Warburton, Anthony Anderson

Year: 2005

Runtime: 80 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US


EIFF 2006

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