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(Glenn Close, Anne Hathaway, Jim Belushi, et al / DVD / PG / (2005) 2006 / Weinstein Company)

Overview: Little Red Riding Hood: A classic story, but there's more to every tale than meets the eye. Before you judge a book by its cover, you've got to flip through the pages. For this story, we begin at the end. Furry and feathered cops from the animal world investigate a domestic disturbance at Granny's cottage, involving a girl, a wolf, and an axe. The charges are many: breaking and entering, disturbing the peace, intent to eat, and wielding an axe without a license. Not to mention, this case might be tied to the elusive "Goody Bandit" who has been stealing the recipes of goody shops everywhere.

DVD Verdict: 'Hoodwinked' is an animated comedy with a good story, a colorful array of characters, and a silliness factor that occupies more of the material than it should; I have a feeling that a "Shrek" rival has yet to be made. What makes the film unique is that its a creative retelling of the Brothers Grimm tale "Little Red Riding Hood" from four different perspectives, in the classic "Rashomon" tradition. Apparently, the story is a lot more complicated than we could have imagined, with Red, Grandma, the Wolf, and the Woodsman intersecting with outside characters and having more off-the-wall motives than we thought. Instead of being the cute, innocent little girl from our childhood bedtime story, Red (Anne Hathaway) is a strong-willed, independent go-getter who makes deliveries for her Grandma (Glenn Close). The Wolf (Jeff Warburton) is not the bloodthirsty predator we always thought him out to be, but is instead a journalist out for a lead on the notorious Goody Bandit, a fiend who is stealing the treat recipes from every bakery in the forest (he is accompanied by a super-fast talking squirrel). The Woodsman (Jim Belushi) is, in fact, an actor hoping for a spot in a commercial, who manages to crash into Grandma's living room at a key moment, ax in hand. And Grandma has a secret or two of her own. We are introduced to a few other characters at the beginning of the film, before the key players step in to tell their versions of the story. Private Detective Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers) has been contacted to investigate the crime scene and to interrogate each of the four players, but he must also tame down the impatient Chief Grizzly (rap artist Xzibit) who is quick to pinpoint perps without evidence. Chief Grizzly's assistants are Officer Stork (Anthony Anderson) and the Three Little Pigs, who manage to fit the stereotypical image of police officers quite well with their pot bellies and gluttonous eating habits. That's all you'll get out of me, because explaining the details of the four perspectives will spoil everything, suffice it to say that each viewpoint lands the respective character in their Grimm tale position. Each character seems like the Goody Bandit. Maybe one is, or maybe not. But most of the film is each person recapping the day's events, with a climax involving the discovery of the Goody Bandit's identity and the race to stop his dasterdly plot to blow up the forest. The film would have been more fun, and better for that matter, had it not concerned itself with the Goody Bandit and stayed close knit with it's "Rashomon" style bulk. Here is a film with a great idea, and with brilliant takes on the original Red Riding Hood story, that is far too eager to jump to the pop-culture references and to ensue long-running gags. With each new joke, you become frustrated because you are already into film's mystery plot. This is a case in which the humor works as a distraction and not a natural output of the material. In truth, the fact is that 'Hoodwinked' is just as well-made as it has to be, but in an age where the "Shrek" films have taken society by storm, and "The Incredibles" have run rampant at the box office with a continuing series in talks, you'd better have a film that knows how to handle its material the right way. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

5 Deleted & Extended Scenes
Critters Have Feelings Music Video
How To Make an Animated Film
Commentary With The Filmmakers
Theatrical Trailer
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)