Hoodwinked (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards, Tony Leech
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080i AVC codec Running Time: 81 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 English, French
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
Region: none indicated
MSRP: $ 24.99
Release Date: February 15, 2011
Review Date: February 11, 2011
Rashomon meets the Brothers Grimm in Hoodwinked, a wry, wittily modern take on the classic fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood. Though Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine handled the tale in a much more sophisticated manner in the charming, satiric Into the Woods, Hoodwinked takes a completely different tack in approaching the story. What emerges is an animated film which should delight children and not bore adults, and the humor involved is actually much more slanted toward the family’s older members as the filmmakers explore the familiar tale from several different perspectives.
We all know the story of Little Red Riding Hood (Anne Hathaway) arriving at her grandmother’s (Glenn Close) house only to be greeted by a wolf (Patrick Warburton) dressed as Granny out for something other than her basket of goodies. But what if the police arrive and sit the interested parties down for separate interrogations concerning the incident? We then get four different takes on what happened: from Red, the wolf, Granny, and the Woodsman (Jim Belushi). What becomes clear is that there is a mysterious Goodie Bandit loose in the forest, stealing recipes and causing the closings of multiple snack shops due to his thievery. Can these interrogations led by Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers) and assisted by Detective Nick Stork (Anthony Anderson) get the real truth behind the differing accounts of the encounter and solve the baffling mystery of the stolen goodies?
Turning a famous old fairy tale into an episode of Law & Order (well, the Law part of the title) is a masterstroke on the part of screenwriters-directors Cory Edwards, Tony Leech, and Todd Edwards. If only they had been able to squeeze about fifty percent more jokes into their scenario, they would have had a real classic. The characters are all droll, modern counterparts to the ones in the stories we were read as children, and having them approach their situations with modern world attitudes opens the floodgates for potential humor. The movie, however, just isn’t funny enough. And someone had the bright idea to make this a musical which is another strike against the concept. While music works in one sequence, the banjo playing hillbilly Japeth the Goat (Benjy Gaither) who has to sing all of his speech due to a spell from a witch (and his song is catchy and memorable, something that can’t be said for any of the other tunes in the movie), it seems intrusive elsewhere and just excess film dressing that could have been eliminated. There’s no denying that the concept leads to some great scenes including the mining car sequence which features some terrific, first person point of view animation and Granny’s entire story which puts her about as far removed from quiet, kindly old Granny as it’s possible to be (and she has a hang gliding sequence that’s equal to the mining car scene earlier in the picture). Watching the movie for a second time, one has to admit that the filmmakers have rousingly fit their four differing point of view stories together superbly, and they work together as well as the three plays that make up The Norman Conquests do on the stage.
The voice cast is exceptional with Patrick Warburton doing an especially first rate job as the sneaky wolf with a sarcastic air about him and David Ogden Stiers the last word in pokerfaced interrogators as the frog Flippers. Xzibit lends a gruff, growly presence to Chief Grizzly, a bear (naturally), and Andy Dick makes several delightful appearances as the fluffy bunny Boingo who runs the valley’s cable car. Benjy Gaither's funny singing and characterization as Japeth gives Red's version of the story an extra zing.
The film is presented in 1080i using the AVC codec and framed at 1.78:1. Despite the interlaced transfer, the images are very solid (only the tiniest amount of moiré to be seen in fur and tall grass waving in the breeze). Colors are exceptionally bold and bright with no undue blooming of the greens or reds. There is also no banding in the image. The film ran in theaters in 3D, and one can easily see how dimensional the movie must have looked in that process. Even in 2D, the unusual animation techniques applied to this film give it a very individualistic look unlike any other CGI toon of recent memory. The film has been divided into 21 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix makes the most of the film’s reasonably small budget placing the well recorded dialogue mostly in the center channel (there are a few examples of directionalized dialogue) and most of the remainder of the sound mix across the front channels. Music does make its way to the rears, and there is a stray ambient effect to be heard in the rear channels as well from time to time. There is also a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 English track, but spending a few minutes with it didn't reveal it to be either a great advance or a great reduction from the lossless track.
The Blu-ray contains only one bonus feature: “The True Behind-the-Scenes Story” which finds the film’s three directors and its star-laden cast discussing the movie and their characters in this 30-minute featurette presented in 480i.
In order to get the other available bonus features, one must pop in the included DVD in the package which contains these bonus features:
An audio commentary with the three directors who offer a chatty, ingratiating take on their film. Since Todd Edwards also wrote songs for the movie, Tony Leech edited it, and Cory Edwards acted the role of the hyper animated Twitchy, all three men have much to bring to the microphone in discussing the long journey in making the movie.
All of the bonus video material is in nonanamorphic letterbox unless otherwise indicated.
There are five deleted scenes which can be played in one 9 ½-minute group and individually, each with optional audio commentary by director Cory Edwards.
A music video of one of the film’s songs “Critters Have Feelings” runs for 3 ½ minutes in 4:3.
“How to Make an Animated Feature Film” focuses on two of the film’s producers Maurice Kanbar and Sue Bea Montgomery along with director Cory Edwards as they relate their experiences in getting the movie made. It runs for 12 ¾ minutes.
The theatrical trailer runs for 2 ½ minutes.
The Blu-ray has 480i promo ads for Hoodwinked, Too and The Reef.
3.5/5 (not an average)
A fresh and funny take on a beloved old fairy tale makes Hoodwinked a delight for kids and adults. It was a poor decision to place the majority of the bonus features on the DVD rather than the Blu-ray disc, but the film itself looks and sounds marvelous. Recommended!