Look, everyone enjoys a pop culture reference. Sure, it dates the movie infinitely about a week after it’s released, but if you’re generating a laugh out of it, even in the short term, it gets a pass. Plopping a Silence of the Lambs nod into a kid’s fairy tale? That doesn’t make any sense.
There’s not a kid watching who will get the, “Hello, Clarice” reference as Red Riding Hood (Hayden Panettiere) interrogates Boingo the Bunny (Andy Dick). It’s made even worse when Hoodwinked Too! begins tossing in parodies for the sake of parodies, a late Star Wars nod sort of there for the sake of it. The latter isn’t connected to anything.
Following six years after the original, this animated sequel doesn’t look any better or play out any differently. It’s a clumsily constructed tale of Hansel & Gretel going up against the HEA (Happily Ever After Agency) in their quest for world domination. With no hesitation, Hoodwinked exists because of Shrek, taking the public domain realm of longstanding fairy tales and riffing on them. Shrek, of course, did it better.
Hoodwinked can toss all the names it wants on screen during the opening credits. It’s wonderful they spent the money to hand Glenn Close, Joan Cusak, Patrick Warburton, Brad Garret, those guys from Up in Smoke (also clearly referenced for the little ones), and Bill Hader paychecks. More power to them. Saving the money on the free source material and not putting it towards the animation doesn’t benefit anyone.
Everything feels squandered, this 75-minute piece dragging its feet with a time wasting balancing act involving a bus, running gags about a brutalized singing goat (that plucked from Ice Age’s Scrat), and the ideas of four different writers. Hoodwinked Too! needed to concern itself less with named voice actors and more on a contained, gag-riddled narrative.
Despite being almost textureless and a cut below on the animation scale, Hoodwinked Too! is still a beautiful piece of work in hi-def motion. For the kiddies, bright colors are used extensively, from Red’s, uh, red hood to the glitzy interiors of the city’s castle. Skies prove to be various rich blues, and explosions are spectacular in their warmth.
Hoodwinked is never anything less than razor/chainsaw/scissor sharp, the resolution holding enough bite to reveal the pitiful fur on the Big Bad Wolf. Panning and establishing shots of locations, whether its the thinly disguised New York or training grounds Red spends the first act honing her craft, every rivet, line, and window remains in view.
Black levels prove outstanding, testing their mettle in the evilest of evilest castles, dark corners of the HEA facilities, or nighttime chase scenes. Despite the lack of textures, Hoodwinked carries a full bodied dimensionality, images leaping from the screen, proud to display their tremendous depth.
Anchor Bay pumps out an AVC encode for this animated farce, compression that generally stays out out of the way. Fast action remains precise and clean, the complexities of the action never appearing challenging for the wonders of AVC. Picking a fault to discuss leads back to the banding that creeps in early on during the opening chase scene, the sky struggling to keep the hue transitions smooth.
Hoodwinked Too’s DTS-HD audio presentation isn’t quite as smooth sailing as the video, lacking the aggressiveness and precision of more routine studio animation. Why spend the money on sound designers when the cast on the cover looks better? It’s not that Hoodwinked sounds terrible; anything but. It feels so small though, a great example coming inside the club after Red and Wolf are discovered. They begin running, clamoring over animal patrons and tables, only a handful tracked into the surrounds or stereos. Screams of panic from the customers barely eek out an existence anywhere except the center.
There’s a definite effort to squeeze out some wow factor as the three pigs begin a rocket launcher assault at 44:14, the bass rather relentless as each missile hits a target (or misses entirely). A lot rides on this sequence, probably the auditory highlight of the disc, a showcase for what it is capable of. The footsteps of an overgrown Hansel and Gretel as they tear apart the city don’t even come close matching the depth or power generated by the attempted assassination.
Barren describes the bonus features, the only thing decent here being a section titled The Voices. Five of the main actors are profiled with plenty of shots coming from the sound rooms, intermixed with the usual glowing praise. Two storyboard sequences are given their due, and three music videos will only make you appreciate how terrible the songs were. Some production art and trailers for two mobile Hoodwinked games are left.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.