DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)

    Anne Hathaway as RED
    Patrick Warburton as THE WOLF
    Glenn Close as GRANNY
    David Ogden Stiers as NICKY FLIPPERS
    Xzibit as CHIEF GRIZZLY
    Jim Belushi as THE WOODSMAN
    Andy Dick as BOINGO
    Cory Edwards as TWITCHY

    Rated PG
    Studio: The Weinstein Company

    Directed by: Cory Edwards
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Ever since “Shrek” drove people to the theatres, it seems that everyone is trying to cash in on the green ogre’s flair. This was never more apparent in the disastrous film “Ella Enchanted,” which featured Shrek-like jokes, only ones that weren’t very funny.

It’s tempting to lump “Hoodwinked” in with the rest of these films. It is, after all, a CGI film that skewers the fairy tale genre. However, whereas many films tried to copy “Shrek,” “Hoodwinked” had a mind of its own.

The film attempts to tell the story behind the story of “Little Red Riding Hood.” It opens with the cliche fairy tale book we’ve seen in many a Disney film (as well as “Shrek”). We’re then led into the familiar situation in which Red comes to her grandmother’s house only to find the Big Bad Wolf disguised in the bed. As the Wolf attacks Red, the Woodsman comes in swinging his axe to save the day.

Here’s where “Hoodwinked” becomes brilliant. Instead of taking a “Shrek” route within the fairy tale world itself, the movie pulls itself out of that world, which is really only an illusion because it’s inhabited with talking animals. Soon, the movie becomes a cheesy cop movie in which Detective Flippers and Chief Grizzly grill the different witnesses to the event.

“Hoodwinked” is full of clever humor and fun jokes. Also, being a low-budget computer animated feature, the filmmakers knew they would never be able to compete with the work done by Pixar and PDI DreamWorks. So, they chose a more rustic approach. By not making the animation brilliant or awe-inspiring, they give themselves a pass when it comes out rather robotic.

Indeed, “Hoodwinked” proves that people come to see a movie because of the story and not the special effects. The animation isn’t even comparable to the original “Toy Story,” but the clever wit behind the plot and characters is.

Sadly, I missed “Hoodwinked” in its initial theatrical run. I’m not exactly sure why there wasn’t a screening for press in my area. Maybe it was because the studio felt the movie wouldn’t sit well with critics (a practice becoming more and more common among the Hollywood movers and shakers). Maybe it was because the newly launched Weinstein Company hadn’t quite worked the bugs out of its public relations system.

Still, even without critics’ praise and little industry buzz, the film raked in more than $50 million at the box office and saw tremendous weekly numbers throughout its theatrical run. See, us critics don’t know as much as you think we do.

The special features selections on the disc are great, with the highlight being a hysterical commentary track by the filmmakers. They do admit that they were bracing for DVD reviews of their commentary, so maybe that helped them be more clever. Or it could be because director Cory Edwards has a background as a stand-up comedian. Don’t worry, guys. I didn’t think you were self-important at all.

Other nice features include five deleted scenes with optional commentary (although not as funny as the feature commentary), a couple music videos featuring the characters from the movie and a short documentary about how they made a grass-roots, low-budget computer animated film.

Ultimately, “Hoodwinked” is the little movie that could in 2006. It’s got plenty of humor for the adults, and the kids should enjoy it too. If you missed it in the theatres, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Specifications: Dolby Digital Sound. Widescreen (1.78:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French language track. Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.

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