Everyone likes Hoodwinked, right? It was clever, unexpected, and looked pretty good considering how astoundingly low its budget was. It was a real sleeper hit that ended up grossing over one hundred million dollars at the box office (factoring in international as well as domestic). So naturally, a sequel was planned… that came out five years later. Not only that, but it was a terrible piece of garbage according to critics. Well hell, I’m sure you guys like to see me in pain, so why don’t we give this one a shot?
The movie begins with something truly sinister and evil.
No joke, the studio who made the film sued The Weinstein’s for (among other things) delaying the film. That however still does not justify the shitty movie that we are about to experience.
So we get a pretty odd opening where the main characters are listed and who voice acts them. I’m guessing this is to evoke an ‘old Hollywood ‘ feel for the movie, though frankly this just reminds me of Monty Python and the Holy Grail which is a high bar you do not want your comedy to be measured against. The one that sticks out to me though is The Woodsman.
The movie catches us up on the events of the last movie (the bunny did it) and we are introduced to the HEA (Happily Ever After agency) whose job it is to “give everyone a happily ever after.” All the characters from the first movie (sans The Woodsman) have joined the agency, so Red, Granny, The Wolf, and Twitchy the Squirrel are working together as Fairy Tale Swat.
After the back story, we see that Granny and Wolf are on an assignment to stop a witch from eating Hansel and Gretel; so you know, Waco for kids! Wolf won’t stop bitching about Red not being there because she’s getting secret training. Why he gives a shit is still a mystery but hey, we can make some educated guesses.
It’s only about five minutes in and I can’t figure out why anyone would tolerate Wolf’s antics. He complains constantly, he ignores everyone else, and decides to execute his own plan without letting anyone else know what it is. I don’t even know why this guy agreed to work for the HEA. Wasn’t he an investigative reporter in the last movie?
The first thing you’re going to notice about this movie is that it won’t shut the fuck up. Every second, someone is cracking wise like a smart ass or throwing out some random joke. Sometimes this can work, but there are two problems. The first is that every joke is in the forefront. They don’t save the good jokes for you to focus on and throw some extra ones in the background for you to catch. Nope, every line, every remark, every incidental action is put right in your face, which makes the whole movie feel incredibly staged and phony. The second problem is that almost every single joke is bad. They’re either the most obvious jokes you can say in the given situation, or their just baffling and confusing. I’ll give you an example. Next up is a chase scene, and I’ll try to list all the jokes. The set-up is that the evil witch has a rocket broom and is escaping with Hansel and Gretel.
- Granny says “oh no you didn’t” before chasing the witch on her motorcycle wearing the Bruce Lee yellow jumpsuit.
- Wolf and Twitchy jump into the motorcycle’s side car and Granny says “Buckle up homies”
- Granny makes a big jump in the air and Wolf says “Whoa! Ten and two Granny!”
- Wolf then follows up (in a monotone voice) with “You know, now I’m regretting that burrito.”
- We hear Hansel and Gretel say “Help us. She has put us in little cages which is dehumanizing.” “We are like delicious veal!”
- Wolf sees a log in their path and shouts “Tree in the way!” and Granny responds with “Oh put on your man pants Wolfie.”
- Granny does a front flip over the log (???) and Wolf starts saying the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer, which doesn’t make sense because he’s not going to bed. He’s in a motorcycle chase.
- After landing from the front flip, Wolf says “Can we go back for my stomach? It’s pink, shaped like a football, and has my lunch in it.”
- The witch says “Better catch me; I’m getting puckish” for which Granny responds “Which is wack!”
- Granny asks Wolf if he can handle a bike like hers and then goes on a long rambling story about his childhood (I think he’s actually talking about Fonzie’s life), uninterrupted so that we can hear every last word of the unfunny story.
- After driving the motorcycle off a ramp, she tells Wolf to take the wheel, jumps into the air and shouts a variation of “yippie ki-yay”
The chase goes on for a bit, but I’m going to stop it there. In total, that was 65 seconds of the movie. Do a little math and we find out that they did a joke every ten seconds, which considering how unfunny the above jokes are, means this movie is assaulting us at an almost constant rate. I’m not going to list every god damn lame ass joke this movie has, but rest assure that they keep this pace up for most of the movie. For Christ sakes, Patrick Warburton is a national treasure, and you do THIS to him? In the first movie, his deadpan delivery worked but watching this movie, he just sounds bored as hell. His performance never gives off the impression that Wolf is aware of where he is and the stakes at play. It’s easily Warburton’s laziest performance, which should be enough to condemn this movie to the cheapest bargain bin of movie Hell.
What the hell was I talking about? Oh right. So Granny catches up to the witch, but it was a trap to capture her. Wolf tries to save her, but fails and Granny tells him he’s worthless without Red (not quite those words, but that’s basically what she’s saying). Wolf laments over this and we cut to Red crossing a bridge when we get to the NEXT thing in this movie to horrify me to my core.
Get it? He’s big and ugly and popular culture leads us to think he’d have a deep and imposing voice. Instead he’s an offensive caricature voiced by David Alan Grier. Ugh… so Red has to deliver her basket to the temple on the other side, and has to get past the troll. If I’ll give the movie any credit, it’s that the visuals have improved over the last movie. The animations are somewhat smoother, the character models are more expressive, and overall the film seems to have been given that extra render that seemed missing from the last film. That’s not to say it’s great. It still ranks at about a C+ compared to other CG movies out there, but it is an area of improvement. The fight scene is okay I guess (even if there is a question of how damn long Red’s sash is).
Unfortunately for her, she ends up failing the mission because she never got around to watching Back to the Future Part 2. Despite getting past the troll with her basket, she goes back to kick his ass after he taunts her.
The basket falls off the bridge (this time, she doesn’t bungee jump for it) and the mission is deemed a failure. This could have been an effective scene, where Red realizes a flaw she has to overcome, but it’s ruined because the damn Troll will not shut the fuck up. Seriously, it’s like the worst fucking example of that Patton Oswalt bit about punch up writing.
So Red is training at the Sisterhood of the Hood where she’s learning to be a badass… or something, when she gets a call on her cell phone (let’s say it uses magic instead of cell towers) informing her that Granny was kidnapped. It turns out that the witch is planning to extract a super-secret recipe from her that’s been kept secret for over a thousand years. Apparently it’s for the Super Truffle which makes anyone who eats it unstoppable.
Red goes all Luke Skywalker, and heads back to the HEA before completing her training, though the grannies seem pretty cool with it. Next scene is actually a pretty decent one where the witch (it’s clear she’s wearing a mask, so her identity is still a secret) is interrogating Granny. It works because it takes place in a single room and there are only two characters. The jokes aren’t great, but the movie slows down enough to actually ACCOMPLISH something with this scene rather than try to bombard you with lousy humor. Granny is given an ultimatum to either make the Super Truffle, or let Hansel and Gretel be baked by the witch, so now we have a ticking clock.
So after that, we’re back at the HEA where Red and Wolf start immediately fighting. The guy in charge (Nicky Flippers) tells them they have a lead which is a criminal that’s a giant who, on top of many crimes, blogs about animated films. At this point, Wolf says “He should get a life.”
You really feel like you’re in a position to talk down to anyone Hoodwinked Too? I don’t care what you think about what people like me do, I care that you’re making an unbearable piece of shit. Also, you wouldn’t feel the need to put that little jab in there if you thought that people would actually like this, so shut up and try to entertain me for the next 67 minutes, though I doubt you’ll be able to.
Red, Wolf, and Twitchy head for the giant’s nightclub which is located in San Francisco.
Now’s as good a time as any to bring up another huge problem this movie has. They never establish any rules for how this world works, when this takes place, if this is America or fairy tale land, where technology ends and magic begins, it’s all incongruous in every scene. We have magical creatures, but then people are carrying cell phones. Granny makes a joke about the 60’s, which means that this has to be somewhat contemporary, but the big bad weapon is a formula for a damn truffle. From scene to scene, it’s hard to know what to expect which means you get pulled out of the movie every single time something like this happens. Anyway, they make it to the nightclub and Wolf once again shows that he’s completely unqualified and unprofessional. Red on the other hand knows what she’s doing, and is actually trying to complete the mission in an intelligent and stealthy manner, which means she goes right up to the fucking stage of the nightclub and starts asking a secret informant questions while they are singing.
Shockingly, the goons notice her asking questions, and take her to the giant, who is played by Brad Garret
I actually like Brad Garret in most of his work, and he brings a lot of life to this character. Sure he’s a cliché gangster, but at least he’s putting something into the performance and it’s entertaining to watch. Red’s hot headed attitude almost gets her crushed, but luckily Wolf comes in the nick of time in one of his stupid disguises to distract the giant while Twitchy grabs the informant (he’s a harp. Get it?). The giant realizes what they are up to and chases them down the beanstalk (in this case, a giant metal tower) while our heroes learn from the harp that Boingo the bunny is involved with Granny’s kidnapping. If you don’t recall, he was the surprise bad guy in the first movie, and I guess they needed an excuse to give Andy Dick another paycheck, so off to Arkham Asylum to see what Hanibal Lecter is up to. Boingo is actually pretty good in this scene where he’s trying to manipulate Red and Wolf the way Lecter did to Clarice. It’s also another scene that’s not trying too hard to make you laugh so we’re spared from as many awful jokes for a few brief wonderful minutes. Unfortunately, there’s almost no justification for this scene considering how little it makes sense. If I understand this correctly, the witch would give Boingo a list of ingredients she needs, and Boingo would SOMEHOW get someone to buy those for him to deliver to the witch. It seems clear that Boingo doesn’t get much free time, so how exactly is he supposed to place orders for ingredients from behind bars?
Not only that, but why can’t the witch buy them? Are these illegal ingredients? Wouldn’t the asylum be monitoring all outgoing calls for just this fucking reason? Anyway, Red and Wolf are back to square one which doesn’t sit well with the two of them and they end up fighting. Wolf exasperatingly says that everyone is right about him and painfully admits that he’s worried he’ll get everyone else in trouble because of his antics. Did I say “exasperatingly” and “painfully”? Sorry, I meant in the same monotone voice that he’s been using the entire movie. This is what I was talking about when I mentioned that Patrick Warburton’s performance gives no indication that he’s aware of what’s going on. The emotional impact that this scene is supposed to give us is completely lost because he’s either acting very poorly or the direction for him was terrible. The scene ends with Wolf and Twitchy walking away from Red and Red finding a clue that simply says D.C.T.
After this, we go back to Granny who makes a valiant escape attempt which is destined to fail because we’re only 35 minutes into the movie. Wait, we’re only 35 minutes in!? At this point, it’s revealed that Hansel and Gretel are in on the plot and are the ones in charge of this whole evil scheme.
This scene also reveals to us the identity of the witch, who turns out to be a former member of the sisterhood who always came second to Granny. Driven by her jealousy, she stole the recipe several years ago (no one noticed apparently) and has been trying to make the super truffle since. Now with the help of Hansel and Gretel she might be able to accomplish her goal.
This scene ALMOST works. I really do feel bad for her, but it gets ruined because they had to start doing shtick in the middle of the backstory. “Why are you telling me this? I was there.” “Did you rehearse this speech?” It just undercuts what could have been a great scene. That seems to be happening a lot in this movie. Some scenes have potential, but they’re wasted in an attempt to fill as much screen time as possible with jokes.
The next scene is a rather odd montage where Red’s looking for what D.C.T. means, but it turns out that the city is FILLED with D.C.T. stuff and she starts asking random people if they know what D.C.T. stands for. There’s actually a bit of disconnect here where we can see that almost every business has D.C.T. initials (Desmond’s Clocks & Timepieces, Duck Capture & Taxidermy, Disgustingly Cute Toys, etc) but all of the people she asks give her a shrug, like they’ve never heard of the numerous businesses around them with those initials.
She finds out that D.C.T. stands for Dark Castle Towers, which is where Granny is being held. Red goes there and tries to get backup from HEA, but apparently Hansel and Gretel can listen in on their calls and sends a bunch of pigs to attack HEA. While HEA is under attack, we see that Wolf is doing what I’m usually doing; Sitting on his ass watching too much TV.
Him and Twitchy have a heart to heart and decide to go back to HEA, but before they can leave, The Three Little Pigs (voiced by Cheech, Chong, and Samurai Jack) role up in their van and blow Wolf’s trailer sky high. Also they named Chong’s pig Stone because he was famous for being stoned. Get it?
Wolf and Twitchy escape and help Red out of a jam. They come up with a plan that requires them to grab another character from the last movie, The Woodsman.
With the help of The Woodsman and his band, who apparently were former mercenaries (sure, why not) they invade the castle, take out the pigs, and try to get Granny back. They fall for a trap though which leads to Wolf and Twitchy being incapacitated, and Red accidently figuring out the missing ingredient before getting captured. With the formula in hand, the three villains begin creating the super truffle, and all appears to be lost for our heroes (except that we still have 1/3 of the movie to go). Hansel and Gretel’s plan is to sell the truffles to any villain willing to pay, but first they try it out for themselves. The power of the truffle makes them much bigger than they were before… which doesn’t seem all that impressive considering that the giant from earlier is still much bigger than them, but whatever.
Of course, the twins betray the witch and leave her, Red, and Granny to deal with a giant spider. Right before the spider attacks, The Woodsman with his fabulous band mates barge in to save the day.
The witch almost falls to her death, but Granny saves her which means she’s going to be instrumental to defeating the twins because that’s how these kinds of stories always play out. I actually really like the witch because her plight is very relatable, but like most things I like about this movie, she’s really cliché and I’ve seen characters like this done better.
The fight begins with Red chasing down the twins and getting a few hits in, but by the time the rest of the crew get there (Granny, Wolf, Twitchy) she’s taken a few lumps. They barely escape the twins and end up in a monorail car which the twins throw and it impossibly lands on top of the castle. There’s the old “everyone keep this thing balanced” scene where everyone gets a chance to say what they’re sorry for before the car inevitably fall off the roof and they crash to their deaths. Except they don’t because the witch (along with the spider they fought earlier) saves them from crashing.
They try one more time to stop the twins which goes pretty well. Red gets the truffles and begins escaping with them when Hansel calls her a coward. Red gets angry, drops the truffles and immediately gets pounded into the dirt by the twins. The twins then eat the remaining truffles and become all powerful. Except they don’t! It was all a ruse to get them to eat too many truffles which turns them into giant balls of useless fat.
The movie ends with HEA taking the twins away and Red and Wolf racing off to another assignment. Without credits, the movie barely clocks in at an hour and 15 minutes, but good god did it feel longer.
The first Hoodwinked was an odd treat. It was low budget (for a CG film) but had some sharp writing to carry it through to the end. In hindsight, it’s not quite as good as people think it is, but it is above average and definitely better than its budget would indicate. The problem is that the sequel doesn’t even feel all that connected to the original story. I’m not saying they needed to repeat the Rashomon gimmick, but making your sequel a spy parody is one of the clearest signs that you had no idea what you wanted to do with the sequel (just ask Pixar about that). This was a huge disappointment that ended up being exactly what we feared the original would be. A disposable, low budget, kid focused but insultingly patronizing, cash grab. I don’t want to see a sequel to this. The characters are not endearing enough that I’d even want to risk sitting through another crappy sequel. Let’s all just remember how good Hoodwinked was and forget there was a second one. We’ve done it before, we can do it again.