Red (as in Riding Hood) visits Granny, only to find the Wolf in disguise. Granny bursts out of the closet, and then the Woodsman crashes through the window, axe upraised. We then cut to the police investigation of this scene, as a frog investigator interviews each of the players in turn. The forest has been terrorized by the Goodie Bandit, who has been stealing recipes, and one of these characters might be the guilty party. What follows is a series of tales in the vein of Rashomon, wh…re we gradually come to understand what is really going on.
Doing irreverent reworkings of classic fairy tales is a tactic that has generated wonderful results in the past, and Red Riding Hood has been subjected to many, many such approaches (for a dark vision, see The Company of Wolves). The idea here is a good one, and there are some funny characters (such as the Wolf’s hyperactive squirrel sidekick Twitch, and a goat who is cursed to sing instead of speak), but there are two major problems. The first is that the film needed the manic energy of a Tex Avery, and instead is disappointingly restrained. The second is the animation, which is far too limited. The backgrounds are utterly motionless, and the characters themselves are quite stiff. A run-of-the-mill video game cut-scene is livelier. In sum: it’s funny, but not funny enough.
The sound is certainly acceptable, but like the animation, isn’t as exciting as it needs to be. There are some surround FX, but not that many, and they aren’t spectacular. In other words, the sense of environment is good enough to get by, but no more. Where’s the energy, people? Likewise, the score is perfectly workmanlike, but could certainly be more expansive. The voice work, on the other hand, is strong and free of distortion.
The colours are very good. They’re strong and bright, but (there’s that “but”) they stop short of being vibrant. While I understand this might be because of the film noir atmosphere, the result is an animated film that feels a little bit drab. All this said, this doesn’t not appear to be the fault of the transfer itself. The image is as sharp as one could possibly imagine (every hair on the Wolf’s face is defined), and there is absolutely no grain.
The commentary is by co-directors Tony Leech and Todd and Cory Edwards, and is a pretty solid one, generally avoiding the descent into the in-crowd silliness so many multi-participant commentary tracks fall prey to. There are five alternate/deleted scenes with optional commentary, a music video for “Critters Have Feelings,” and the theatrical trailer. “How to Make an Animated Film” is rather misleadingly titled – it’s the usual making-of featurette. The menu’s main screen is animated and scored.
It ain’t terrible, but it is only mildly amusing, when it should be so much more. A disappointment.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Making-of Featurette
- Music Video
- Deleted and Extended Scenes with Opotional Commentary
- Theatrical Trailer