Animation is traditionally geared towards kids. From Bugs Bunny to Monsters, Inc, cartoons have been a staple of kid’s viewing experience for decades. However, as time wore on, more and more adults have craved for animated experiences that not only are kid friendly but have adult nods so that the older audience can enjoy it. Shrek is probably the most famous of these types of pictures. Perhaps the sequel to Hoodwinked! can provide an equal passion to please both audiences.
Boingo the Bunny is locked up in the pen and the Happily Forever After agency is up and ready for business. The team is comprised of Red Riding Hood (or “Red” for short), Granny (Red’s grandma), Wolf W. Wolf, and Twitchy the Squirrel. They are overseen by Nicky Flippers, a very tall frog. At the time of the opening scene, Red is busy training with the Sisters of the Hood, a clan of Kung Fu Bakers. But the other three members of the group are more than ready to take on the evils of this fairy kingdom.
In fact, the three members are closing in on an evil witch. Apparently, this foul being is preparing to roast Hansel & Gretel and I don’t think she is going to just tell off-color jokes at their expense. The group sends in Twitchy to run surveillance. (Think Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible) Granny and Wolf try to stay patient and remain outside. All of the sudden, it looks like Twitchy might be spotted when Granny comes running through the door.
But as soon as that happens, the Witch is getting away with the kids in her helicopter. Granny grabs for the craft and latches on. But the witch is there to handcuff her to the copter and takes off with her. Wolf and Twitchy are in pursuit but alas it is not meant to be. Granny tells Wolf to go find Red and that he can’t do it on his own as the Witch flies off with Hansel & Gretel and Granny too. Devastated, Wolf retires to his double wide trailer to reflect.
Meanwhile, Red is seen on a bridge with a basket full of goodies. She is facing a very big and mean troll who is standing in her way. They fight for a while and Red gains the upper hand, but in the melee the basket of goodies falls over the bridge. We actually find out that the troll is named Moss and he is a trainer at the Sister of the Hood. Unfortunately, Red’s delivery has failed and she is still learning how to become a true sister of the Hood. But before that happens, she has to be able to complete a recipe.
The recipe is for a very special truffle. However, when they go to look for the recipe, they realize it is gone. The group looks to Red when they realize that the recipe is gone. She runs to the agency to help once she finds out that Granny was kidnapped. Nicky realizes that he will have to reunite the team of Wolf and Red together again. Twitchy the squirrel will also be along for the ride. The first task is to find Jimmy 10-Strings who is being held by a giant, they just might know something about the recipe.
I actually have seen the first Hoodwinked, about a half a dozen years ago in a theater. I remember the first one having a lot of laughs, with Twitchy and Wolf being the stars of the show. As I also remember, the first film did not do too well and the film was criticized a lot more than it should have been for its intention. This time around, the sequel did not meet expectations at the box office but again, I am finding myself laughing out loud at the proceedings.
The one thing I remember most about the original is that it did not have enough Twitchy. The sequel gets plenty of Twitchy. Let’s face it, most productions would treat him as a bit character but they really go out of their way to put him in the same regard as Wolf or Red. But as a result, we really get a very straight forward Wolf. Patrick Warburton returns as the voice of Wolf and he does a fantastic job, but alas the jokes and opportunities to really showcase him are simply not there.
However, in the same breath the one giant strength of this film is the incredible voice cast. The even more amazing thing is that it comes from many of the supporting cast members rather than the leads. Voices like Joan Cusack (The Witch), David Alan Grier (Moss the Troll), Bill Hader/Amy Poehler (Hansel & Gretel), and Cheech Marin & Tommy Chong (Two of the Three Little Pigs) are fantastic and bring life to the film.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation at 1080p resolution. The first film was criticized a lot for not quite being up to Pixar standards. The average Pixar film gets 100-150 million in budget, Hoodwinked got 15 million. You do the math. The second film gets double that and does wonders with it. Color is amazing and detail is very precise (look no further than the recipe card). Scenery is lush and even though purists might disagree this is right in line with many Dreamworks and Pixar pictures.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 DTS-HD track for English. Not quite as strong is the audio track. However, the audio track is very good with well defined dialog (Twitchy is even understandable at times) and some great surround use. The best example is when the team is in the city tracking down Jimmy 10 Strings. It isn’t ridiculous loud and full as some might expect but more than adequately does the job. Subtitles are also included for English SDH and Spanish.
- Automatic Trailers: Spy Kids – All the Time in the World and Rio.
- Music Videos 9:49: We have three music videos here by the likes of Hayden Panettiere, Lavay Cole, and CeeJ. Sadly, they are all pretty generic and involve the artist singing while clips of the movie are shown behind them.
- Voices of Hoodwinked Too 19:13: Certainly the best extra with spotlights on Red (Hayden Panettiere), Wolf (Patrick Warburton), Heidi (Heidi Klum), Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), and Jimmy 10 Strings (Wayne Newton). I was most impressed with Heidi Klum who I never would have expected her to have that kinda of voice chops.
- Storyboard Sequences 4:29: Two sequences are included, the Bridge fight with Moss and Red as well as the HEA Invasion. Nice sketch work, cool to see how it got transformed.
- Production Artwork: Lots of pictures to look through of production and various tidbits.
- Hoodwinked Too! Video Game Teasers :41: If your kid has an I-Phone, be sure to check out your bill for the past few months and you might see this one downloaded. Then politely explain to them to not buy crappy movie games. You should be ashamed for even giving them an I-Phone in the first place.
- DVD: A DVD of the film is also included for those who need the capability.
Hoodwinked Too! is a worthy sequel and I think that this film over time will be appreciated by the animation community. It has plenty of laughs for kids and a few good nods for the adults too. Twitchy is amazing again and so is the immense overall talent of the voice cast. One of those movies where I again wish I had chose of a career path of a voice actor. The only minus to the proceedings is somewhat fewer laughs and misuse of the Wolf character voiced by Patrick Warburton.
The disc is also equally excellent with some fantastic video and above average audio. The extras are a bit lacking but be sure to check out the voices featurette. I give this film an easy recommendation. I would suggest watching the first one so that you catch little story nods and become familiar with the major characters. But if one needs a quick fix for their kids this weekend, starting with the sequel won’t be too difficult. Enjoy.