Hoodwinked is CSI meets the Brother Grimm. But as clever as its premise is, the animated feature can't quite maintain its wily sense of humor.
The trend of modernizing classic fairy tales is getting a little stale, but at least Hoodwinked has an original concept. The Little Red Riding Hood redo begins where the fable left off, with the forest cops sent in to investigate the domestic disturbance at Granny's cottage. The cops question each of the "suspects": whip-smart Red (voiced by Anne Hathaway), a goodies deliverer who longs to escape the woods; Granny (Glenn Close), a goody business owner and extreme sports enthusiast; the Big, Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton), a tenacious reporter chasing down a story; and the Woodsman (Jim Belushi), a big, dumb actor who can't chop trees. Each one gives their own version of the day's events, with the whole incident possibly tied to the elusive ''Goody Bandit," who has been stealing recipes from goody shops all over the woods. And that, my friends, is where they lose you.
Hoodwinked has collected another fine ensemble of celebrity voices. Hathaway is deliciously wry as Red. For example, when asked what she's called when she's not wearing the red hood, she replies matter-of-factly, "I usually wear it." Warburton, Close and Belushi also seem to be having a good time, especially Warburton as the Wolf, who isn't all bad, just misunderstood. There are also our furry and feathered woodland authorities, including the short-tempered Chief Grizzly (rapper Xzibit), his sidekick Officer Stork (Anthony Anderson), the Three Little Pigs as goofy beat cops and private detective Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), the frog who cracks the case. Of course it's a frog. Who else could do it?
More and more, it seems the really inventive films being made these days are the CGI-animated ones--and we've got Pixar to thank for that. With their emphasis on story rather than just animation, they have set a certain standard, of which the Shreks and Ice Ages are following. Hoodwinked, from creators Cory and Todd Edwards, is no exception. It starts off oh-so-cleverly, as the classic fable is told Rashomon style. Most of the pop culture references and sly dialogue will go over the kiddies' heads, but it's great for the parents. Unfortunately, though, the filmmakers couldn't just leave it at that. Instead, they tack on a silly plot device about a goody thief and some diabolical plan to level the forest, which Red, Granny, the Wolf and the Woodsman all have to band together to stop. For the kids' benefit, I suppose.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 1/2 stars.