Narratively the original HOODWINKED was a mess, but there were moments of general inspiration within cliché and tired routines. The sequel is just cliché and tired routines. The original was done independently on the cheap and looked it, but this one feels cheaper because it has no purpose other than to cash in on the surprise success of the original.
Unlike the mysterious RASHOMON-like plot of the first film, this picture is pretty straight forward. It’s perfectly structured as a “good” screenplay is supposed to be structured, but leaves no surprises along the way. Red (Hayden Panettiere, TV’s HEROES) is off training with the Sisters of the Hood, while Wolf (Patrick Warburton, TV’s SEINFELD) is manning the spy agency they now work for. After Red’s Granny (Glenn Close, FATAL ATTRACTION) is kidnapped by Verushka the witch (Joan Cusack, WORKING GIRL), Red is called back to investigate.
The plot moves along standard detective movie clichés from asking an informant and a gangster questions at the night club to the tradition of guess who really the bad guys are. Red is given a female empowerment storyline, which is tied into a working together theme involving Wolf. The entire idea of all the characters working for the spy agency waters down them all. The witty puns and riffs on fairy tales are replaced by punchlines that are just “throw out pop culture references” or gags that are so telegraphed that they cease to be funny. The singing goat suffers a great deal not from getting run over, but from really bad timing.
Warburton is still good as Wolf, but he is given far less to work with. Edwards’ Twitchy is more manic than the last film, which makes him far less appealing. Too much of a good thing syndrome. Anne Hathaway voiced Red in the original and Panettiere doesn’t bring the same pluck that the “now too big for cheap animation” Oscar nominee brought to the role. Nice additions are SNL’s Bill Hader and Amy Poehler as Hansel and Gretel. Their over-the-top German accents are funny in and of themselves.
The fact that the film was taken away from its original directors Corey Edwards, Todd Edwards and Tony Leech and handed over to Mike Disa might be part of the problem. Instead of being a passion project it became a work for hire project. And you can’t even blame Disa, because I’m sure he was working under tight constraints. This was a film that The Weinstein Company lost faith in somewhere during production and it shows on the screen. The film has a fitting title.