I’ve always been disappointed with the films that are part of The Weinstein Company. However, it’s never because of the lack of quality but because of the way that the studio releases them. I’ve never seen a studio who has such little faith in their films. The marketing campaigns are non existent at best, except when the studio shopped The King’s Speech last year. Maybe it’s the opposite, where they have so much faith in their products that they feel no need to advertise; After all the audiences will go to them, right?
Either way a few years back a little animated film called Hoodwinked! came out in theaters to little applause and little notice. I felt kind of bad for the film, it took a fun Shrek like approach to the tale of little red riding hood and put her right smack down in the middle of a mystery narrative. The film was clever, fun and had a wealth of the fun characters that while seemingly one note brought some good laughs for kids and adults alike. Fast forward a few years and The Weinsteins kick out Hoodwinked Too!: Hood Vs. Evil in another quick, under the radar theatrical release before DVD. I was saddened to find that every ounce of magic that was had in the original seemed to have the life sucked out of it on this sequel.
While the original tried to gravitate around a fresh take on an old tale of Little Red Riding Hood, HoodWinked Too! tried to do a painful adaptation of a Hansel and Gretel tale, only to have it balloon into a ridiculous kidnapping plot gone bad thanks to the teamwork efforts of a “super team” of characters from the original film. Hansel and Gretel were two annoying characters that you cared little for, and the natural enemies of Wolf and Red working together seemed out of place.
Characters that were once so much fun, such as the yodeling goat from the original film are diminished to a one note joke that involves him walking around with a banjo being squashed by falling objects from the sky. The highly caffeinated squirrel is now a bad rip off of Scrat from the Ice Age franchise, and Grandma’s adrenaline junkie persona comes off feeling way to stale. Perhaps it was because the mystery of these characters had already been revealed in the previous film, but the magic was missing in this film. I began to wonder half way through if it was just because all the characters were working together to resolve a horribly crafted plot but I found myself just in the end thinking it was lazy story telling. Character depth was zapped from these characters I had grown to love, and instead was replaced with jokes so bad that it would be hard pressed to keep a pre-school attention.
When it came down to the end, I found a film that had poor story, poor animation, and a misuse of a cast of characters. The reason that some of the original cast didn’t sign back on to the film is very apparent: It shouldn’t have been made. The Weinsteins cranked this sequel out for very little dough and raked in more than enough to be profitable. That means we’ve rewarded the studio for shoddy film making, and shoddy marketing. Hoodwinked Too! reminded me that the painful truth is that studios like Pixar are light years ahead of what most other studios can even dream about when it comes to making animated features. The original Hoodwinked! was essentially a fluke. From the looks of Hoodwinked Too! we stand a better chance of Zimbabwe, Africa developing and launching a successful space initiative in the next decade than seeing The Weinsteins creating and launching a successful animated division.