A few years into the latest 3D phase (and, make no mistake, it is only a phase), I still grate my teeth at the disproportionate number of children’s movies offered at such a premium price. It doesn’t make me any happier when the 3D effects in question are added in the post-production phase as is the case with Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, which wouldn’t even be worth the price of a 2D matinee or a Redbox rental. Any children’s movie that unironically overdoes the postmodern allusions to such a degree that, within the space of one breath, “Say hello to my lil’ friend” is instantaneously followed-up with “Hasta la vista, baby” should not only be avoided in the the theater but also in the DVD market. Quite simply, there is no excuse for any movie that believes the money should just roll in as a result of the kind of laziness that inspires screenwriters to forego an actual story in favor of repeating the same old tired references (to Silence of the Lambs, Mission: Impossible, Die Hard, Ghostbusters, and Star Wars) that have long ceased to cause any audience response other than sheer disgust.
Now that I’ve gotten that little declaration out of the way (and probably only confirmed what you already knew), let’s commence discussion of this needless sequel that’s been six years in the making. Here, the story still revolves around the Happy Endings Agency (hereinafter known as “H.E.A.”), which has somehow inserted its most important members into Kill Bill: The Whole Shitty Children’s Affair. Red Riding Hood (Hayden Panettiere, picking up after Anne Hathaway ran like hell) has been biding her time with some intense martial-arts training at an establishment (called “Sisters of the Hood”) that’s not unlike Pai Mei’s temple; Granny (Glenn Close) actually wears The Bride’s yellow jumpsuit; and The Big (Not-So-)Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton) now lives like a castaway in a Bud-like trailer home. Also, the Wolf takes it in the nuts innumerable times, but I must be missing the significance of that repeated ritual because there’s no way that the (four) screenwriters could have intentionally and persistently employed the same joke merely because they thought it was funny. Right?
As a matter of course, the H.E.A. calls Red out of her training camp when Granny is kidnapped by Verushka the Witch (Joan Cusack, who needs some career counseling after this and Mars Needs Moms). It turns out that Verushka’s after Granny’s super-secret, all-powerful truffle recipe, and the Witch has also taken additional hostages in the form of two little brats named Hansel (Bill Hader) and Gretel (Amy Poehler). So it’s up to Red to save the day with the help of the nut-ravaged Wolf; along the way, various other characters — Kirk the Woodman (Martin Short);
Shrek The Giant (Brad Garrett); Jimmy 10-Strings (Wayne Newton) — appear for no discernible reason other than to fill the time and cause the adults to wonder why these actors were so hard up for work. In addition, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong make brief appearances as two of the Three Little Pigs.
In a movie with such little visual or storytelling appeal as Hood vs. Evil, it matters very little whether the voice work succeeds or not. However, since the name recognition factor is the only potential appeal (and there is very little else to say) about a movie like this, I will concede that Poehler, Warburton, and Newton made the experience slightly less insufferable, but even the tiniest pleasures are overcome by the cheap visuals and pointlessness of the story. Naturally, a few obstacles must be overcome for Red to succeed in discovering the Sister Hood power within herself, but it’s impossible to root for such a blatantly unlikeable heroine. It’s not really Red’s fault though, for she’s very poorly drawn as a character, and the fact that the filmmakers care so little about her will likely duplicate itself in kind in terms of audience appeal. As such, the sleeper appeal of the first movie shall not repeat itself with this sequel.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.