Hoodwinked, an underfunded and somewhat undeserving sleeper hit in the winter of 2005, earns a sequel that looks, at least, as if the Weinstein Co. threw a little more money at it.
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil has prettier colors and a beefed-up voice cast, and if the plot's no more original than in the first film, at least there are more gags. Sure, it's still bottom-drawer animation of the Igor, Fly Me to the Moon and Alpha and Omega variety. And yeah, your kids can tell. But at least the fairy-tale riffs are closer to a Shrek sequel in frequency and quality.
Hood vs. Evil sees the enchanted forest dwellers of the Happily Ever After Agency muddling along while Red (Hayden Panettiere, taking over for Anne Hathaway) is off learning martial arts with the Sisters of the Hood.
An evil witch (Joan Cusack) has kidnapped Hansel and Gretel. Can the Big-But-Not-Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton) and his squeaky squirrel pal come to the rescue? Will Granny (Glenn Close) save the day?
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The case takes our heroes into The Beanstalk Club, where a mob-connected Giant (Brad Garrett) presides.
The club's star attraction is a singing harp voiced by Wayne Newton. There's a magic cupcake recipe that must be retrieved, Red must finish her training and join the fray. Some villainous swine voiced by Cheech and Chong must be defeated.
"Power to los puercos!" Cheech exults.
"This is just like the '70s, man," Chong replies.
And the yodeling, banjo-picking billy goat (Benjy Gaither) returns, yodeling away between pratfalls.
The script is a mad, muddled blitz of one-liners and movie references. Some of the animation is a hoot, and a few voice actors stand out. Andy Dick does a Hannibal Lecter bit as an evil bunny, and David Alan Grier finds a few laughs as a troll. Casting Bill Hader and Amy Poehler as the Germanic strudel-addicts Hansel and Gretel was inspired.
It's a pity the facial animation is so cut-rate that the normally funny Warburton and David Ogden Stiers (as Nicky Flippers, the frog in charge of Happily Ever After) are given nothing funny to say and that the story is nothing more than a series of martial arts video game "levels" for small children.
Yes, it's in 3-D and no, it's not remotely as good as Rio. And if your kids saw the first one in a theater, they've certainly outgrown the sequel. But for children still of the "We'll watch anything so long as it's animated" age, Hoodwinked Too is at least a passable time-passer.