Hoodwinked!, an underfunded and somewhat undeserving sleeper hit in the winter of 2005, earns a sequel that looks as if the Weinstein Co. at least 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 & Omega variety. But at least the fairy-tale riffs are closer to a Shreksequel in frequency and quality.
Hood vs. Evil sees the enchanted forest dwellers of the Happily Ever After Agency muddling along while Red (Hayden Panettiere, who takes over for Anne Hathaway) is off learning martial arts with the Sisters of the Hood.
An evil witch (voiced by 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 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; David Alan Grier finds a few laughs as a troll. And casting Bill Hader and Amy Poehler as the Germanic strudel-addicts Hansel & Gretel was inspired.
It's a pity that 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 Hoodwinked! 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.
PG (mild rude humor, mild language, action); 85 min