Consider this: In 2011, making a straightforward, unwinking animated fairy-tale might be a borderline-radical move. After Shrek, its sequels, and Shrek-inspired movies like Happily N’Ever After and their sequels, ironic takes on the worlds of the Grimms and Mother Goose look like the new normal. Is it possible that a whole generation will know fairy godmothers, big bad wolves, and their ilk only as characters who deliver wisecracks and riff on pop culture?
Hoodwinked Too!: Hood Vs. Evil, a sequel to the 2006 film Hoodwinked, does little to reverse the trend or suggest there’s much life left in it. Stepping into a voice role originated by Anne Hathaway, Hayden Panettiere plays Red Riding Hood, an agent of the Happy Ever After Agency, a Mission: Impossible-like task force charged with assuring that fairy stories end well. Having disappeared to be initiated into the same secret society as her secret-agent grandmother (Glenn Close), Panettiere finds her relationship with her crime-fighting partner—a big bad wolf voiced by Patrick Warburton—has become strained. When the two are charged with rescuing Close, who’s been kidnapped alongside Hansel and Gretel (Bill Hader and Amy Poehler), it becomes tenser still as they attempt a rescue while navigating a sea of faux-epic fight scenes, one-liners, and references to other movies.
Hoodwinked Too! is at its most tolerable when it stops to catch its breath. Running gags like Warburton’s insistence on the power of fake beards to fool bad guys in virtually any situation, or the much-abused, endlessly cheery, banjo-playing goat work a lot better than the endless action sequences, which only highlight the meager resources of Blue Yonder, the animation house behind the Hoodwinked films Happy Ever After Agency. (Especially when rendered in unimpressive 3-D.) It raises the question of who the movie is for in the first place: Kids have seen much better animation in other films, and it’s hard to imagine too many grown-ups ready to smile and nod at yet more smirking takes on famous moments from Scarface and The Silence Of The Lambs. There’s no happy ending to that half-assed combination.