A new take on an old story, 'Hoodwinked' is an animated 'Little Red Riding Hood' for the 21st Century, complete with a pro-active central character called Red, an extreme sports champion Granny, a smart-ass wolf and yodelling Woodsman looking for his big showbiz break. With a relatively small budget, it may not be as slick-looking as recent animated films from Pixar and DreamWorks but its alternative method of storytelling makes this stand out from the pack.
Starting in the middle of the narrative, with the confrontation between Red (voiced by Hathaway), the Wolf (Warburton), Granny (Close), and the Woodsman (Belushi) at Granny's cottage, the police quickly arrive on the scene. The story unfolds in flashback, 'Rashomon'-style, as amphibious investigator, Nicky Flippers (Stiers) interrogates each of the four in turn to find nothing - and no one - is as it first seems. Matters are further complicated by the mysterious Goody Bandit who is creating havoc throughout the forest by stealing recipes from all the goodie-makers.
With nods to a variety of films and genres ranging through 'Spiderman' and 'Lassie' to 'Star Wars' and even the James Bond series, cinema-literate adults will enjoy identifying the references, even if the story does start to drag after a few tellings. Writers and co-directors Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards and Tony Leech have woven enough quirks, one-liners and snappy comebacks to keep an older audience happy while kids get plenty of fast pacing and cute, brightly developed characters.
Never mind the budget, in 'Hoodwinked' the story is the thing. Just goes to prove that looks aren't everything.