R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Cory Edwards
scr Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards, Tony Leech
voices Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, Jim Belushi, Patrick Warburton, Andy Dick, David Ogden Stiers, Anthony Anderson, Xzibit, Chazz Palminteri, Cory Edwards, Tye Edwards, Benjy Gaither
release US 16.Dec.05,
UK 29.Sep.06
05/US 1h20

The usual suspects: Wolf, Woodsman, Granny and Red

hathaway close belushi

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Hoodwinked This lively and irreverent fairy tale makes up for both its simplistic animation and its similarity to Shrek by cramming the script with riotously funny dialog.

Granny's Cottage is a crime scene, and Detective Flippers (a frog voiced by Stiers) is determined to get to the bottom of things with his sidekick stork and bear (Anderson and Xzibit). Red (Hathaway) appears to have been transporting illicit goodies to her Granny (Close), who was trussed up and replaced by the Wolf (Warburton) in disguise, before they were all attacked by a Woodsman (Belushi). And as each one tells his or her side of the story, it becomes clear that Flippers getting much closer to catching an elusive bandit who's been stealing snack recipes.

While the character design is good, the technical quality of the images isn't terribly interesting (the filmmakers might have been better off rendering more like 2D animation). And the songs are almost pathologically silly, in a kind of deranged and often hilariously annoying sort of way. Otherwise, this is a snappy and wildly entertaining spoof of the mystery/whodunit genre, merrily playing with the storybook characters and drawing spirited, personality-filled performances from the vocal cast (they have far more vocal spark than recent Disney efforts).

The film abounds with those genuinely funny touches that keep adults laughing hysterically while the kids chuckle at the silly physical antics. The best bits are the hyperactive squirrel photographer (voiced by director-cowriter Edwards) and a surreal, nutty sequence involving a singing mountain goat (Gaither) and a runaway mining car. Some of the other gags aren't quite as inspired, and the whole thing does draw heavily on Shrek for its tone and style.

But the filmmakers keep things so lively that you can't help but enjoy yourself as it races through the plot over and over again, from various perspectives, until we have the full story. It's completely predictable, but there are moments of real suspense and excitement along the way. Not to mention a continual stream of subversive humour. And lots of attitude.

cert U some themes 14.May.06

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2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall