Since the smash hit Toy Story was released way back in 1995–over twenty years ago, can you believe it?–computer animated films have become a mainstream phenomenon with the animation titans such as Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios and Dreamworks releasing groundbreaking titles such as Shrek, Monsters Inc., Wall-E, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, and Finding Nemo . Other animation studios have also stepped up to the plate to deliver fantastic films such as Aardman’s Chicken Run, Sony Pictures’ Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and Walt Disney Animation Studios with every parent’s nightmare–Frozen. It’s the undeniable truth that these studios serve as the benchmark for animation standards with unique and touching storylines chock full of originality and humor; endearing characters; and stunning animation. Occasionally though, an unassuming film is released that tends to become overshadowed by the top studios with their reputation and thus is not met with much success. Despite this, these underrated films knock it out of the park in several areas. The sad truth is that these movies pass into history largely unnoticed. Hoodwinked is one of those films, and could easily be considered one of the most underrated computer animated films of all time.
Hoodwinked is a fractured fairy tale created by Blue Yonder Films and Kanbar Entertainment–household names, right? A fractured fairy tale is a fairy or other folk tale that has been modified in such a way as to make us laugh at an unexpected characterization, plot development or contrary point of view. Based off of the classic children’s story Little Red Riding Hood by the Brothers Grimm, Hoodwinked presents the story that we all know well in a whole new light, presenting it in a “whodunit” romp that is just as delightful as it is intriguing. The film boasts a reinvention of the characters we know such as Red, Granny, The Wolf, and the Huntsman as well as some new characters such as Jethro the hilarious singing goat, Twitchy the fast talking squirrel, and Boingo the wisecracking bunny. With hilarious backstories behind each character coupled with a well paced tour of a whimsical fairy tale land all set on the backdrop of a high stakes “crime” thriller, Hoodwinked is a highly creative and amusing adventure. Using a witty blend of slapstick humor and situational irony, Hoodwinked is well written, superbly acted, and never boring. Sporting famous names such as Glenn Close, Anne Hathaway, and Patrick Wartburton Hoodwinked is a delight. I myself just watched it yesterday for kicks and found it just as entertaining as I did when I saw it at age 14 or 15.
So why is it so underrated? Rotten Tomatoes rates it at a 46% with several of the 123 critics that reviewed it making comments about the quality of animation, the clunky humor, and the inability to compete with the likes of Shrek. Admittedly the animation is pretty bad. Some of the less important characters such as the woodpecker and the snowboarding team are characterized in a big way by their dislocated rendering and fuzzy animation. The humor however, while occasionally clunky, mixes just the right blend of slapstick and irony set in a imaginative world that challenges our preconceived notions of our childhood. I also appreciated that it doesn’t rely on crude humor and innuendos to force a laugh out of the viewer. Rather it successfully implements wit and irony (the two highest forms of humor) in its creative exposition–another reason to give it the homage it deserves. It’s also important to know that Shrek was built on the back of a 60 million dollar budget. Hoodwinked shrinks in comparison, operating at just over 15 million. The beauty of this comedy is that it relies on talent, originality, and creative humor to keep audiences just as entertained as these big budget features with huge budgets which makes it a massive success all things considered.
In conclusion, Hoodwinked can be considered one of the most underrated computer animated films of all time. Rich in humor, creativity, and flair, this fractured fairy tale, despite its budget and animation quality, is a magical masterpiece in its own right.