Warning, this is a spoiler based review
I was really disappointed that despite checking quite often, I'd totally missed the movie and felt worse when I discovered it poorly both at the box office and critically. So will the sequel be bad? I hope not. The first movie was brilliantly funny and had some moments I had to watch over and over because they were so good. If you haven't seen Hoodwinked, then I recommend you get yourself a copy and watch it before reading this review as no doubt it will contain spoilers for the first film (which is also a mystery.)
The cast credits play out over a plain black screen and it looks like most of the cast have returned (except for Anne Hathaway, but seriously, who cares about her?). The title comes up and then it superimposes over a leather bound story book, which opens and we hear the voice of Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers) giving a recap on the characters and events of the first movie.
We see the gingerbread house and the silhouette of the supposed witch in the window laughing, this turns into a heat signature and we are inside a HEA (Nicky's secret organisation) van and they are ready to move in on the house. A number of HEA members (all forest animals) jump around, hiding behind trees and we see Granny, (Glenn Close) calling in as Alpha leader.
|The not-so Big Bad Wolf|
Granny uses some special binoculars to see inside the house and sees the witch sprinkling salt on the two children sat in a pie dish. Wolf says that now Red has gone he has to step up, and has brought out the big guns, one of the agents inside the HEA van hears this and then panics as he sees something climbing up the side of the house. Granny uses her binoculars and sees that it's Twitchy the squirrel.
|You have no idea how much I had to slow the movie down by to get a shot of Twitchy not moving|
Twitchy's translator says he's about to go in, Nicky warns him not to proceed, but Twitchy doesn't listen. Twitchy drops down the chimney, hearing the two children say that they didn't mean to trespass and they were only looking for goodies. Twitchy knocks off a small piece of stone and the witch hears this and goes to investigate, reaching into the fireplace, she almost touches Twitchy, but the doorbell rings and she goes to answer it.
Wolf shouts from behind the door that he's a building inspector, here to see a list of ingredients and permits, which allows Twitchy to drop down from the fireplace. Twitchy runs over to the two children, who introduce themselves as Hansel and Gretal and they say he must hurry as the witch will eat them all.
|She's behind you!|
They close in on the witch and a helicopter joins them. realising that the witch is gaining height, Granny asks Wolf if he can handle a bike, the short answer is yes, I won't repeat every line of dialogue, but it's pretty hilarious. Granny jumps onto the back of the broom and grabs into the cage in which Hansel is being kept, then the witch slaps a pair of handcuffs onto Granny's wrist and laughs manically as she tells Granny she's got her.
The bike crashes to the ground and Wolf tells Twitchy their ok as it rides through the trees and the helicopter pursues the witch.
Wolf however is not far behind the witch, unfortunately he passes them and then tells Twitchy to handle the bike, Twitchy protests as he cannot reach the peddles, but Wolf launches himself out and crashes into a windmill. Twitchy crashes the bike into a bail of hay, the witch passes the windmill Wolf is on and he jumps and grabs Granny, despite her warnings that it's a trap. Granny tells Wolf to get Red and Wolf loses his grip on Granny and drops onto a hay bail.
Wolf looks sadly into the sky as the witch flies off and remarks that it's all his fault and it wouldn't have happened if Red were there. He looks into the sky and the camera travels through the clouds, leading us to Red on a wooden bridge. She is carrying a basket filled with goodies and hears loud footsteps in front of her and an ogre comes into view.
|He's somewhat tall|
A woman comes out of a building on the other side of the bridge and says that the test is over and the delivery is incomplete. We see inside the secret temple of the sisters of the hood and we see many women, all wearing hoods in a variety of colours, training in various forms of fighting techniques. Red's teacher tells her that she came with much to prove, but her task was to deliver the basket and she shouldn't have got into a fight needlessly after the end was so near, she says that a sister of the hood finds her own path and her desire to please her Granny shouldn't rule her. Also they are running out of fighting instructors.
Red gets a phone call from Nicky who tells her about Granny being kidnapped. Her instructor tells Red that when a sister graduates, their last test is the trial of the truffle and very few sisters ever successfully create the recipe and Granny was one of them.
The sisters panic and realise that whoever took the recipe must be trying to complete the truffle and must be seeking the secret ingredient. A HEA helicopter arrives at the temple, Red asks what the secret ingredient is, they tell her that it is never written down or spoken of, but a true sister of the hood just knows. I'm gonna guess right now that it's either love or nutmeg.
Red boards the helicopter to mount a rescue for Granny, the other sisters comment that she's still finding her true path and isn't ready for such a challenge yet on her own. Granny meanwhile has been tied to a chair at the witches castle.
|I'm calling it now, the witch is either a costumed rival or a robot for either the bunny or Hansel and Gretal|
|Here's a screencap should you wish to reproduce it for yourself.|
Back at HEA headquarters, Little Bo Peep and her sheep are working the computers, Wolf gets slapped by Bo after saying that her sheep are delicious and Red enters the room. Red blames Wolf for getting Granny kidnapped and Wolf blames Red for not being around and being on her secret training, Twitchy stays out of the argument as Nicky Flippers enters the room and tells Red that there's been a rash of robberies for the ingredients to make the truffle cake.
Red says they need to hit the streets and find out who's hiring the muscle, Nicky says their intel indicates that it leads back to a guy who is called The Giant, who is a smuggler and also blogs about animated films. Wolf says that he needs to get a life. Hey! I'm on your side, movie!
As they walk through the streets, Red and Wolf get into another argument as Wolf wants to get some sight seeing done while they are there, but Red just wants to do things by the book, like Granny would. Twitchy finds a poster of Kirk the woodcutter who has hit the big time as a singer, he shows Red and Wolf, Wolf wants to catch the show, Red doesn't want.
Red is sent upstairs on an escalator to see The Giant (Brad Garrett), Red asks The Giant about the witch, the giant feigns ignorance and tosses one of the rhino bouncers across the room with a sweep of his hand, causing the crowd to gasp. Red explains that she's a sister with a badge and threatens The Giant, who doesn't take kindly to that, luckily, Wolf comes in in one of his disguises and distracts The Giant.
The Giant laughs as Wolf amuses him and he invites Wolf and Red to join him for some dinner, which allows Twitchy to go talk to Jimmy, whilst Red and Wolf distract The Giant. Twitchy steals the harp and Red and Wolf make their excuses to leave, The Giant notices and sends his rhino bouncers after them, but he throws his table at them, knocking his bouncers out of the window instead of Red and Wolf.
Red uses her hood to catch the wind, floating herself, Wolf and Twitchy to safety. We then get a shot of London Bridge Asylum, the camera travels through the corridors and we see Boingo The Bunny inside a cell, yes it's a Silence of the Lambs reference, a cleaners passes behind them and it's obviously the witch.
Wolf decides to leave as his screw ups keep causing things to go wrong and he says that Red would be better working on her own, so he leaves with Twitchy. Red picks up the cloth and sees that is a tunic with the initials, D.C.T printed on the front.
We see Granny is hard at work, but her wooden spoon snaps and she complains to the witch that she can't possible make the truffle cake with broken spoons and cracked measuring jugs. Granny also says that the witch hasn't brought her the right amount of cocoa sticks, so the witch grumbles and leaves and Granny uses one of the sticks to pick the lock on her ankle cuff and grabs a spatula and a handful of flour.
She opens it and Hansel and Gretal are sat on a settee eating pies and cupcakes and watching the telly, Gretal tells Granny the exit is straight ahead, but traps Granny in a cage. The witch comes in and asks what Granny is doing in there and Hansel and Gretal start questioning the witch on how Granny escaped. (Totally saw it coming.)
Granny realises that Hansel Gretal are the masterminds behind the kidnapping and truffle plan because they are the children of a poor woodcutter and they never had any sweets and that's why they want the truffle. Granny says she'll never finish the truffle cake for them now, but Hansel and Gretal say they have ways of making her talk.
The last straw was at the final test, Verushka was unable to make the truffle and has spent the last sixty years trying to discover the secret ingredient, until she teamed up with Hansel and Gretal and they devised their plan.
Red meanwhile only has to figure out what DCT could stand for, but she's having some trouble as it turns out there's quite a few places with those initials.
At Wolf's place, we see that he has a bunch of photos of him and Red attached to the fridge and Wolf is sat watching television, but everything reminds him of Red so he turns it off. He goes to the trailer next door to talk to Twitchy, Twitchy gives Wolf a drink and tells him that the HEA and Red need him, even if Red won't admit it.
The three little pigs arrive outside and blow up Wolf's trailer, Wolf comes out, revealing they didn't kill him, then the pigs start pursuing Wolf and Twitchy as they roll away in Twitchy's trailer, but as the trailer rolls off a cliff, the pigs blow it up and it explodes everywhere.
|We totally blew up that handsome wolf!|
Hansel gets a phone call telling him Red and the Wolf have escaped, the witch is still trying to persuade Granny to make the truffle, but Granny refuses still. Gretal comes up with a plan involving Red arrivng. Red and Wolf decide they need muscle to get into the towers and go to see Kirk the woodsman.
Red tells Kirk they need muscle, Kirk tells them they need his yodelling team, who before they became yodellers were a crack team. They take the yodellers and break inside the towers, using various methods to take out the pig guards in the lobby. Wolf, Red and Twitchy head up in the lift, leaving Kirk and the yodellers to take care of the remaining pigs. Red and Wolf find Hansel and Gretal bound up in a cupboard and they tell Red that Granny is in the room at the end of the hall. Red tells Wolf to get the kids out while she gets Granny, but as they get into the lift, Red sees Gretal smiling suspiciously.
Hansel and Gretal complete the truffle, Red apologises to Granny because everything is her fault and if she hadn't tried to do everything alone, it wouldn't have happened. Granny tells Red a person can never truly fail unless they give up.
Wolf and Twitchy are tied up in the lift, but they stir and manage to press the buttons to activate the lift. Hansel and Gretal reveal that their plan is to sell the truffles to villains all over the world and because the effects of the truffle are only temporary, the villains will want more and they will become filthy rich. Hansel and Gretal each eat a truffle, despite Granny trying to stop them and they become giants.
Granny tells Verushka that she was never number 2 to her, they look out over the city and Red feels like it's all her fault, but Granny says she doesn't have anything to prove and has all the power she already needs to save the city. Red jumps out of the hole in the wall, using her hood to catch the air as she jumps over buildings.
Granny tells Verushka that once you're a sister, your always a sister and she can always come back, Wolf and Twitchy arrive finally in the lift and Granny sets off with them on the rocket broom. Verushka is left alone, looking at her number 2 ribbon as the spider returns.
In the city, Hansel and Gretal start breaking buildings and throwing them into the street. Red arrives and knocks Gretal off a building, then she pulls Hansel off, but on the ground, they are all fine. Hansel and Gretal start throwing cars at Red, just as they are about to squish her, Wolf and Granny arrive and save Red, pulling her onto the Rocket broom, which Granny flies into a monorail car.
Wolf tells Red that he's sorry and he should have listened to her more, Red says she likes his way and his disguises are fun and useful sometimes.
Hansel and Gretal walk into a police blocked, with Nicky Flippers and the police and remaining HEA agents. Hansel and Gretal laugh, then Red comes behind them and tells them to surrender the truffles, backed by Granny, Wolf, Twitchy, Verushka and the spider. When Hansel and Gretal refuse they attack and Wolf gives Twitchy some coffee, allowing him to steal the truffles and throw them to Red.
Red runs away, but they taunt her about running away and Red gets tossed into a building and Hansel and Gretal pick up the box of truffles, they eat more of them. Nicky comes over and tells them that Hansel and Gretal will be unstoppable now, but everyone assures Nicky that it was all part of the plan.
After the main bit of the credits play, the rest run with some truly gorgeous concept art and story boards and it's well worth watching.
This is a good movie and it's very sad that it didn't perform well, I blame poor promotion, I was actively looking for this movie coming out and I managed to miss it's release. You could watch it happily if you haven't seen the first one, there's one or two minor references you may not quite get, but honestly the first one is excellent so you really should check it out if you haven't seen it.
It was missing the musical elements of the first film and the mystery was pretty obvious, however, I don't think the movie looses much on that. It's very funny and the relationship between Wolf and Red is played out nicely, however there are some very dated references in it that I think they should have left out.
The animated is excellent, despite what I've read some of the critics were saying, especially when you consider this is a low-budget film of $30 million and it's not been made by a big animation studio.
This is a movie which can be enjoyed by both children and adults, I like the fact that Hoodwinked uses strong female characters who don't have to be rescued by a guy every five minutes and are concerned by things like empowerment, team work and finding yourself. It's rare animated example passing the Bechdel test.
8 out of 10