Yes, I was Hoodwinked Too!

I don’t often write movie reviews here, but then again, I don’t often see the worst movie ever made, and I think the latter may just have happened yesterday.

In my defense, there is one, and only one, reason I went to see Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil yesterday, and that was to allow myself and my family a two-hour reprieve from the oppressive 100-degree heat of Minneapolis in July. It had not occurred to me prior to leaving home that there may be experiences to be had on such a summer day that were far more unpleasant, even if they were air conditioned.

Two minutes into the movie I was already bewildered by the incomprehensible (and unengaging) plot; the uninspired, inappropriate-reference-saturated, rapid-fire, pseudo-witty dialogue; the derivative grab bag of every possible character and trope from popular animated movies, good or bad, of the past decade (including, but not limited to, Shrek, Ice Age, The Incredibles, Monsters vs. Aliens and Kung Fu Panda); and the lazy, stunningly, sub-straight-to-DVD-Barbie-movie bad animation. The only thing this movie had going for it was a fairly decent cast of voice actors, and even then, most of them sounded as if they were recorded at their first table read, half asleep and wholly disinterested.

It got worse from there.

Or maybe it didn’t, as there were at least 2 or 3 moments — brief moments — during the movie where I was mildly entertained, mostly involving Bill Hader and Amy Poehler as Hansel and Gretel. But even they were annoying far more often than not. And they were nowhere near enough to offset the myriad other horrible things wrong with this movie. Perhaps the most disturbing is the movie’s tendency to take every questionable attribute of modern “kids'” movies to its logical extreme, especially the references to films no child should be able to understand. A few throwaway quotes from the likes of Scarface and Terminator (within 10 seconds of each other) is one thing. An entire scene built upon a parody of The Silence of the Lambs, with an Andy Dick-voiced rabbit strapped to a hand truck and locked behind shatterproof glass a la Hannibal Lecter, is inexcusable. And if inappropriate references don’t bother you, don’t worry. There are enough stereotypes here to offend just about anyone.

At this point you may be asking why I chose to see this movie, and why I’d spend money on it. The reason is simple: it was playing at a nearby second-run theater, which only has a single screen. This is what was showing at the time we chose to go, and tickets were only $2 each. That someone might have spent as much as $15 per ticket to see this movie (in 3-D no less, from which we were thankfully spared) sickens and saddens me. I scarcely even knew this movie existed prior to yesterday, and will do what I can to purge it from my memory as soon as this post goes live.

I’m sure far more people read Rotten Tomatoes every day than have visited this blog since its inception, so reiterating its content here is superfluous. Except… I wouldn’t be surprised if more people read this blog than have bothered to check out Hoodwinked Too! on Rotten Tomatoes. And since some of the reviews of this godawful piece of garbage (which, yes, I know, was the result of a lot of hard work… or, at least… work… by a large number of talented people… or, at least… people) provide far more entertainment (in far less time) than the movie itself, I figure they’re worth shining my dim little light upon.

If you’re not familiar with Rotten Tomatoes, it’s essentially a movie review aggregator. It provides each new release with a “Tomatometer” score, representing the percentage of reviewers who’ve given a film a positive rating. Films over 50% get a nice, plump, ripe red tomato. Films under 50% get a nasty green splatter. The site also gives each movie its own page, featuring excerpts from select reviews.

Hoodwinked Too! has one of the lowest Tomatometer scores I’ve ever seen — 12%— which restores just a shred of the respect for humanity I lost at the movie theater yesterday.

Here are some of my favorite comments from the reviewers:

Full of manic momentum and nattering, witless word play, the movie has all the charm of a mudslide.
–Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail

This is precisely what I was thinking, if not so eloquently, during the opening scenes.

Remember the first “Hoodwinked,” five years ago? Remember how it ended with the promise of a sequel? Remember how many times you’ve wondered when-oh-when-will-it-finally-come? Me neither.
–Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

I honestly don’t remember ever seeing any promotion whatsoever for either of these movies, and could have gone on happily ever after (to carry over the fairy tale theme) believing they didn’t exist.

Parents should take their children to “Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil,” if only because kids are never too young to learn the important and liberating skill of walking out of a movie and demanding a refund.
–Kyle Smith, New York Post

Why didn’t I think of that?

Somewhere during the first 30 minutes I actually felt my soul shrivel up and die. Trust me, you’ve had more entertaining colonoscopies.
–Jeff Meyers, Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

No comment.

Clone Wars: It’s all about expectations

I saw Star Wars: The Clone Wars today. Not because I’m such a huge Star Wars fan because… I’m not. Sure I’ve enjoyed getting swept up in the (largely unfulfilled) hype of the release of the prequels, but to be honest, I just wasn’t into it that much as a kid. I was too young when A New Hope Star Wars came out. I did see The Empire Strikes Back on the big screen and while my memories of life at 6 are fuzzy, I do remember enjoying it, even if I didn’t really get it, much less get why people were totally obsessed with it. And of course I saw Return of the Jedi too, by then, at age 9, old enough to get swept up in my friends’ excitement. But let’s face it, Jedi kind of sucked, and it was more a foretaste of what was to come than a grand last hurrah for the old series.

Although initially excited by the first previews I saw in theaters several months ago, by now I had grown deeply wary of this new installment. Reviews ranged from scathing to… well, even more scathing. But I have a 5 1/2-year-old son, and he’s loved Star Wars since almost before he could talk, so I had to take him to see it. Three things struck me most about the film, two as I watched it and one only just now as I’m writing this:

  1. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be. Which is not to say it was great, but I managed to avoid falling asleep, and not just because it was so loud.
  2. Rather than sticking out as a pathetic piece of garbage in contrast with the glory of the six live-action films, it revealed how truly ordinary and not spectacular the live-action films are. The first may have been revolutionary in 1977, and Empire may have been the real masterpiece of the series in 1980, but honestly, this franchise was great for four years and has now sucked ass for a quarter of a century.
  3. My son is now about the same age as I was when I first saw Empire in the theater. Empire was my cinematic introduction to the Star Wars universe, and his was… this. At least neither of us had to suffer Jar Jar Binks. Or Ewoks.

I’m a little surprised at just how negative the reviews are, honestly. This is no great cinematic work, but it’s not complete garbage. It’s not the worst film of the year. From what I’ve heard it’s not even the worst space-themed animated feature film of the year, but then again I don’t know anyone who’s actually seen Space Chimps, so who knows?

Apparently it’s all just a set-up for the animated series coming to Cartoon Network this fall, and that makes sense. I was somewhat surprised by the relatively low quality of both the animation and the off-brand voice acting, but if this is really designed to pump kids up — and establish their expectations — for something they’ll be seeing every week on TV, it’s good to have a little truth in advertising. Funny though that Sam Jackson and Christopher Lee voiced their own characters. I can see Mace Windu having little to no role in the series, but Dooku’s pretty central to the story. We’ll have to see what happens in the fall.

The most jarring thing for me was the music. Much of it was recycled from the films, but there was also a lot of worldbeat electronica and occasional rock themes (granted, it was Moody Blues-esque rock-with-orchestra, but there was still a driving rock beat). I know Lucas carefully chose to go with 100% orchestral “classical” style music for the films to give them a timeless quality, but it does seem that this new animated direction is… well, just that, a new direction.

Recommended for die hard (and I mean really die hard) Star Wars fans and… um… their parents.