Hoodwinked! (2005)

(On DVD, July 2006) The biggest problem with Hoodwinked! is obvious from the trailer: This is a low-budget CGI-animated film, with the lack of sophisticated animation this implies. While this may be off-putting after being used to the superlative work of Pixar and PDI/Dreamworks, it shouldn’t become an obstacle in order to enjoy this earned and light-hearted comedy. Yes, it’s made of kids (which only becomes intrusive when the songs run on for too long, or when some points are made too obviously), but it’s a lot of fun for adults too. Characters that should work eventually do (including the film’s single best character, a singing goat with interchangeable horns) and the initial lack of fluidity to the animation becomes charming in time. There are enough chuckles to keep anyone interested, and some of the film’s best moments pay off handsomely. It’s not completely original (the riffs off fairy tales will remind a few viewers of Shrek, while the hyperactive squirrel is immediately reminiscent of Over The Hedge‘s Hammy), but given the film’s long gestation period, it’s more a case of parallel development than anything else. Seen from a slightly wider perspective, Hoodwinked! may end up being the first of a new category of animated films made possible by the increased capacities of personal computers: Earnest, highly personal B-movies made as much to scratch a creative impulse than to produce corporate profits. Frankly, I’ll take ten Hoodwinked! over one cynical and overproduced The Polar Express.

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