Friday, May 05, 2006


Hoodwinked Again

Confession time. There's only one reason that I allowed myself some wiggle room to talk about things besides video games on this blog. I knew that the Hoodwinked DVD was going to be coming out this month, and I knew that, being the only person in the world with a crush on this movie, I would need to hide away my feelings for it lest I annoy and confuse friends and family members with my ramblings.

I saw the movie four times in theaters. Once for my younger sister, who was keen on seeing it, and three times for myself because I just couldn't get enough of it. It's really a collection of five movies that are linked together by a single storyline. The first time you watch it, every revelation is a giggle as events loop back on themselves and things that seemed peculiar the first time you saw them start to make sense. The second time, you look at everything a little differently and sure enough, everything that happens later is foreshadowed, sometimes very subtly.

The soundtrack is completely worth getting. Not only is there an extended version to just about every song in the film, but they're excellently composed and work independantly of the film. Whereas most animated films will go with incredibly plot-specific original songs or try to incorporate pop songs that weren't written for the film, the Edwards brothers wrangled in an impressive number of really cool songs that have nothing to do with the events of the movie. "Great Big World", "Critters Have Feelings", "Little Boat", "Runaway", "Tree Critter", "Eva Deanna", "Glow"... So many catchy songs. Once in a while the lyrics will betray them as being written for kids, but there's nothing on here that I'd be surprised to hear on the radio. And even if they're better when you see them in the film, "Be Prepared", "The Schnitzel Song", and "Top of the Woods" are positively infectious. The liner notes include all of the lyrics and even some production notes. Very classy.

My favorite revelation -- the punk rock song that plays during an avalanche scene is about the songwriter's toddler niece and a trip to the zoo.

The DVD is great. There's a music video for "Critters Have Feelings" that uses characters from the movie and original animation, which is probably the biggest treat for fans of the film. There's a short bit about how a pair of independant filmmakers set about making an animated movie. I was a bit dismayed to see how many good bits had been cut from the final movie. I can understand lacking the budget to finish the scene with the cave bats, but we really could have done with the extra verses for "Great Big World" and "The Schnitzel Song".

The biggest revelation is that the commentary track alludes to work on a sequel. Of course, that's got me worried. I loved the hell out of the movie, of course, but sequels are always a hit or miss proposition, doubly so with animated movies. Sure, I love how Hoodwinked suggests that there will be further adventures for Red Riding Hood, but I'm not sure that story needs to be told.

Hoodwinked worked on its premise and its storytelling techniques, and I really don't think that's something they'll be able to do twice. The fun was finding out who the characters really were as we saw them from multiple points of view and fitting together the events of the day. It can't just be "Hoodwinked 2". The title tells a story -- everyone's been "Hoodwinked!" Unless they put an original title on it, they're going to have to figure out a way to "hoodwink" everyone again.

It'll be a real trick to make a satisfying story while walking that narrow line between rehashing themselves and losing what made the first movie magical, but maybe I should have more faith in the creators to do it. After all, it was a real trick to make Hoodwinked work to begin with.
There have been animated sequels that surpass the originals -- Shrek 2 and Toy Story 2 leap to mind. Guess we'll have to wait and see.


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