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The Angry Birds Movie (2016)
The Angry Birds Movie (2016)
2016 | Animation, Family
5
6.3 (7 Ratings)
Movie Rating
The new kids’ movie Angry Birds is a joint venture between Columbia Pictures and Rovio Animation.

I did not hold high hopes for this movie when I went to screen it, and really only went because I knew my 7 year old son would want to see it.

It has a wide range of actors and actresses voicing the characters: Jason Sudeikis as Red, Josh Gad as Chuck, Danny McBride as Bomb, Maya Rudolph as Matilda, Bill Hader as Leonard, Peter Dinklage as Mighty Eagle, Sean Penn as Terence, and Blake Shelton as Earl Pig.

If you have ever played the game by the same name, you will recognize the characters, as well as the soundtrack music.

It was a decent (kids) story, and the movie is certainly colorful and fast paced. In my opinion, the 3-D aspect helped.

We follow the main character, Red, as he tried to fit into a happy, steady society, that frowns upon and even penalizes outburst of bad temper, whether they are warranted or not.

He blows up at a customer, and has to go to court, where he is sentenced to anger management classes. The instructor, Matilda, has a hard time getting through to him and gets frustrated with his inability to control his anger responses.

In the middle of Red’s classes, the Pigs show up, bearing “gifts” and acting as if they are the Birds best friends. Red is suspicious and tries to both investigate to find out more, as well as warn the other birds that the pigs are after more than being “best friends”, but is shut down time after time as his warnings fall on deaf ears.

In the end, Red is right, and must organize a rescue. Ironically, he must encourage the other Birds to harness their anger in order to use it to help rescue their eggs.

I thought the movie was cute, and fun for a family afternoon out. I probably would not take very very young kids to it, more in the age group of 6 or 7 and up, but for my son it was just fine, and it was fun for him because he recognized the characters both from the game as well as the cartoon shorts that are on the internet.

For a family movie, I would give Angry Birds 2.75 out of 5 stars.
  
Inside Out (2015)
Inside Out (2015)
2015 | Animation, Comedy, Drama
Have you ever wondered what goes on inside that noggin of yours when your feeling angry, scared, sad or happy even? The producers and directors of Up and Toy Story have delved inside these emotions with their new film Inside Out. It is the latest and greatest film from Disney’s Pixar to open this summer. The film brought in some of the best comedic actors together and strategically placed them in the mind of an eleven year old girl.

 Riley is an eleven year old girl from Minnesota. Her parents have made the difficult decision to uproot her and move to San Francisco for her fathers new job. Riley’s life is flipped upside down and inside out. She is guided only by her emotions as most of us are. Her thoughts are being manned by a control room of sorts. Joy (Amy Poehler) keeps everything at bay. As it is her soul purpose to keep Riley happy and all the other emotions away from the controls as much as possible. Although other emotions like Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) tend to creep in from time to time.

Her memories are color-coded specific to each emotion. Core memories are glowing. Sadness has become quite enamored with these glowing core memories and can’t help herself from touching the orbs turning all of the happy core memories into sad memories. As her mind short circuits it paves the path for fear, disgust and anger to take over. Joy must stop this from happening and retrieve core memories that are almost lost. Guiding them along the way is Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Riley’s imaginary friend who was thought to be forgotten.

 Inside Out will literally give you a seat on the train of thought and will wind through all the twists and turns of the mind. With such an ambitious idea Pixar has proved once again that they can make a film that can relate to both young and old. It will definitely tug at the heartstrings. It did for me as I was about Riley’s age when I was uprooted to Costa Rica so I hold this film close to my heart. Lots of surprises, laughs and maybe even a few sniffles await you with this film and really shouldn’t be missed. A few hidden surprises also await the true Disney fan. Skip the 3D version not worth the extra couple dollars.
  
Paul (2011)
Paul (2011)
2011 | Comedy, International, Sci-Fi
9
7.7 (18 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Can you think of a better vacation than going to the San Diego Comic-Con, then hopping into an RV with your best friend to travel around America checking out various UFO hot spots? If you answered “Heck No!” then you would get along just fine with Klingon-speaking best friends from the UK, Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Nick Frost).

That’s how the movie Paul begins, at one of the greatest conventions, San Diego Comic Con. Then Graeme and Clive are off on their cross country adventure during which they meet all sorts of interesting people including Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), an alien whose ship crash landed on Earth 60 years ago and, until his recent escape, had been a “guest” at a secret military base. After some fainting, wetting pants and fears about probing have been addressed, Graeme and Clive agree to help Paul get to where he can meet his mothership and go home.

At this point the movie goes from funny to really funny and as the three of them get to know each other better, Graeme and Clive soon realize that Paul is just a everyday guy like them (well except for the whole alien thing). They also meet Bible-thumper Ruth (Kristen Wiig) whom they accidentally kidnap, causing her shotgun-toting father to chase after them. Of course there are government agents also looking for them and the movie even throws in a few high speed chases. To round out the road trip there’s even a fight at a biker bar (Star Wars fans will love the band playing inside). Will they achieve their goal and send Paul home? Will there be probing? Klaatu barada nikto?

The special effects that went into creating Paul and his realistic interactions with the human cast were amazing, however the humorous soul that Seth Rogen breathed into Paul made the character truly out of this world. Not since Mork and Gordon Shumway (ALF) has an alien made me laugh so hard. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were their usual extremely funny dynamic-duo selves. The movie is loaded with well-placed humorous references to sci-fi movies and shows, a well-balanced amount of action and great character interactions with an unbelievable supporting cast that includes Jason Bateman, Jane Lynch and Bill Hader just to name a few. This movie is not only one that I want to see again in the theatre but one that I also want to own.
  
It: Chapter Two (2019)
It: Chapter Two (2019)
2019 | Horror, Thriller
Part of this post is sponsored by 4DX Cinemas. With poignancy and heart on its side, 2017’s IT managed to avoid its occasional flaws to become an unnerving addition to the horror genre. While the film could never be classed as outright terrifying, the character of Pennywise, portrayed exceptionally by Bill Skarsgard, is an unsettling antagonist and one of the best in film.

Two years later, the town of Derry is back on the big screen in Andy Muschietti’s epic conclusion. But at nearly 3 hours long, is IT: Chapter Two just a bloated mess, or does it float to new heights?

Defeated by members of the Losers’ Club, the evil clown Pennywise returns 27 years later to terrorise the town of Derry, Maine, once again. Now adults, the childhood friends have long since gone their separate ways. But when people start disappearing, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calls the others home for one final stand. Damaged by scars from the past, the united Losers must conquer their deepest fears to destroy the shape-shifting Pennywise – who is now more powerful than ever.

The film follows many of the same tropes as its predecessor, with beautiful cinematography and excellent performances masking some shoddy CGI and an over-reliance on jump scares, and while it does lack the simplicity and tightly-wound script of its predecessor, IT: Chapter Two is even more unsettling.

For director Andy Muschietti, it’s clear that the training wheels are off. After being guided through the process by Warner Bros. first time around, the success of IT (it grossed over $700million worldwide) now means he’s been free to splash his creative vision all over the screen – and it shows. A deeply disconcerting opening involving two of Derry’s LGBT community and some town bigots lets the audience know early on that this is going to be even darker and much more graphic than its predecessor.

From a casting point of view, they couldn’t have done better. Each adult version of the Loser’s Club nicely embodies their child counterpart, even if we spend more time with some than others. James McAvoy is as reliable as ever and Jessica Chastain plays Beverly nicely but it’s in Bill Hader and James Ransome that we find the perfect embodiments of their juvenile characters.

Hader and Ransome share the same chemistry that made Eddie and Richie so watchable in the first instalment and there is even some well-judged poignancy to go with their playful teasing. The Chinese restaurant scene, a fan favourite from the book and the TV mini-series, is present and correct and remains a highlight over the course of the running time.

IT: Chapter Two is a confident finale to one of 2017’s best films; filled with exceptional performances

Praise must be given to the scriptwriters here as ensembles of this size can all too often get lost with little character development. Thankfully, each cast member feels fully fleshed out, meaning we care for them a lot more than your typical horror-movie character.

However, this is Bill Skarsgard’s film and Pennywise is as menacing as ever. Skarsgard turns up the ante here with his physical performance being absolutely incredible. This portrayal is Heath Ledger Joker levels of good. It would be a shame if he wasn’t recognised officially for the exceptional work he has done to bring this wretched character to life.

While much of the film sees the Loser’s Club separate from each other as they try to locate tokens from their pasts, this allows the production team to create some truly staggering set pieces – although it’s unfortunate that many of them have been spoilt in the trailers. The much-marketed house of mirrors scene is brief but leaves a lasting impression and there’s a sequence early on involving a small girl that was really troubling.

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. While the pacing for such a long film is spot on, the appearances of our titular character are not. Despite being billed as appearing more often, the movie’s gargantuan length means that Pennywise doesn’t feel like he’s on screen for any longer than in the first instalment. With such a great character and performance, it would have been nice to see him a little more.

And while you’ll have noticed me using adjectives like ‘unsettling’ and ‘unnerving’, the film isn’t truly scary unless Pennywise in clown form is on the screen. That’s mainly down to some of the CGI used to create the monsters. As in its predecessor, IT: Chapter Two’s monsters feel too glossy, lacking in any true sense of realism.

Nevertheless, IT: Chapter Two is a confident finale to one of 2017’s best films; filled with exceptional performances and the wit and humour that made its predecessor such a hit. While not reaching quite the same dizzy heights as that film and relying even more on jump scares, as a pair, it’s hard to think of a horror series that has made its mark in the last decade quite as much as IT.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ IT: Chapter Two in 4DX
I was unsure how a horror film would translate to 4DX but the good news is that the experience became even more immersive, with sight, smell and feel all being utilised to great effect.

Soaring over Derry, the advanced seating that 4DX provides means that you feel like you’re flying over the town too. Of course, while this is a pleasant experience when the film is playing nicely, as soon as the horror hits, 4DX jolts you back to reality with some well-timed movement, strobe lighting and weather effects.

A nice touch in this film was the use of smell, something not utilised in Hobbs & Shaw. Every time Pennywise was about to appear on screen, a sweet aroma would fill the cinema, lulling you into a false sense of security. It was a nice effect that added to the drama of the film beautifully.

Naturally, being a horror film, rain was utilised a lot and having the spray nozzle behind your seat was great. Although you are able to turn it off if you so wish, having the weather effects left on meant that you became immersed in what was happening on screen.

This was my first experience of 4D cinema utilised in a horror film and the overall impact was one that added to the terror rather than detracted from it. I would highly recommend viewing IT: Chapter Two in 4DX, and you can book tickets at 19 Cineworld locations across the UK.
  
It: Chapter Two (2019)
It: Chapter Two (2019)
2019 | Horror, Thriller
Characters – Bill was always considered the leader of the gang, he went onto write books and coming back he must face the fear about his brother’s death. Beverly has married an abusive rich man that she wants to escape from, which sees her return to Derry, where she could recapture her own love interest from childhood. Richie is a stand up comedian that is just how you would imagine him to grow up to be like, he gets plenty of laughs through the film. Mike never left Derry, he has been studying how to defeat Pennywise once and for all, he calls everybody back to the town. Ben was the fat kid, he transformed himself and became an architect with great success, he will see this return as a chance to tell Beverly how he feels. Eddie is reluctant to return though it does get him away from his wife, that is just like his mother, he will need to overcome the fears which have held him back before. Stanley is one of the group that doesn’t return, he has his reasons and it poses the reality of what will come with returning. Pennywise is the evil figure, who mostly looks like a clown, though he can become anything he wants to play into the fears. It is strange that we just don’t get that invested in the adult versions of the characters.

Performances – Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy are the two biggest names in the film, they are both fine, because nobody is a true main character, the two could do more and McAvoy is difficult to watch because his choice of accent reminds me about the 10-year-old he plays in Split. Bill Hader and James Ransone are the stars of the returning characters, they still have great chemistry. Isaiah Mustafa and Jay Ryan are both solid enough, though the characters seem to have swapped around.

Story – The story is the second part of the massive book, it follows the adult versions of the losers club that must return to fight Pennywise once again. This is a very long story, it is just under 3 hours long, which does feel like it drags along at times, once problem comes with more flashbacks with hauntings, there is no peril here, because we know the adult versions live. One of the strengths in the film is the idea of being reunited after years away with friends, it does feel natural and just how you would imagine it being. One of the issues I found in the first film was that Ben was the one that spent time learning the history of the town, while Mike did barely anything, it confused me because I always remembered it being Mike that understood the history, here it is Mike and Ben doesn’t seem to care anymore, add in the weird love triangle and you will feel like we have more that didn’t need to be here too.

Horror – The horror side of the film follows the hauntings that both the kids and adults go through, it is more just separate characters getting haunting throughout. Nothing feels as scarier as the first one was.

Settings – The film takes us back to Derry, we do get flashbacks with other moments that make sense and return to the old places where the scares happen.

Special Effects – The effects are brilliant in places, though it does feel certain CGI moments just don’t work.


Scene of the Movie – Richie’s memory.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – James McAvoy’s accent.

Final Thoughts – This is a bogged down horror that just is way too long to get the best out of the scares, just like the mini series, it fizzles out.

Overall: Disappointing sequel.
  
Inside Out (2015)
Inside Out (2015)
2015 | Animation, Comedy, Drama
A delightful treat
If there’s one thing Pixar knows how to do, it’s create memorable films. Long after you’ve walked out the cinema, the likes of Wall.E and Finding Nemo stay with you.

2015 marks the first time the studio will release two films in the same year, with The Good Dinosaur coming to cinemas in December and the subject of this review, Inside Out, in this year’s busy summer season.

But has this increased workload for Pixar’s animators resulted in a poorer quality movie?

Inside Out follows the story of young Riley, an eleven-year-old girl coming to terms with growing up in a new home away from her friends and the neighbourhood she knows and loves.

Deep inside her head, however, we find a whole host of colourful characters controlling Riley’s emotions. Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust all play a part in keeping her level-headed. Unfortunately, after a near disaster it falls on upbeat Joy and ever-blue Sadness to bring Riley back to who she once was.

Inside Out continues Pixar’s trend of creating beautifully animated films that really strike a chord with audiences. The sheer amount of colour is absolutely breath-taking and children will find much to enjoy in both the central characters and the numerous environments inside Riley’s head, while adults will love the stunning recreation of San Francisco in all its bustling glory.

The cast, which includes voice work by Bill Hader (Monsters University), Kyle MacLachlan (Desperate Housewives) and Diane Lane (Man of Steel) all do sterling jobs in bringing their characters to life but it is in Phyllis Smith, who plays Sadness, that we find the best portrayal.

A relatively unknown actress with few film credits to her name, Smith is truly wonderful as the little blue lady who keeps a check on the more upsetting moments in Riley’s life.

Elsewhere, Pixar has once again created a story that really focuses on the themes of growth, family bonding and what it means to grow up in today’s society with numerous cultural references that children and adults alike will enjoy.

However, it’s important to note that Inside Out is one of the more emotional films Pixar has created. At numerous points throughout the movie there were a couple of children in the cinema wiping away the tears – though this shows how heavily invested in the characters they became.

Unfortunately, despite being 94 minutes in length, Inside Out does feel a little drawn out in places and lacks the deeper storytelling elements that has made some of the studios other films so charming. This isn’t to say it lacks charm, but it’s in slightly shorter supply here.

Overall, Pixar has added another cracking film to its ever-increasing roster. Whilst not hitting the heights of Wall.E or Toy Story, it makes for a memorable and sensible film for the whole family to enjoy.

It’s the perfect start to the summer holidays. Roll on The Good Dinosaur.

https://moviemetropolis.net/2015/07/26/a-delightful-treat-inside-out-review/
  
Sausage Party (2016)
Sausage Party (2016)
2016 | Animation, Comedy
7
5.8 (32 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Utterly Ridiculous
Just when Sharknado: the 4th Awakens made you think film-making couldn’t get any more ridiculous, a movie like Sausage Party comes along to remind you that Hollywood can always go that one step further to mind-boggling peculiarity.

Of course, that’s not always a bad thing, there have been countless weird and wacky films over the years that have gone on to become cult classics – look at Kick-Ass or even Pulp Fiction for examples of that. But for every Pulp Fiction there’s a Sharknado. So is Sausage Party good weird or as stale as a month-old bagel?

From the mind of Seth Rogen, Sausage Party is a strictly adults only animation that combines hugely offensive language and racial stereotypes with surprisingly meaningful religious undertones. And do you know what? It’s a breath of fresh air.

Life is good for all the food items that occupy the shelves at the local supermarket. Frank (Seth Rogen) the sausage, Brenda (Kristen Wiig) the hot dog bun, Teresa Taco and Sammy Bagel Jr. (Edward Norton) can’t wait to go home with a happy customer. Soon, their world comes crashing down as poor Frank learns the horrifying truth that he will eventually become a meal. After warning his pals about their similar fate, the panicked perishables devise a plan to escape from their human enemies.

Directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan take Rogen’s intriguing premise and inject a warmly familiar animation style, distancing itself just enough to make any comparisons simply inconceivable. Sausage Party is like nothing you will have ever seen.

The voice-acting is great too. Rogen plays his usual film staple – in sausage form – with the spicy Salma Hayek outdoing everyone else as a lustful taco. Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Michael Cera and Jonah Hill also lend their familiar voices to a hot-dog bun, a bottle of spirit and two other frankfurters respectively.

Elsewhere, the comedy, for the most part, hits the spot. As dreadful as it sounds, the racial stereotyping works incredibly well in food form. British tea, Mexican taco shells and German sauerkraut will have you rolling about the aisles with their outrageous vulgarity, but everyone needs to release their inner teenager once in a while.

Unfortunately, the films standout sequence has already been shown in the trailer – a side-splitting food-eye view of a normal kitchen, before every edible item is butchered; that poor Irish potato didn’t stand a chance. This is a real shame as the rest of the film doesn’t quite match up to the standard of that scene.

Nevertheless, there’ll be chuckles throughout as numerous celebrities are parodied in food form. One in particular, immortalised in chewing gum, is incredibly well thought out.

And that’s where Sausage Party succeeds the most. Underneath the polished animation and crude humour, this film is actually kind of clever. It tackles religion, war, race, sexuality and food waste very well indeed and that’s something the genre doesn’t ask for. It’s just unfortunate that it’s not quite as funny as the trailer would have you believe.

https://moviemetropolis.net/2016/09/03/utterly-ridiculous-sausage-party-review/
  
It: Chapter Two (2019)
It: Chapter Two (2019)
2019 | Horror, Thriller
I’ve always been a fan of Stephen King movies, even some of those that were not particularly good or well received. For someone who is a fan you think that would inspire me to pick up at least one of his books to get a feel for what the author truly intended over the stripped down,

“Hollywood-ised” versions. I can’t put my finger on why I haven’t, it’s not because the size of many of his novels are daunting, it’s more that as a reader I’m just not a horror book fan. So when it comes to sitting in on a Stephen king movie I have to rely on the story by it’s modified merits then to compare and contrast what IT does well (or not).
Like many before me, my first movie experience of IT was the classic mini-series featuring an incredibly creepy (and non-CGI’d version) of Pennywise portrayed by the extremely talented Tim Curry.

I even went out and purchased the mini-series before I went to see the first chapter of the remake of IT, just to see how those two compared. IT: Chapter One introduced us in great depth to the teens of the original losers club. A group of misfits, who went on their own personal crusade to attack and kill the nefarious clown while saving one of their own. A strong pact was formed and an oath sworn that if IT ever returned to Derry that the group would once again join together to put a stop to IT for good.

IT: Chapter Two picks up 27 years later, the group has moved on with their lives, all except Mike (Isaiah Mustafa as an adult and Chosen Jacobs as a younger version) who has felt a sense of responsibility to watch over the town and research how to kill IT if IT were to ever return. A horrific killing of an adult at the fair and subsequent disappearances of children alert Mike that the plague that has befallen Derry for generations has returned to feed. Mike reaches out to each of the losers reminding them that something they have all feared has come to pass.

Each when notified experience a fear that is indescribable yet for some reason the groups memories of the past have become clouded.

The now adult losers (with several flashbacks featuring the original cast) come together to remind themselves of the past, and the pact they made to protect the future. Featuring a star studded cast, Mike, Bill (James McAvoy/Jaeden Martell), Beverly (Jessica Chastain/Sophia Lillis), Ben (Jay Ryan/Jeremy Ray Taylor), Richie (Bill Hader/Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (James Ransone/Jack Dylan Grazer) and Stanley (Andy Bean/Wyatt Oleff), must battle their lost memories, their fears and the very real danger if they are to save Derry and themselves.

IT: Chapter 2 continues the incredible character building that Chapter 1 began. Where each of the young actors were perfectly cast as their book counterparts, their adult versions could easily be mistaken for the grown-up versions. This is the area where IT shines the most, the story of the losers who have grown and moved away, yet still share the unescapable bond of friendship. While an older Bill struggles (much like Stephen King himself) to come up with good endings to his stories it’s what he writes at the end of IT: Chapter 2 that really sums up the movie as a whole. To summarize, there are no good friends or bad friends, there are only friends, and chapter 2 is an example of how you take a band of misfits and turn them into heroes.
Sadly, for all the things IT does from a character side, it tends to drag on and over CGI its monster side. Pennywise the clown (portrayed brilliantly by Bill Skarsgård) brings with him all the creepiness and fear that the movie needs, even posters of his maniacal self is promoting lawsuits in other countries due to his ability to scare small children. So, it seems a bit disheartening that the studio felt it was necessary to go overboard with their CGI budgets. Many scenes go from being creepy and scary to simply being silly when our favorite clown is turned into a giant naked hag like figure. This is where I felt the mini-series did a far better job, due to its limited budget and shorter time requirements it allowed for the viewers to imagine the evil and not see it thrown out for the world to see.

IT: Chapter 2 also drags out far longer than it needed to. Make sure you get your bathroom breaks in, because the film, not counting previews, is just about 10 minutes shy of being three hours. I’m normally not one to complain about the length of a movie, as I’d rather they tell the story they want instead of trying to compress it into a shorter run time. However, in this case, it seemed entirely wasted on an overabundance of clown mutations and an extremely drawn out final battle. It’s unfortunate, because one of the most unused (and potentially interesting characters) Henry Bowers (Teach Grant/Nicholas Hamilton) is given only a few minutes of screen time and ultimately adds nothing to the movie as a whole. As I stated earlier, I haven’t read the novel, but I have to assume that he played a far bigger role in the book.

As it stands in the movie, his character is both unnecessary and completely ineffective at whatever he was attempting to do. I think some of the time taken away from the battle scenes to flesh out his (or other supporting characters) would have be time better spent.

IT: Chapter 2 is a good movie, that with some reduced special effects and better time management is just shy of being a great movie. The story of the kids, now grown up, is one of forgiveness, bravery and love. It shows how true friendship can overcome distance and time and that those things never truly vanish, even if the particulars of what separated you in the first place is a bit fuzzy. Horror movies with outrageous budgets tend to lose the spirit of what makes a true horror movie scary…it’s rarely about the effects, and more about the imagination.

That’s what makes the books typically so much better than the movies, after all, each one of us imagines our own version of what truly scares us (although clowns tend to be scary regardless of how they are portrayed). IT: Chapter 2 provides a satisfying ending to a story that began a few years ago, it suffers a bit from its budget and its use of CGI effects, but it’s still a story of what all of us losers can accomplish if we band together.
  
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil (2011)
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil (2011)
2011 | Animation, Comedy, Family
4
6.3 (4 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Does anyone remember the original Hoodwinked movie? Nobody else does, either. Blue Yonder Films, the studio that brought you Doogal tries to pull another rabbit out of their hat by releasing a sequel to the twisted fairy-tale movie titled Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil. All of the original voice characters are present from the first film, except for Red (Anne Hathaway was replaced by Hayden Panettiere), and Kirk the Woodsman (Jim Belushi , who was replaced by Martin Short).

It doesn’t really matter if you’ve seen the first movie, as a storybook opening catches the audience up on the current situation. A short intro introduces the HEA (Happily Ever After Agency; shouldn’t that be HEAA?) staking out a Wicked Witch who is holding Hansel & Gretel (Bill Hader & Amy Poehler) hostage in her Gingerbread House. The main protagonist, Red Riding Hood (Panettiere) is off on training, and her former partner, The Big Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton) is handling the situation with Granny (Glen Close).

Of course, the seemingly simple scenario changes to a conspiracy which has actually been masterminded by the hostages, in order to drag a secret from Granny. Granny is a part of the Sisterhood of Kung-Fu Bakers (the “Hood” in the film’s title), and possesses the recipe of a secret weapon known as the Super Truffle, which supposedly makes those who consume it invincible. The movie has a small army of all-star cast members, and each one makes the most of their parts.

Unfortunately nearly everything else in the film misses the mark, from the writing, direction, and even the animation. Many other computer-animated movies today feel a lot more organic, and although the visuals of this sequel are better than the first there are times when character movements appear more programmed than motion-captured. Most of the jokes in the movie require one to have lived during the 70s or 80s, and nearly all of them are groaners. Jokes like “Dog is your co-pilot”, and a backwards sign where “dyslexic” is clearly visible are just too obscure even for the average adult. Sure, this is a family movie that should have something for everyone, but the preview theater I was in had a large mix of children and their parents, and there was only one time when the audience laughed as a whole.

There are a few running gags that did receive a positive audience response. Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong play two of the Three Little Pigs (hitmen for hire), and they received most of the genuine laughs. Another running gag was of a banjo-playing goat, who is constantly being fallen upon by other characters. This gag did get some chuckles, particularly from children, but was an obvious rip-off of “Scrat” from the Ice Age series, but just didn’t have the same charm. Most animated films either have amazing visuals, humor or heart, and the best ones blend these essentials together. Unfortunately none of these elements are present in Hoodwinked Too to make the audience feel for Red’s story, and the semi-warm victory at the end is simply “meh”.

You won’t be missing anything by skipping this film at the box office. It might be worth a rental when it comes out on DVD, but you and your family can still live a full and satisfying life without it.