Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Review: Red Riding Hood

This review is up at OK.

Amanda Seyfried’s eyes are so big that when she confronts the Big Bad Wolf, he’s the one who says “What big eyes you have!” They are so big that they’re visible from the moon, and when Seyfried looks toward it, the microbes that live in the water droplets there mistake the eyes for full moons, turn to werewolf microbes and behave as though they’re starring in awful movies that are like Twilight but not as good.

And in a curiosity of the cosmos, the same thing has happened here on earth, so there’s this movie called Red Riding Hood that’s like Twilight, only not as good.
Consider that statement for a bit. Like TWILIGHT, but not as good. That’s being like Muammar Gaddafi, but not quite as tactful at handling protesters. It’s being like AT&T and dropping more calls. It’s like being like Ke$ha only not so classy.
Movie magician Catherine Hardwicke, who did such a great job with Twilight that she wasn’t brought back to make any of the sequels, manages to pull off the impressive feat, completing a cinematic axis of evil that also includes The Nativity Story. Billions of years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Larry King had just filed for his AARP card, Hardwicke was a promising director, who made the coming-of-age classic Thirteen.

Perhaps she’s discovered that there’s a lot more money in telling low-quality, condescending stories rather than socially relevant indie tales. I can’t blame her for selling out, given the fact that I would gladly perform a one-act play based on the life of Count Chocula for $100 and a few boxes of cereal – or best offer – but it’s sort of sad to see that Hardwicke’s standards are as low as mine.

At least she had good taste in choosing mega-eyed Seyfried, who plays the title character, somewhat disappointingly named Valerie. She lives in a dank village in the 16th century or so, before PETA was around to discourage citizenry from killing off the last of an endangered species – known to scientists as the Poorly Computer-Animated Werewolf.

Partial to a red-hooded coat that a werewolf hunter played by Gary Oldman hilariously refers to as “the harlot’s robe,” Valerie juggles the loves of two upright, devoted boys – one for each gigantic eye – stares downward and delivers monotone lines in the patented Bella Swan tradition of misunderstood teen angst.

I applaud the movie for its historical accuracy. Back in the 1500s, villagers didn’t speak English as we know it today. They instead used a dialect that consisted of vague British accents and employed King James Bible-speak to form passive-voice sentences that consisted entirely of plot exposition.

If you’re not won over by that fascinating love triangle, also a Clue-like mystery at hand as to which of the villagers is actually the werewolf in disguise. The key to solving the riddle is to keep an eye on Col. Mustard and the candle stick, especially when he nears the parlor. I congratulate the movie for making me guess wrong, as well as for managing to erase the reflections of the cameramen and crew from Seyfried’s humongous eyes.

Here’s hoping Hardwicke can top this masterpiece with her inevitable adaptation of Jack Jumps Over the Candlestick.

Starring Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman and Billy Burke. Written by David Johnson. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke. 96 minutes. Rated PG-13.

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