"Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil" is all-sugar rush, its potential to charm adults and their young charges routinely drowned out by a bigger/faster/jokier ethos.
Directed by Mike Disa and scripted by the same team behind 2005's cheeky "Hoodwinked," the film sees Red (Hayden Panettiere, taking over for Anne Hathaway) now training ninja-style with an elite female goodies-making squad called the Sisters of the Hood. Fighting techniques include a flipping maneuver called the Spatula.
The Happily Ever After agency, meanwhile, run by British-accented frog crime solver Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), alerts Red and Granny (Glenn Close) that gingerbread-house dwellers Hansel (Bill Hader) and Gretel (Amy Poehler) have been kidnapped by a malevolent witch (Joan Cusack).
When the mission is further complicated by the theft of the Sisters' treasured recipe for a truffle delicacy that imbues its swallower with unstoppable powers, Red realizes she must bury the hatchet with old nemesis the Wolf (Patrick Warburton) and team up to prevent — what else? — world domination.
Though the scrappy, cheap-looking digital aesthetics of the original have been cleaned up (and given the 3-D treatment), the visuals now feel generic.
The operating dramatic principle seems to be characters continually flying through the air while simultaneously spitting out rapid-fire bad puns, putdowns and pop culture shout-outs. Once Wayne Newton, voicing a crooning harp in a swanky nightclub, makes a "Danke Schoen" joke, it stands to reason that Cheech and Chong — as two of the three little pigs — would get an "Up in Smoke" reference when their characters dynamite the Wolf's house.
Elsewhere, Panettiere's teen-drenched sass has the odd effect of making Red seem younger than she was under Hathaway, while Warburton's glib patter gets lost in all the mayhem. Hader and Poehler, however, bring absurdly silly Teutonic-accented gusto as their fairy-tale stalwarts take center stage halfway through.
Hansel and Gretel are this movie's breakout stars, but it's not enough to make "Hoodwinked Too" feel like anything but a storybook hurled straight at your head.
'Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil'
MPAA rating: PG for some mild rude humor, language and action
Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Playing: In general release