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movie review: Red Riding Hood

Leonard Maltin By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin March 11, 2011 at 5:00AM

Have you spent years wondering what the whole story was behind the fable of Little Red Riding Hood? Have you had questions about the motivations of the wolf, or suspicions about Grandma? Have you pondered the sexual connotations of this age-old fairy tale?
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Have you spent years wondering what the whole story was behind the fable of Little Red Riding Hood? Have you had questions about the motivations of the wolf, or suspicions about Grandma? Have you pondered the sexual connotations of this age-old fairy tale?

Me neither.

Just the same, someone has made a movie about all of that. I’m afraid Red Riding Hood is just one of numerous fairy-tale films we’re in for over the next year or so. I hope at least a few of them are better than this turkey.

Amanda Seyfried plays the title character, who lives in a village at the edge of a deep, dark forest. The villagers live in constant fear of—

—a wolf who claims a sacrificial victim—usually an animal—whenever the moon rises. But when the wolf kills Riding Hood’s sister, someone summons Father Solomon (played by Gary Oldman), who takes charge and conducts a witch-hunt that’s almost as vicious as the wolf attacks. Oldman is such a fine actor that I hate to see him wasting his time on an overstated role in such a piece of tripe. (The perils of witch-hunting are driven home with all the subtlety of a pick-axe.)

It’s Oldman who intuits that the village isn’t dealing with a mere animal but a werewolf who is so crafty, he may be living among them undetected. Riding Hood now has cause to suspect everyone around her—including her boyfriend, Shiloh Fernandez, her betrothed, Max Irons (Jeremy’s son), and even her grandma, Julie Christie.

David Leslie Johnson’s script and Catherine Hardwicke’s direction are lumbering from the word go. If the producers were hoping for some Twilight type of sizzle from Hardwicke and the two young men who vie for Seyfried’s affections, I’d say they came up empty-handed. This is pretty dreary stuff.

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