"Hoodwinked" is an irreverent, hard-edged retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" — a high-energy, imaginative entertainment aimed at younger audiences. Replete with the violence typical of vintage cartoons, it opens in time-honored fashion with Little Red Riding Hood, known as Red (voice of Anne Hathaway), arriving at her grandmother's quaint cottage in the forest only to find the Wolf (Patrick Warburton) disguised as Granny (Glenn Close), who is tied up in a closet. A ruckus ensues, and an array of cops, led by Chief Grizzly (Xzibit) descends upon the cottage, ready to arrest the Woodsman (Jim Belushi) for assaulting the Wolf, even if he is impersonating Granny.
Suave detective Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), a frog reminding one of Truman Capote in "Murder by Death," takes over, and a classic fairy tale becomes a film in which everyone offers a version of what's going on. Flippers' shrewd deductions usher in a slew of razzle-dazzle action sequences involving no small amount of wrongdoing and shady antics. Director Cory Edwards and colleagues Tony Leech and Todd Edwards even work in musical numbers. "Hoodwinked" hasn't much time for soul or sentiment, but it is certainly amusingly smart and sassy.
"Hoodwinked," rated PG for some mild action and thematic elements. Running time: 1 hour, 21 minutes. Exclusively at the Grauman's Chinese for one week, 6925 Hollywood Blvd., (323) 777-FILM.
The future is noir in the chat room
Michael Almereyda has followed up his remarkable "Hamlet," which starred Ethan Hawke and was set in present-day Manhattan, with this tantalizing speculation on what role the Internet will play in a universe of lonely people desperate to connect with others. "Happy Here and Now" is set in seedy side-street New Orleans in the near future when it will be possible, via electrodes attached to one's forehead, for an individual to project in chat rooms whatever image of one's self one chooses. This presents a challenge to a young woman (Liane Balaban) tracking down her missing sister (Shalom Harlow), who had become beguiled by a young man. On another level, this is a droll, laid-back film noir steeped in Crescent City atmosphere and music that culminates in the colliding worlds of genuine and virtual reality. With David Arquette, Karl Geary, Clarence Williams III, Ally Sheedy, Gloria Reuben and the late Ernie K-Doe.
"Happy Here and Now," rated R for some language. Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes. Fairfax Cinemas, 7907 Beverly Blvd. (at Fairfax Avenue), (323) 655-4010.
Contrived 'Angels' is beyond saving
The late Frank Gorshin's talent for mimicry yields a delightful George Burns, but "Angels With Angles" is an otherwise lame and overly contrived comedy studded with former TV stars and largely unconvincing impersonations of other showbiz legends.
When Burns ascends to heaven, God (the late Rodney Dangerfield) explains that as a first level angel he will have to return to Earth to help an unemployed musician (Scott Edmund Lane, who also wrote, produced and directed the film) through a midlife crisis if Burns is to ascend to level six to be reunited with his beloved Gracie Allen.
The musician is soon off to Miami at the behest of his feckless best pal (David Proval), at which point the plot turns upon a hopelessly inane Cuban cigar-smuggling scheme.
Julie Carmen is vivacious as an anti-Castro revolutionary, and Frank Stallone is one of the better Elvis carbons, but there's little more to be said for "Angels With Angles."
"Angels With Angles," rated PG for sensuality, violence and language. Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes. Exclusively at the Fairfax Cinemas, 7907 Beverly Blvd. (at Fairfax Avenue), (323) 655-4010.
Lives intertwine in South Africa
Mark Bamford's "Cape of Good Hope" is a sentimental, multicultural slice of life in Cape Town, South Africa, too pat and unsophisticated to withstand comparison with Robert Altman's incisive mosaics. It is best viewed as a pleasant minor effort with decent performances.
Its linchpin is Kate (Debbie Brown), director of an animal shelter. Kate wastes her time in an affair with a married man, who is worse than a cad, yet on hand there's a sweet but shy widowed veterinarian (Morne Visser) who's crazy about Kate. Of more interest is her assistant Jean Claude (Eriq Ebouaney), a refugee from the Congo and an astronomer struggling to emigrate to Canada, and Lindwe (Nthati Moshesh), a single mother determined to make a better life for herself and her young son. Jean Claude and Lindwe are drawn to each other but wonder if they can afford to place their hearts above their ambition. Another of Kate's assistants, Sharifa (Quanita Adams), is trying to bear a child.
The stories are interlinked effectively, and the film strikes an upbeat note yet does not address racism and discrimination. For all its affection toward its characters, however, the film is too long and too slack.
"Cape of Good Hope," rated PG-13 for mature situations including some violence, sexual content and brief strong language. Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes. Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 848-3500; One Colorado, 42 Miller Way, Pasadena, (626) 744-1224; and the University 6, Campus Drive and Stanford, across from UC Irvine, (800) FANDANGO 143#.