Who cares if we've been hoodwinked?

When it comes to contemporary animations, I think of the witty lines lampooning popular culture while delighting children evident in such features as Wallace and Gromit, Shrek, and Shark's Tale. But now comes Hoodwinked to make me forget those relatively mild satires.

This animation, starting where the Red Riding Hood fairy tale left off, is better for adults than children, so quick and sharp are its references and jokes. In fact, although the animations are big-eyed and innocent (both humans and talking animals), their tossed off remarks and robbery-framing set up are worth thinking about as well as enjoying

The fun comes when animal world cops bust up a disturbance at Granny's that includes the infamous wolf and some hitherto unknown types along with sweet Red, whose eyes have Keene girl softness. Finding out what Granny does in her secret life is witty, but not half as much fun as watching a suave frog detective weave in and out of these people's stories to end the proceedings, Agatha-Christie- like, with a surprise villain.

The animation is soft and colorful, the facial expressions perfectly suited to the world-weary irony you can feel in the animators themselves. Witty and lively, Hoodwinked shows how nothing is as it seems, but who cares if we've been hoodwinked--it's the journey that counts and brings the wisdom.

Bruno Bettelheim explains the value of fairy tales like Hoodwinked:

"A parent who from his own childhood experience is convinced of the value of fairy tales will have no difficulty in answering his child's questions; but an adult who thinks these tales are only a bunch of lies had better not try telling them; he won't be able to relate them in a way which would enrich the child's life."