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'Hoodwinked' lacks charm

"Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil" (PG): While it's OK fare for kids 8 and older (younger kids might be scared at times), this animated sequel in uneven 3-D lacks the charm of the original.

"Hoodwinked!" (PG, 2005) spoofed "Little Red Riding Hood" and other fairy tales in a glib, modern style that was funny and clever. This time, the humor seems forced and old-hat. The filmmakers use the "Hansel and Gretel" story to make jokes about nasty Germans that were tired 30 years ago, and which kids won't get.

Red (voice of Hayden Panettiere) is now studing martial arts and high-end cooking with a group called Sisters of the Hood. Then the frog Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), who runs the secret Happily Ever After agency, gets word to her that a witch (Joan Cusack) who lives in a gingerbread house has kidnapped two children, Hansel and Gretel, and plans to cook them. Red and Wolf (Patrick Warburton) try to patch up their differences and go on a rescue mission, joined by Twitchy, the caffeinated squirrel. There's something about a secret ingredient to a cake, which could make the witch and her cohorts all-powerful. Too much plot, not enough fun in this sequel.

The many action sequences, most of them more comic than harrowing, do seem more intense in 3-D. Characters engage in martial arts fights and Red uses part of her cape as a bungee cord. Big green ogrelike creatures wear sumo wrestler-style thongs. A weird reference to "The Silence of the Lambs" (R, 1991) seems like a creepy addition, though only adults will get it. And of course, there is toilet humor. The most frequent exclamation is "oh, muffins!," but the dialogue occasionally features an adult-style insult such as "dirtbags."


"Fast Five" (PG-13): "Fast Five" is entertainment more suited to high schoolers, as it depicts extremely violent fights and vehicular chases and barely avoids an R rating by not getting too close when the bullet or the heavy metal pierces the victim. Even the chases, while breathtakingly staged, imply tremendous danger to bystanders and property.

Key characters from the other films in the drag-racing series ("The Fast and the Furious," 2001; "2 Fast 2 Furious," 2003; "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," 2006; "Fast & Furious," 2009 -- all PG-13s) turn up in "Fast Five."

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is sentenced to prison as the film opens, but ex-lawman Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) and his love Mia (Jordana Brewster), who is Dom's sister, stage a daring crash and free him. Now resigned to living as outlaws, though nonviolent ones, they meet in Brazil and stage a car heist on a train. There's a drug connection they didn't know about, which brings in the relentless Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), an American agent. Still, Dom, Brian and Mia forge ahead with a plan to rob a drug lord in Rio, calling in former cohorts (among them Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris) to plan it.

The dialogue is surprisingly non-profane. Perhaps that was the trade-off for all the violence in order to keep the PG-13 rating. There is, however, some profanity, including rare use of the F-word. The sexual slang and innuendo in the guys' banter gets pretty crude, but not obscene.

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