Red Riding Hood

a film by Catherine Hardwicke

Catherine Hardwicke's Red Riding Hood is already a ridiculous enough attempt at the classic legend, that when we finally get to the moment where Amanda Seyfried's titular heroine looks at her grandmother and remarks on what big eyes, ears and teeth she has, any feeble hope of redemption is long gone. But what is worse than the movie being such the aforementioned ridiculous mess that it most certainly is - much worse - is the fact that the film is just one long and slogging bore. Such a bore that one must wonder why Ms. Hardwicke, who obviously realizes the overtly sexual themes of the original story and places such psychological points into her plot, does not go any further with such ideas than the Hollywood-mandated PG-13 level that she ends up going with. Oh yeah, I just answered my own question.

Obviously made to appeal to the typical teenage girl demographic that has made the Twilight movies such the international phenomenon that they have become, Hardwicke, who of course directed the first of those damned tween vampire stories that make the legendary neck-biters seem like glistening pussies, and may have permanently scarred the very genre itself (not to mention the disservice done to the lycanthropic crowd - taking yet another hit in this movie), is once again playing the pandering card to full force. One should not be at all surprised at the tame - and quite immaturely romanticized - take on the equally iconic story that we receive here, from this director so far removed from her directorial debut, the wild-in-comparison thirteen, that one would not even guess they were ever the same person. Not surprised at all. Yet, the utter ordinariness of Hardwicke's film (so ordinary that even the usually wild-eyed Gary Oldman seems bored out of his skull, merely going through the motions of the great werewolf hunter he is meant to be playing) is still a shame no matter how unsurprising its inevitability may very well be. A great shame indeed.

The shame is in the sad fact that in order to get a movie made in Hollywood these days, one most pander to a certain audience and make their story as close to the PG-13 realm as possible - the rating with the highest potential of ticket sales. The great shame comes in the sad fact that the story of Little Red Riding Hood is so rife with psychosexual undertones that it would make a most interesting movie if one were not forced to kow tow to the ever-important teen/young adult audience in order to get a movie made in what constitutes as mainstream moviemaking these days. In fact there have been very interesting takes on the classic tale already made. Most notably Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves, Matthew Bright's neo-noirish take, Freeway, starring Reese Witherspoon as "Red" and Kiefer Sutherland as the proverbial wolf/serial killer, and David Kaplin's 1997 short Little Red Riding Hood featuring Christina Ricci. But then, none of these were made in the same suffering atmosphere as Hardwicke's quite lackluster take on the whole shebang. But then again, one should not be at all surprised by the outcome. Not surprised at all. [03/15/11]