"Hoodwinked": No kidding, the goat almost saves this movie

I don't know who Benjy Gaither is, but I'd like to thank him: As the voice of a relentlessly cheerful, ukulele-playing goat who sings all his lines, he singlehandedly kept "Hoodwinked" almost watchable.

This animated comedy, based on the "Little Red Riding Hood" fairy tale, is mostly a misfire that doesn't seem to know who its audience is. It's a bit too in-jokey and knowing for kids, yet nowhere near funny enough for grown-ups.

Written and directed by a pair of brothers, Cory and Todd Edwards, "Hoodwinked" adds numerous gags and updates to the familiar story line. This Red (voiced with confident charm by Anne Hathaway) is something of a tough cookie; wearing trousers under her familiar cape and riding a bicycle to make deliveries for Granny's home-baked-goody business.

Grandma (Glenn Close) turns out to be an extreme-sports competitor complete with tattoos (which is, alas, not quite the hoot that the Edwards brothers seem to think it is).

The wolf (Patrick Warburton) is in reality an investigative journalist ("Why couldn't I write movie reviews?" he moans at one point), who busies himself piecing together the story of what happened at Grandma's house.

The Woodsman (Jim Belushi) is really an actor and avid yodeler. And on it goes: The lead detective is a debonair frog named Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), the sheep (Chazz Palminteri) is named Woolworth, and that wisecracking goat, who sounds like he could well have a future in bluegrass, keeps turning up, as if auditioning for a different, funnier movie.

The digital animation ranges from competent to clunky, the jokes too often feel tossed-off and random, and the movie too often descends into dullness, only to be yanked back from the abyss by the goat.

Perhaps I'm harping on the goat (possibly just for the pleasure of writing the phrase "harping on the goat"), but really, there's nothing else here.

Perhaps "Hoodwinked" might have worked as a half-hour television cartoon, but here, it's just masquerading as a feature film, like a wolf in Grandma's clothing.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Movie review 1.5 stars

Showtimes and trailer

"Hoodwinked," featuring the voices of Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, Jim Belushi, Patrick Warburton, Anthony Anderson, David Ogden Stiers, Xzibit, Chazz Palminteri, Andy Dick. Directed by Cory Edwards, from a screenplay by Edwards and Todd Edwards. 80 minutes. Rated PG for some mild action and thematic elements. Several theaters.