Monday, May 21, 2012

Best Animated Short Make-up Review - Redux Riding Hood (1997)

So if you're one of the two people that have been following my blog since I started it, you should know that in the 19 years that I've reviewed, there are two films that I haven't seen. And they both happen to be from Disney. One was Lorenzo, the 2004 film about a pompous cat whose tail comes to life thanks to some witchery. And the other is Redux Riding Hood, the 1997 film that serves as like an afterstory to the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. Both films were nominated for the Oscar, but neither film won. After the losses, Disney had shelved the films and they have not been found online or on DVD releases for years, with only a guest appearance at a festival with Oscar-nominated animated shorts. Lorenzo is still MIA, but after 15 years under lock and key, Redux Riding Hood is finally available online. I wrote about the film back when I did the 1997 reviews, but now that I have finally seen it, I might as well do a full review.

Director Steve Moore is an industry veteran who worked as a storyboard artist before making Redux Riding Hood, and continues to do so. He also finds ways to connect with fans, both via a YouTube channel that he started back in 2007, and now with an animation blog called Flip Animation, which he started back in January with fellow animator Alex Williams. Back in January of 2011, Moore had posted a teaser clips and a teaser trailer from the film. There was hope that he would post the rest of the film soon, but for over a year nothing came out of it. Yet today he shocked the animation world by posting the full film onto YouTube, and then writing about it on his blog. On his blog entry he didn't mention why he was able to post the full film, but he did go into great depths on the making of the film. I'm not going to paraphrase what he wrote, but I highly encourage you to go to his blog and read the entry.

Anyways, as for the film itself, I had made a conjecture as to the plot of the film from watching the teaser clip and the teaser trailer. To my surprise the plot is fairly similar to what I imagined. The wolf is relatively successful, with a loving wife (even though she is a sheep), a good house, and a stable job. However, things are not as they seem, as he must deal with a case of full-blown Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that had plagued him for the past five years*, ever since he had a famous run-in with Little Red Riding Hood. He is unable to function normally, and his wife suggested that he do something about it. While I'm sure she meant that he see a psychiatrist for some alpha antagonists to get rid of the dreams and counseling to help him deal with the other symptoms. However, he chose to go another route for closure. An accomplished mechanic, he makes a time machine and uses it to travel back to five years earlier and get Little Red Riding Hood once and for all. However, things don't ever go the way he would like. Will he ever get closure?

Back in my original "review", which was based completely on the teasers, I wrote that "the animation of the film is good, with fluid character animation and backgrounds done with mixed media, [giving it the] feel of Monty Python animation or the ending to the Oscar winning It's Tough to Be a Bird (1969.)" My comment on the film's animation hasn't changed. Neither has my comment about the film's soundtrack, which played before the teaser trailer and was "composed" by jazz saxophonist Bennie Wallace. The soundtrack itself is more fractured than it was in the trailer, but still has the jazzy feel. What the teasers did not show was the film's terrific humor, from the pen of sitcom writer Dan O'Shannon, who wrote for shows like Modern Family and Cheers. His script includes loads of verbal as well as visual humor. The former is derived mostly from the snappy dialogue while the latter comes from the madcap slapstick, highlighted by the film's deranged montage at the end. The voice acting crew is full of stars like Michael Richards as the wolf, Mia Farrow as his long-suffering wife, Lacey Chabert as Red Riding Hood, Fabio as the Hunter, and Garrison Keillor as the Narrator. It's also got veteran voice actors like June Foray, Jim Cummings, and Adam West. And the cast really does a great job putting the script onto the screen. It's a terrific film that definitely deserves to be seen by the entire viewing public, even as a film about the effects of PTSD.

Where Can I Watch It?

*Just for completeness's sakes, here is the diagnostic criteria for PTSD as taken from the DSM-IV TR. Patients need to have an event with threat of death or injury (check) and have a feeling of intense fear, helplessness, or horror (also check). Furthermore, patients need to meet the criteria for intrusive recollection (which the wolf had with recurrent thoughts, dreams, and feeling of reliving the experience), avoiding or numbing of emotions (the wolf did not do much in avoiding the situation, in fact he does the opposite. However, he does have detatchment from his wife, decreased emotions, and a sense of being a failure), and hyper-arousal (difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and exaggerated startle response). Plus, he's had the symptoms for five years (which is greater than the one-month limit) and is functionally limited, as his job performance and social interactions have suffered. So yes, this is classic chronic PTSD.


  1. It's certainly a well-deserved little film that I'm glad it has finally saw the light of day (if only on YouTube). It felt more like a love letter to Ward Kimball's work to me personally with it's skewered art style and photo/xerox objects in the backgrounds (many came from a 1940's Montgomery Ward catalog I've read). Everything just sorta came together for this film as I see it with the writing, music and voice acting.

    It's certainly a film that leaves me wishing we had more of this, and from what a few had said about Darrell Rooney's "Three Little Pigs" (another film in the same "Redux" series), I'd love to see that too if it ever surfaces.

    One thing I kinda dig about the wolf's design that I simply love is the double-jointed arms and legs, which have two sets of elbows and knees, giving him this rather angular, somewhat mechanical yet fractured look the way he bends his appendages in movement.

  2. TV's Frank was going to write "TLP".