It seems that the most logical and commonsensical movies these days are those directed at children. Increasingly, moreover, kids' films are also among the most insightful into social realities. The Incredibles, for example, comically places litigiousness and a concern for individual responsibility at the center of its story. Sky High observes how the American education system suppresses children's natural creativity and ambition. The two Shrek films are full of satirical jabs at modern society.
It should be little surprise, then, that the new film Hoodwinked, based on the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood, actually deals with issues such as intellectual property and piracy. In this cheeky version of the story, Granny has a snack-food empire that is threatened by an unknown intellectual-property thief who has been stealing recipes from businesses all around the forest. Beginning with an incident at Granny's house—where Red is menaced by the Wolf, disguised as Granny, when the lumberjack bursts in and all are carted off to the police station so that the authorities can set things straight—the film moves on to a Rashomon-style investingation in which each of the various characters involved in the central events gives their version of the story.
Comical allusions abound in the subsequent flashbacks that look at the central events and place them in context, as is appropriate for a film dealing with intellectual property theft. We see references to Star Wars movies, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Mission Impossible, The Matrix (all too inevitably, alas), and much more.
The use of a Rashomon-style narrative form, however, does not induce any doubts about the human search for truth, as it does in Kurosawa's film. The makers of Hoodwinked treat the central story as a puzzle-style mystery, with the investigation being led by a suave detective, a long-legged frog named Nick Flippers, based on Nick Charles of the Thin Man novel and movies. As a result, the effect of the film is exactly opposite that of Rashomon, for in Hoodwinked everything has a cause and it is indeed possible for humans to know the truth.
Naturally, everything turns out well at the end. The thief is identified and taken into custody, Granny has been revealed as a swinging elderly babe, Red is given a chance to throw off the chains of her all-work-and-no-play lifestyle, and the forest's economy is able to get back to normal. On the whole, an interesting and surprisingly mature treatment of the issues.
Would that we could say the same about movies aimed at adults these days. For those who are sick of watching sensitive men moon over distant, emotionally disturbed women, or hikers tortured and killed by strangers in the wilderness, or young adults out on benders and venery hunts, or modern-day cowboys whose love dare not speak its name, or tendentious dramas about the evils of corporate America, or repressed individuals who throw off the shackles of conventionality and learn to follow their impulses—or much of the rest of the wonderfully mature and sophisticated movie fare of our time—today's movies aimed toward children may be just the thing.
Judging by their output, it appears that today's Hollywood believes that true maturity, intelligence, and decency are kids' stuff. Apparently they have studied their Jean Jacques Rousseau well but not wisely.