Magazine article The Spectator

Tale of the Unexpected

Magazine article The Spectator

Tale of the Unexpected

Article excerpt

Red Riding Hood

12A, Nationwide

Now, children, are you all sitting comfortably? Good, then I'll begin. Once upon a time, not so very long ago, the lady who directed the first Twilight film (Catherine Hardwicke) decided it would be a good idea to turn the traditional story of Red Riding Hood into a teen horror/fantasy thriller and no one thought to stop her which, children, is what happens when you already have one box-office hit under your belt. 'Yes, yes!' everyone probably said, before offering to park her car. At no point did anyone say, 'But, Catherine! What lousy ideas you have!' There is a lesson in here somewhere, children, if only I could think what it was.

So the film was made, and this is the film, and we like a turkey, don't we, children? We like a big fat turkey we can dance around, crowingly, don't we? Haven't we had a lot of fun doing that over the years? But this is such a dismal runt of a turkey it would probably have been kinder to strangle it at birth.

No, don't cry, please. It would have been kinder to all involved, as well as kinder to us. It would have, truly.

This has a reasonable cast - Gary Oldman, Julie Christie, Amanda Seyfried - but they can't surmount the material, even give up trying after a while, and I don't know how much exactly Ms Hardwicke ring-fenced for special effects, but suspect it was somewhere in the region of 55p, as the big, bad wolf looks like an outsized Labradoodle, and I wanted to pet it and tickle its ears. And the script? Banalities heaped on banalities, with lines that include: 'If you love him, you will let him go, ' although my favourite line? It is when a young lady says to the wolf, which is a speaking wolf, 'I will wait for you.' What?

Wait for him to stop being a wolf? So there may be a cure for being a wolf one day? Science. Isn't it amazing?

Now, the film is set in what looks like a Black Forest village in the Middle Ages. This is fair enough, as it's a very Grimm setting, and so appropriate, even if it is covered in a ton of preposterously artificial snow, and even if the wind does behave most weirdly.

Children, do not ask why hair whips wildly while trees remain motionless in the background, as that way madness lies. …

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