On the looks: Red Riding Hood requires a suspension of belief in the grooming habits of (French? Russian?) medieval peasants. There are manicured nails, gelled-up hairdos, and people who look as if the lack of indoor plumbing wasn't an issue. But, this is cool with me, because I can suspend disbelief for the sake of a movie or TV show. After all, one of my favorite TV shows of all time is Xena: Warrior Princess.
Xena and Gabrielle had perfectly washed and shiny hair despite their home being the ancient equivalent of an RV (a horse) and sleeping outdoors under a perpetual full moon (EVERY episode). They somehow managed to discover Grecian waterproof mascara and fabrics that were never, ever stained despite being in bloody battle. And it's not that they didn't show the characters washing; "Xena and Gabs Bathe Together" was practically a requirement each season. All this, and no viable income. Through the course of the show Xena (no spoilers, only teasers!) becomes an angel, a demon, a vampire and the Hindu Goddess Kali, among other things. And I still loved and believed every minute of it.
|All in a day's work for Xena.|
So the pretty, pretty looks of Little Red Shiny Hair didn't overly bother me. I mean, look at her! She's lovely, no?
|That's not Robert Pattinson on the right. Seriously.|
Turns out, one of the villagers has come down with a fever of 100 and werewolf, and for once, it's not Jacob! No one is safe because the werewolf could be anyone!
|You could grate cheese on those abs.|
No spoilers, but let's just say things get a bit wild. Wolfie wild. A bit of plot happens. The film borrows Xena's perpetually full moon. And so on with all that entails. (Sadly, no lesbian subtext bathing scenes. That just must be on Xena.)
Little Red Valerie (through no fault of her own) is accused of witchcraft, and finds herself under lock and chain by Gary Oldman. (Unf!) Amanda Seyfried proves her acting chomps; while she may look stoic and a bit bored by the proceedings, it's all a brave front. A brave front not to jump Gary Oldman's bones. Oh, wait, that's just me? Ah. Well, then, Valerie just looks kinda bored. Guess she's still into the younger dudes.
|Valerie has yet to learn that like fine wines, men get better with age.|
Because of the atmosphere, you ask? The realistic setting? The costuming? The building tension toward cinematic climax? No. I forgot I was watching a movie, because I thought the reel had switched to an elaborate episode of Beverly Hills: 90210, in which Dylan and Brandon put their animosity aside to let Kelly decide who she wants to take to the dance. Teenagers! Cool!
Not-Bella-Valerie now has to escape some locks with her trusty crush sidekicks, find out who the real werewolf is, and somehow make it to grandma's with a basket.
No spoilers. But I will tell you she manages to avoid three bears and porridge, so good on her.
Conclusion: Admittedly, Red would have appealed to me more at age 10 or so, around the time I started reading Babysitter's Club books. Teenagers were cool. They had problems. And could go places without their parents. And this movie? Tween fantasy fodder. Henri or Peter? Who should she choose? OMG!
But actually, there was an effort (however flat it fell) to have suspense, Freudian subtext and feminism woven into the tale. Val's no passive Bella, and her plot includes more than just choosing who to date.
At best, tween girls can take from it a figure in solidarity for when feeling like an outsider. Being accused of being a witch -- and not in the good Hermione (Harry Potter!) sense -- in the sense of being the outsider, the one who is to blame for all the problems, a nice easy fall guy to point fingers at, someone that others use to bond over in mocking. That is something every tween girl will face, either as the accused or the accuser, desperately pointing at someone else lest the blame fall on her. That's a tale as old as time.
For the rest of us?
There's always BAMF Gary Oldman.
|Sid Vicious, Sirius Black, AND Dracula. Bite me, Sparklevamps.|