A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fairytale-spoofing sequel is full of double-meaning jokes for kids and adults, as well as loads of cartoonish, action-style violence. Both the heroes and the villains know how to fight -- with their fists, feet, and fancy weapons. A couple of minor characters seem to be crushed or fall to their presumed deaths, but there's more property damage than actual injuries, and no overt deaths. There's also one use of "damn" and a fair bit of "insult" language ("stupid," "doodie," "shut up," etc.), and some families may be bothered by the somewhat stereotypical way that an ogre and a giant are portrayed. That said, there are a few positive life lessons about redemption and collaboration, not to mention that most of the best agents are female (like Granny and Red).
What's the story?
Now a full agent at the Happily Ever After (HEA) agency, Red (voiced by Hayden Panettiere) is studying with mysterious female warriors the Sisters of the Hood when she's unexpectedly called back into action to aid Wolf (Patrick Warburton) in freeing her Granny (Glenn Close) from the clutches of an evil witch (Joan Cusack). The witch is supposedly keeping young siblings Hansel (Bill Hader) and Gretel (Amy Poehler) hostage, but as it turns out, the candy-loving brother and sister aren't what they seem. While Wolf and Red try to put their differences aside to work together, a secret Sisters of the Hood recipe for a magic truffle falls into the wrong hands and bestows almost unlimited power on the story's greedy villains, who want to sell the truffles to their fellow criminals.
Is it any good?
There's no doubt that the voice cast assembled for this rather unnecessary sequel is talented. There's Oscar winner Close, Saturday Night Live alums Hader and Poehler, and ubiquitous animated-film veterans Cusack and Warburton. But all of the movie's inside jokes and references to sequels and Hollywood and Shrek and The Sopranos (to name just a few) don't feel sophisticated or well-written like they did when the first Shrek and Pixar films were released. The heavy-handedness of the humor isn't funny; it's alternatingly derivative and at times cringe-inducing (the "talk to the hand" ogre, the Mafioso giant, etc.).
Sure, there are a few laughs (there's a banjo-playing billy goat who keeps popping up and narrating songs before getting injured in sillier and sillier ways), but they're far fewer than you expect from of a family comedy. A lot of the jokes are lazily written -- even if it takes animated movies longer than live-action ones to produce, there's no excuse for punchlines that would've seemed dated when the original came out in 2006 -- and you're more likely to think "Really?" than respond with a laugh. With far better kid-friendly movies out there, this definitely isn't a must-see movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why fairy tale adaptations are so popular. Why do filmmakers want to remake these stories again and again? What do the different versions of the tales have in common?
Did any of the characters seem stereotyped to you? Is that OK? Why or why not?
Do you think this sequel will appeal to viewers if they aren't familiar with the first one?
- In theaters: April 29, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: August 16, 2011
- Cast: Bill Hader, Glenn Close, Hayden Panettiere, Joan Cusack
- Director: Mike Disa
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Fairy Tales
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild rude humor, language and action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.