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Hoodwinked into success

"Hoodwinked into success" Continued...

Issue: "Tighter lips?," Feb. 18, 2006

Hoodwinked falls in a long line of twisted fairy tales, from "Looney Toons" to "Rocky and Bullwinkle" and "The Muppets." But, as a CGI animated feature film, its closest relative is the enormously popular Shrek franchise. Mr. Edwards acknowledges the similarities but stresses that he and his collaborators worked hard to set Hoodwinked apart. They chose a different "color palette" and, knowing that they couldn't compete with the expensive top-notch animation of the Shrek films on their limited budget, decided to craft Hoodwinked's characters in the mold of Frosty the Snowman--like stop-motion animation dolls.

But there's a more important difference between Hoodwinked and Shrek that should be particularly noticeable to discerning family audiences: Despite some inspired goofiness that elicits real belly laughs from both kids and adults, Hoodwinked's humor is, well, surprisingly tame.

Mr. Edwards provides a simple explanation that may seem obvious-but rare-in the industry. "The humor is not too base or crass because if you're going to make something and call it a family film . . . then don't have sexual innuendo in it. . . . And I don't want to resort to kicking people in the crotch and fart jokes because I've seen that a thousand times and I just roll my eyes. You want to be hip and smart with your humor and make people laugh without having to do the most obvious gut-level jokes. You can kick a character in the crotch just about any time, any place . . . but you have to resist that urge and go for something smarter."

Smarter is good. Smarter, especially when it comes to kids' movies, is great. But how does Mr. Edwards see his faith intersecting with his work? Acknowledging an understanding of "calling" in the classic Reformed sense of the word-that Christians are called to sanctifying roles in everyday life, not only as pastors or missionaries-he said, "I've worked a lot in Christian media, enough to know that what I am driven to do and how I'm driven to entertain is not with Christian message-type films. I tell people I'm a filmmaker who's a Christian, not a Christian filmmaker-and the difference is that I'm driven to tell mainstream genre, entertainment stories."

Diplomatically, Mr. Edwards continues, "It's not that those other films don't have their place, because I think that they do. I just know that the stories I'm driven to tell will hopefully have my Christian ideals filtered into them-but might not necessarily end with a dramatic Christian or salvation-type message."

Mr. Edwards said he is excited about new opportunities to work and be counted as a Christian before major figures in the industry. "There's a lot of witnessing that will go on through me as I work on the set with people and in the studio realm. The film, which is the result and the end product, and how it affects the audience, is only one aspect of what can happen," he said.

Mr. Edwards said Hoodwinked is "my first footstep into this world of being able to have a little more professional credibility and getting to make another movie." His advice to others? "Work on your craft, make an exciting movie, and you can filter in something you want to affect the culture. Hopefully I'll be able to do some bigger things with the next film."

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