Hansel & Gretel

When the names Sinbad, Tom Arnold, Delta Burke, Howie Mandel, and Bobcat Goldthwait appear in movies, it's usually not a good sign. All these people are either past their prime or never attained a decent level to be considered at their prime. Now, when all these actors appear in the SAME movie, it is not a good sign. Hansel & Gretel lives up to (or down to) all expectations. This is a listless adaptation of the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale, stretched out interminably long and endlessly boring for all but the smallest of children. This is just the latest in a long string of examples of adults who make movies that they think children will like. What they end up doing is underestimating the intelligence of kids, and the result is a really dumb movie.

The concept here is that Hansel (Jacob Smith, Tadpole, Small Soldiers) and Gretel (Taylor Momsen, Spy Kids 2, We Were Soldiers) live with their father (Gerald McRaney, Tornado Warning, A Holiday Romance) and their evil stepmother (Burke, What Women Want, Sordid Lives), who wants them out of the picture. When their father is away, she leads them into a dangerous forest where they become lost. They are tired and hungry, and eventually meet the Sandman (Mandel, Spin Cycle, Tribulation), quite possibly the most annoying character in recent memory. He lisps, is effeminate, comes with loud sound effects and a bright costume, and is everything that adults think kids will like. He wants to lead them out of the forest but is pretty inept, and soon Hansel and Gretel end up in the house of a witch (Lynn Redgrave, The Next Best Thing, The Simain Line) who wants to eat them.

The main reason this adaptation fails is that it is too long and there is too much filler. The original story is short and concise, and by stretching it out to feature length, Jonathan Bogner, Timothy Dolan, and Gary J. Tunnicliffe (Guardian) had to come up with something. They opt for a forest full of cheap looking special effects, Trolls, Fairies, and other creatures that look only like people in creature suits. Tunnicliffe, who also directed, also decided to add in some crude fart jokes that don't help things any. There is not enough creative momentum to sustain Hansel & Gretel, especially given the abundance of lame humor. It takes forever to the kids to finally get to the house, and once inside the audience needs to deal with Sinbad (Good Burger, Jingle All The Way) as a raven. Sinbad in person is bad enough. Well, at least Tunnicliffe was smart enough to avoid making this a musical.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 29 minutes, Rated PG for thematic elements and some crude humor.

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