Directed by Steve Moore
Screenplay by Dan O’Shannon
A corporation as vast and impressive as the Walt Disney Company would, you’d think, have a massive amount of interest in releasing its many creations. People love Disney for various reasons, and are typically happy to part with a few bucks to own part of what made up their childhood or what’s defining their children’s lives. And yet, there are many forgotten or lost bits and pieces of Disney history that the Internet is enabling all of us to find in either the most random of places or at the most random of times. A few months ago, for example, a never-officially-released and somewhat controversial behind-the-scenes documentary of The Emperor’s New Groove, from the perspective of the musician Sting (who worked on the film), made its way to YouTube for a few hours. Today, there’s a slightly less incendiary video floating around on YouTube, of a 1995 Disney short retelling the story of Red Riding Hood with a spin.
Steve Moore and Alex Williams, proprietors of the Flip Animation blog, put up a post Monday about Redux Riding Hood (http://flipanimation.blogspot.ca/2012/05/here-it-is-redux-riding-hood.html), a 15-minute short Moore produced and directed for Disney TV Animation. The short, written by sitcom writer Dan O’Shannon, tells the familiar story of Red Riding Hood from the point of view of the big, bad wolf. The wolf (voiced by then-beloved co-star of Seinfeld, Michael Richards) is haunted by the decision to eat Red Riding Hood after dressing up as her grandmother, not because he regrets the choice but because he’s convinced he can do it better now that he’s learned from his mistakes. But to do that, he has to build a time machine and shun his poor wife (Mia Farrow; yes, really). Can the wolf rewrite fairy-tale history or is he destined to never gobble down poor Red?
By its very nature, Redux Riding Hood doesn’t have a lot on its mind, simply skewering the story we’re all familiar with and throwing tons of fast-paced gags at us, so fast we can barely count how many jokes there are or how many we’ve laughed at. The cast is delightfully eclectic: it’s narrated by NPR standby Garrison Keillor, and the supporting cast includes Don Rickles, Adam West, and Fabio. Richards is a game lead, though his manic tendencies as an actor are encouraged quite a bit throughout the short. The other notable—and admittedly distracting—element to the short is the background animation. It’s deliberately off-kilter, as we see many household objects looking awfully askew. While this decision on Moore’s part makes the animation stand out, it does lend to feeling a bit cheap (which is, to be fair, expected considering it’s a 15-minute short from the TV division).
Redux Riding Hood is essential mostly for the Disney history fanatics out there (and don’t be shy or ashamed if you are one). It’s a sometimes funny piece—a few of the more tossed-off lines work better than the obvious set-up-and-punchline gags—and is crafty and complicated in the second half, especially. But the historical element is most fascinating. Consider this as one of many likely rarely-seen shorts that the Walt Disney Company chooses not to release either because they assume it won’t make money or because they forgot it even exists. Redux Riding Hood is worth a look, even if it’s just as a historical curiosity.
– Josh Spiegel