Though composer Murray Gold may be best known for his work on the similar television series Doctor Who (including Series 4 and Series 5) and Torchwood,  he’s also scored a few films in his time (Death at a Funeral, Alien Autopsy). But his popular work on Doctor Who is what enticed first-time director Mike Disa to seek him out for this sequel to the well-received 2006 animated film Hoodwinked!

In Disa’s own words: “When I was visualizing my approach to this film I knew it had to be a tongue-in-cheek action comedy… dramatic and bold but still playful and surprising.” As any fan of Doctor Who knows, this is Gold’s specialty. And Disa agrees: “I think his work on Doctor Who is the best music being written for television in the world today.” So with a backdrop like this it’s no wonder that Gold’s composition for this fairy-tale based sequel is reminiscent of his work for the good doctor. Semi-serious explosions of regality, present in tracks like “Sister Hoods,” harken easily back to Gold’s television work. But there’s a (slightly) more playful tone throughout this album than in any of the Torchwood or Doctor Who music. This is most likely a product of this film being a cartoon for children rather than a sci-fi fantasy for childlike adults, but it does seem that Gold is doing what he can to infuse this movie with an exciting sense of fun. I’m not sure he pulls it off every time – some of the themes feel a bit stilted (check out “A Hasty Exit” or “A Dastardly Growth Spurt” – there’s a forced sense of urgency here that isn’t lightened at all). It could also be the lack of a full orchestra – some music just feels a bit empty with too few musicians, and this could certainly be the case here.

Overall, it’s a passable collection of tracks for an animated film (46 minutes and 28 tracks is about average) and Gold manages to infuse a good deal of the album with a sense of adventure that works on the movie screen. I’m just not sure that it works on its own.

The soundtrack is an entirely different entity. This underwhelming collection of music launches with the rather empty (where is the beat here?!?) and overly auto-tuned rap track “You Know It.” It’s a lackluster and unfitting start to an album that’s more bubblegum than hip-hop.

Surprisingly, the two tracks sung by lead Hayden Panettiere are the best songs on the album. Both “I Can Do It Alone” and “Inseparable” sound like Avril Lavigne B-sides but Panettiere sells them with an impressive set of vocals (for an actress). But if there’s a name all over this soundtrack, it’s Dan Myers: he wrote more than half of the songs (including the two short Wayne Newton tracks) and performs four of them himself. On an album that clocks in under half an hour, half the album isn’t much music, but Myers manages to sound like Barry White (“Little Squirrel (Forage For Your Love)”) and the Brian Seltzer Orchestra (“Look Out Shorty!”).

Every song on this album sounds under-produced and that really starts to eat at its credibility. There’s a catchy lightness here that could be attractive to a younger audience, but I’m not convinced that these two albums needed to exist separately and couldn’t have been mixed together as one collection of music.

Zach’s Rating:
Music From the Motion Picture:
C-
Score From the Motion Picture: B
Perfect For: Entertaining your 5-10 year olds
Stay Away if: You don’t want to hear the same music repeated every 30 minutes

Visit Amazon to purchase the score or soundtrack to Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil

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