An OK Screenplay Meets Terrible Animation
Here's the deal: I'm willing to give quite a bit of leeway when it comes to children's movies. I admit that I prefer it when there's a hefty dose of grown-up humor sprinkled throughout, but I can fully understand why many parents don't like this. The one thing that does seem essential to me is quality animation. Otherwise, what's the point? The animated universe can look like anything, as can the characters who live there. There are so many more possibilities for groundbreaking visuals than in live-action movies that why would they ever be half-assed. Especially considering all of those art school graduates who at this moment are tending bars and turning tricks and would happily provide beautiful art for very little money.
At the most basic level, an animated movie that isn't stunning is an enormous act of cynicism on the part of movie producers. They are assuming that they can make a lot of money from a crappy product aimed at people who are too young to either know the difference or earn their own money. But guess what movie producers? Little kids may not have jobs, but that doesn't mean they are tasteless idiots. Not all of them anyway.
So yes, the biggest problem with HT!Hvs.E is that it looks like the intro from a mediocre video game from 2006. I almost feel like ending this review here. If it wasn't worth their time to make a visually interesting kids' movie, it's not worth yours to go see it.
But...it could be worse. The writing is actually a notch this side of clever and the voice actors don't suck at all. There were a few parts at which I actually chuckled. Cheech and Chong are in it. And I loved the parts with the obese and villainous Hansel and Gretel (Bill Hader and Amy Poehler) and Verushka the Witch (Joan Cusack). Also, making Hansel and Gretel evil was a really good idea. (I always found those two to be more than a little sinister.) On the good guys' team, Patrick Warburton does a pretty funny deadpan Wolf, though Hayden Panettiere as Red sounds generic at best.
I won't get into the plot. It's dumb and predictable; but again, that's not really such a huge problem in a children's movie, since these dessicated tropes are still new to them. But even the most inexperienced moviegoer deserves a pretty picture.