Does Cinderella grow up to blow her inheritance on Jimmy Choo glass slippers? Did Sleeping Beauty find a second career as an expert in sleep disorders?
A new take on the classic fairy tale suggests what the future might have held for two famous fairyland siblings.
The backstory of “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” is familiar. Dumped in the forest by their father, little Hansel and sister Gretel stumble across a welcoming looking gingerbread house. Inside, however, waits a cannibalistic witch with plans to lure them in and have them for dinner—literally. Luckily the clever duo outsmart, outwit and outplay her.
So far it sounds like the story Mrs. Rice read to us in kindergarten.
But here is where the fairy tale fractures. After the happily ever after of the original Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) become bounty hunters specializing in the tracking and extermination of witches. Immune to witch spells and curses, they are uniquely qualified for the job, but as the human sacrifice of the deadly Blood Moon approaches, Hansel and Gretel learn why their father abandoned them in the forest so many years ago.
If you watch the opening credits carefully you’ll notice the names Will Ferrell and Adam McKay—the team behind comedies like the upcoming “Bachelorette”—listed as producers. “Could this possibly be a comedy?,” you might ask. Well, no. It’s more a funny idea than a funny movie. There are some hints of humor sprinkled throughout, but it can’t rightfully be called a comedy. Or a horror movie. Or an action movie.
In fact, I’m not exactly sure what to call it. It contains elements of all those things and yet it doesn’t really work at being any of them. Sure, there is a cool looking troll named Edward, a giggle or two and some raucous fight scenes, but unlike “Zombieland,” which took a genre film and subverted it into something else entirely, “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” doesn’t really work.
Renner and Arterton are serviceable as seventeenth Bavarian bounty hunters who speak like they have there own A&E reality show. “The only good witch is a dead witch,” says Hansel in a line that feels paraphrased from the lips of the most famous bounty hunter of all, Duane “Dog” Chapman. All that’s missing is his ridiculous bleached hair and a can of mace.
“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” is set up for a sequel, but somehow I doubt this will spawn a franchise. Now “Little Bo Peep: The Modern Prometheus,” that’s a story I’d pay to see for a movie or two.