Plot: Lance Walters (Timothy Omundson) is a high powered lawyer with few moral scruples, but his tactics have landed him in hot water of late, as even other lawyers are stunned at his behavior. So he is let go and in need of some capital to start up his own practice, he decides to build a mansion on a remote piece of land he owns, then sell the finished lot. So he and his girlfriend Brittany (Thaila Ayala) prepare to send some time in the woods, but at the last minute he is asked to watch his son, who he hasn’t spend much time with over the years. He reluctantly agrees, then heads to his rural land to begin construction on the house. But little does he know that the lot already has at least one resident, a troublesome woodpecker named Woody. As the project begins, Woody acts out and tries to sabotage the building process, even while he forms a friendship with Lance’s son. But can he keep the house from encroaching on his own home, avoid the wrath of some local poachers, and learn a valuable lesson about friendship and family in the meantime?
Entertainment Value: This is one of those family films that takes a beloved cartoon character, then mixes it together with live action slapstick, not always a formula for a great movie. In this case, the movie at least tries to be a live action version of a cartoon and piles on wild, ridiculous scenarios. So no, this movie is no classic, but it does make an effort to feel like a cartoon at times. This means over the top violence as at times, as Woody blows up an RV, leaving the woman inside covered in soot, the kind of stuff you’d see in older cartoons. I can see some parents taking issue with some of these scenes, but it is played in such a comedic, over the top style, plus Woody directly addresses the audience at times, reminding us not to try this at home. While some elements feel like the old cartoons, other elements veer from that formula, such as Woody pooping on his enemies and farting his beloved theme song. But kids are likely to love this gross humor, so it isn’t much of a concern. In other words, no this isn’t a faithful take on the classic cartoons, but it does at least make an effort here and there.
Woody himself is a CGI creation and looks fine, designed to look like his old self, not a realistic bird. This was a wise choice and while not all that impressive, the CGI on Woody is more than acceptable. The human cast involved is fine as well, though the acting is mostly called on to be silly and over the top, especially the performance of Timothy Omundson. He plays a pretty standard career driven, less than socially minded type, who eventually sees the error of his ways. His work here is ham handed, but that is what the material needs. He handles the comedic pratfalls well and his boisterous presence adds to the movie. The cast also includes Chelsea Miller, Thaila Ayala, Scott McNeil, and Jordana Largy, as well as others. The redneck hunters are kind of fun, often the brunt of Woody’s violent rampages. In the end, this new take on Woody Woodpecker is no animated classic, but it is better than I expected and likely to get some laughs from younger audiences.