Hansel & Gretel [2002]

Kids rule; stepmothers, witches, and boogeymen drool (quite literally) in this saucy retelling of the classic Grimm's fairy tale. It's night and the kids are in bed, afraid of the dark. Searching for a favorite bedtime story, their modern-day dad--apparently widowed--finds a mysterious volume, dusts it off, and begins to read aloud. Ironically, this 90-minute tale is anything but soothing. Edgy characters abound, from the ax-wielding stepmother (played by Delta Burke with Miss Piggy flair), to a gun-toting wood fairie and a wicked witch (Lynn Redgrave) who nips from the bottle. Thanks to a rather effeminate Sandman (Howie Mandel channeling interior designer Christopher Lowell), the journey takes many wacky turns but ends on a happy note. Add to this wicked brew several spoonfuls of TV references and potty humor, and the result is a show that 8- to 12-year-olds will lap up. --Liane Thomas

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