The eyes have it: Amanda Seyfried's peepers are the star of 'Red Riding Hood'

THOUGH DESIGNED to draw comparisons to "Twilight," the LOL "Red Riding Hood" brings another movie to mind.

As an overripe fable set in a realm of processed images and overheated performances, it's really more like "300" for girls.

Just about everyone, though, will have a hard time keeping a straight face during "Hood," which updates the noted bedtime story with heavy breathing, tongue kissing and many unintentional laughs.

Amanda Seyfried stars as Valerie, a fetching village girl whose suitors include a blacksmith, a woodcutter and a werewolf.

I leave it to you to decide which of these slavering males delivers the worst performance, but, in fairness to the cast, they appear to be under orders (via director Catherine Hardwicke) to be as cheesy as possible.

And why not?

Certainly a little cheddar hasn't hurt the "Twilight" series, also a story about a small-town girl with a surplus of boyfriends and problems.

"Twilight," though, is set in a real town, and its heroine is a real girl, embodied by the accessible Kristen Stewart.

"Red Riding Hood" is a full-on fantasy, anchored by the otherworldly Seyfried, whose fantastic eyes eventually become the most interesting feature of every movie she's in.

With apologies to Kim Carnes, I think Seyfried could go eye-to-eye with Bette Davis and win. In "Hood," they are the centerpiece of Hardwicke's money shot - Seyfried in a blinding-white field of snow, wrapped in a scarlet cloak, her jade-green irises examined via slow zoom.

OK, I'm just going to say it.

What big eyes you have, Amanda.

And what trouble you seem to have finding a movie that can put them to good use.

The Razzie-ready "Riding Hood" flounders for the right tone - stabs at horror get laughs, stabs at steamy romance get laughs, even stabs get laughs.

There are moments when all is lost to farce, traditionally a cue for Gary Oldman. Here he plays a papal emissary and werewolf-slaying eccentric who shows up to announce that the werewolf isn't a wild animal, it's one of the locals.

Since the werewolf has a thing for Valerie, suspicion falls on her boyfriends, who are about as ferocious as the monsters in that Warren Zevon song ("I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic's, and his hair was perfect").

Another candidate - Amanda's grandmother, played by the still lovely Julie Christie, whose startling blue eyes made her the Seyfried of her day.

Of course, she had David Lean to photograph them, and she wasn't making "Red Riding Hood."

She was making "Doctor Zhivago."

Red Riding Hood

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke. With Gary Oldman, Max Irons, Lukas Haas, Julie Christie, Michael Shanks, Darren Shahlavi, Billy Burke, Amanda Seyfried, Virginia Madsen, Shiloh Fernandez. Distributed by Warner Bros..

Running time: 1 hours, 40 minutes.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (for violence and creature terror, and some sensuality).