Over the Hedge
Michael Fry and T. Lewis' daily comic strip Over the Hedge is a quirky look at woodland animals adjusting to life after humans invade their habitat. It's not hugely popular, but does have its fan base. The story does transition well to the big screen, which is why there is now an Over the Hedge movie. This is the latest entry from Dreamworks animation. It thankfully lacks the smart-alecky hipness of Shrek, and the cookie-cutter mentality of Madagascar. The animation looks good, and storywise, it is a step closer to PIXAR, but still pales in comparison.
Like the comic strip, a group of animals try to deal with human encroachment upon the forest. They awaken from their hibernation to find a huge hedge. Over that hedge is suburbia - tract housing, manicured lawns, SUVs, and most importantly, junk food. RJ the raccoon (voiced by Bruce Willis, Lucky Number Slevin, 16 Blocks) wants to be their guide in collecting food from humans. In actuality, RJ stole a large amount of food from Vincent the bear (voiced by Nick Nolte, Clean, Hotel Rwanda). He has one week to get the same amount of food back else Vincent will eat him, and RJ sees these new innocent animals as his ticket to freedom.
Verne the turtle (voiced by Garry Shandling, Town & Country, What Planet Are You From?) is the de facto leader. He is extremely skeptical of RJ's ideas, worsened by a horrific trip into suburbia. The other animals warm up quickly to RJ, and quickly adapt to suburbia and the benefits of an everlasting supply of junk food. The script by Len Blum (The Pink Panther, Private Parts), Lorne Cameron and David Hoselton (Brother Bear, Catch Me If You Can), and Karey Kirkpatrick (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Chicken Run) is fairly standard in terms of animated films. RJ is tricking everybody, and at some point, Verne and company will discover this. By the end, everybody will most likely learn a warm fuzzy feeling about family.
The close-up animation is beautiful. The animators do marvels with the animal fur, and Verne's skin also looks great. Further away, things look a bit more ordinary. However, Kirkpatrick, who co-directed with Tim Johnson (Sinbad, Antz) do not create characters that are memorable enough. RJ and Verne are. Then, they clutter Over the Hedge with far too many one-note characters. Steve Carrell (The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Bewitched) works as Hammy, a hyperactive squirrel, but others like Wanda Sykes (Monster-In-Law, Pootie Tang) as a skunk and William Shatner (The Wild, Miss Congeniality 2) feel more like stunt casting than anything else. Sure, viewers can recognize the actors, but aside from that, there is really no point. Over the Hedge is a nice movie, but not a great movie.
|Haro Rates It: Not Bad.|
|1 hour, 27 minutes, Rated PG for some rude humor and mild comic action.|
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