Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
|Featuring||Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Wanda Sykes, Nick Nolte, Catherine OHara, William Shatner, Steve Carell, Eugene Levy, Thomas Haden Church, Allison Janney|
|Director||Tim Johnson, Karey Kirkpatrick|
|Producer||DreamWorks Pictures, Bonnie Arnold, Chris Kubsch|
“Taking back the neighborhood… One snack at a time.”
Garry Shandling says he’s really a shy guy so this part helped him to sort of “come out of his shell” and his mouth muscles worked overtime on a scene where he chewed on a protein bar for about 20 er 30 er 50… 250 (?) takes until he got a line right. Steve Carell drank a power brew of 10 per cent coffee while the other 90 per cent of that java was sugar, every 30 minutes to get that “manic” feel to his character. Wanda Sykes does a smooth act as a no nonsense skunk with an attitude, which she says is mostly her comedy act, but weird to do as a monologue with no audience feedback. William Shatner does an absolute gem of a job as a parody of—himself! Then there is Mr Die Hard himself, Bruce Willis, who confides he had a hard time with the comic timing because of lack of a live audience response to the jokes. “Was that funny?” he would ask the crew after each take. No problem guys, you were all very funny!
They all say they’re very excited about this funny, bright and most times hilarious animal romp through suburbia called “Over The Hedge.” Carell’s five year old daughter thinks her Dad is especially cool now, because he’s the guy who can burp his ABC’s on cue. Willis is taking his kids to see it again in a theater, after the premiere, for that slot of family time. He says it’s really funny and you should see it more than once so as not to miss all those jokes that fly by. Surprisingly palatable comedy too, because “Over The Hedge” is not really all that “over the top.”
Full of wonderful realistic computer animation, “Over The Hedge” has characters you can relate to and have a fun time with. What modern kid’s animation flick doesn’t have “potty jokes” these days? This one has a few, but they are not as distasteful as many out there and it is kinda funny when a character burps and tinges the air a deep magenta. Also a surprising enough relief; the skunk doesn’t show her “colors,” which by the way is a predictable puce green, but only once and at a time in the story when it is totally expected. “Over The Hedge” doesn’t milk every scene for laughs. The humor is natural and the jokes are timed right and not squeezed out or forced on the audience.
So, here’s how the hedge leaf falls:
R.J. a starving citified Raccoon (voice of Bruce Willis) as well as a brash scavenger, tries to steal the enormous pile of junk food goodies that a big bear named Vincent (voice of Nick Nolte) has hidden away in his cave for his post-hibernation breakfast. As R.J. is in the process of slipping away with a little red wagon full of packaged human snack-e-do’s, the big bear awakes and the wagon rolls out of the cave and onto the high way where the food is destroyed. The furious Vincent gives R.J. one week to replace it all, including the red wagon, or else R.J. will be the breakfast!
R.J., very much a loner, needs some help. As he goes on the lookout for assistance he comes across a suburban smorgasbord evidently sprung up over the winter and also trips over some forest creatures just awaking from a long winter’s nap.
The smooth talking R.J. soon enlists Verne the turtle (voice of Garry Shandling), a sweet-natured porcupine family headed by Lou (voice of Eugene Levy) and Penny (voice of Catherine O’Hara), a highly excitable squirrel named Hammy (voice of Steve Carrell), a possum dad (voice of William Shatner) and daughter (voice of pop star Avril Lavigne), and an outspoken skunk named Stella (voice of Wanda Sykes). Their familial habitat has been shrunk to next to nothing as they slept over the winter, pushed out by 54 acres of suburban housing, dogs, cats and humans! This band of diverse forest creatures are a “family” waking up from their long hibernation, hungry and totally dumbfounded by the seemingly endless “thing” they have never encountered before—The Hedge.
R.J. arrives just as they learn that while they were sleeping, suburbia took over most of their woods. He tells them that this is very good news because people bring FOOD—and not just bark and berries. He introduces them to left over power bars, sparkling caffeine drinks and chocolate chip cookies—and, despite Verne’s best efforts to persuade them to be cautious, after their first taste of cheesy nacho chips, there’s no turning back.
As the story usually goes, R.J. is so intent on getting Vincent back his food supply that he winds up taking advantage of this “family” of naive woodland animals. They become so devoted to him that they nearly get themselves “Verminated” by the local exterminator in order to save R.J.’s neck. But, in the end R.J. comes to their rescue and learns that “Family” is the true gateway to the good life.
Rated PG for some rude humor and mild comic action. “Over The Hedge” is mostly fine viewing for anyone over age 8 and great family fare. By “rude humor” I mean there are references to nakedness when Verne loses his shell and Stella does talk about her “butt” and everyone KNOWS what it’s like when she does that “skunk thing” that all skunks do! Hammy asks if anyone will help him find his nuts (supposedly in reference to foraging for food…). R.J. in describing just how much food lies within the great silver cans in every driveway in suburbia, says these guys will find “food out the wazoo!” This movie will be a good one for families who understand the dry humor of the comic strip and enjoyed the likes of “Shrek”.
I am a sucker for animated animals, more of a sucker for slap stick and am, I gotta admit it, still a kid at heart. God meant for us to laugh. He doesn’t just want us to be happy, but He wants us to go that step further and be filled with joy. The light hearted antics in “Over The Hedge” might just get your family that much closer.
“Rejoice! And again I say… Rejoice!”
Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3