A scheming raccoon fools a mismatched family of forest creatures into helping him repay a debt of food, by invading the new suburban sprawl that popped up while they were hibernating...and learns a lesson about family himself.
Spoiled by their upbringing with no idea what wild life is really like, four animals from New York Central Zoo escape, unwittingly assisted by four absconding penguins, and find themselves in Madagascar, among a bunch of merry lemurs
Boog, a domesticated 900lb. Grizzly bear finds himself stranded in the woods 3 days before Open Season. Forced to rely on Elliot, a fast-talking mule deer, the two form an unlikely friendship and must quickly rally other forest animals if they are to form a rag-tag army against the hunters.
Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman are still fighting to get home to their beloved Big Apple. Their journey takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a traveling circus, which they reinvent - Madagascar style.
Traveling raccoon con artist, RJ, arrives in a woods outside a human city in the Midwest, excited about the wonders that living near humans can bring hungry animals. What he finds, however, is an Amish-like community that is deathly afraid of humans, after their leader, Vern the tortoise (Shandling), has an encounter with human boys that terrifies him. Encouraged by RJ, however, the animals slowly venture over the hedge that separates them from the brand new suburban development that appeared over the winter while they were sleeping, and what RJ shows them is a whole new world where humans leave tin cans full of fish and other food in big canisters, ripe for the taking. As they get closer and closer to humans, however, their comfortable lives in the woods appears to be threatened... Written by
A fun movie that thoroughly demolished my low expectations
Let me say up front, I had low expectations going into the film. Although I like animation a lot, I wasn't too impressed with previous Dreamworks attempts. I tend to regard cutesy previews with suspicion, and was mostly just going along to have a potentially positive movie-going experience with my family. Things got a little worse when we arrived at the theatre, and both the ticket-tearing guy (if cinemas have a technical name for that role, I don't know what it is) and some poor sap from the commissary tried to pressure-sell the "fresh" soda and popcorn. We had to go out of our way to avoid an extra ad-hoc kiosk the food vendors established smack in the middle of the lobby. I hope that doesn't become standard practice. The twenty-odd minutes of previews were similarly underwhelming, and I was starting to get a little nervous -- is it going to be one of those days I'll want to forget? Then, at long last, Over the Hedge starts. Now I'm not an avid follower of the comic, partly because I don't get to read newspapers very often. The Over the Hedge strip is kind of a latecoming competitor to affections reserved for the beloved Bloom County of my childhood, so I'm not exactly salivating at the potential content. However, I gotta say, I was blown away from the start.
Over the Hedge is a neat movie. Granted, there are points where plot development is pure formula, and some of the dialog seems forced or weakly delivered, but these are minor snits. I was laughing out loud, along with most of the audience, which was well distributed agewise. I won't offer any spoilers, but I have to hand it to the screenwriters for seamlessly integrating action-based slapstick with some very cunning dialog, dialog that flies fast and furious enough that you'd better keep both ears wide open.
Messagewise, there are a few worth noting. I have not seen such a cutting indictment of suburbia since Edward Scissorhands. Some audiences may find the humor cuts a bit too close to home -- literally. Human eating habits are intensely scrutinized, for obvious reasons. Vanity and self-serving hubris are duly repudiated. Plenty of clever asides will appeal to a wholesome sort of cultural nostalgia, without ever seeming derivative or repetitive. There are both heartwarming and chilling references to the importance of family, especially a family under external pressures from a society that they do not understand, a culture that considers them vermin. But the messages aren't overplayed, and mesh well with the rest of this utterly hilarious movie.
There's more, of course, but the bottom line is entertainment, and this movie did not disappoint. Even the extended slapstick, which I seldom enjoy in movies, was so outrageous and excessive that it punched through to my funny bone and had me slapping my knee along with my family. Oh yeah, my family -- they liked the movie too, they liked it a lot. Over the Hedge is one of those solid films to which parents can bring children and everyone has an unreserved good time. That puts it in some pretty esteemed company -- right up there with Toy Story, Finding Nemo, A Bug's Life, et al. Highly enjoyable, highly recommended, 8/10.
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