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 l... Read allA 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.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.
The film opens with RJ on a scrat-like adventure after that-one-piece-of-food and he suffers all the detours and diversion that this mission entails. As is the meticulous animation style of DreamWorks, it lacks the rewarding simplicity of Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age) and does not quite achieve the same level of hilarity and laughter that the latter effortlessly elicits. It even mimics the possum playing dead from Ice Age: The Meltdown which evokes more raised eyebrows than anything. At this point I am also noticing that Willis' voice is much too muzzled and unremarkable to be lent to a protagonist. Although, Nick Nolte makes for a fine bear villain.
Soon 'Over the Hedge' thankfully abandons mediocrity and completely stuns me with layered humour and an energy that it begins to apply to all aspects in the film, the hyper-active ADHD squirrel Hammy most of all. It spirals into an enjoyable romp evenly peppered with 1) goofy light laughs for kids (courtesy of Hammy the squirrel), 2) balanced gags-for-all such as the hilarious zealot exterminator who botches his way through the tracking down of the pesky vermin and 3) sophisticated humour and interwoven references from Citizen Kane, A Streetcar Named Desire and Dr Phil. It is a perfect amalgam of different sorts of comedy and blends and balances its content with deft strokes. Granted, the story neatly ticks off clichés from a formula but it does so skillfully.
Indeed there is a surprising amount of sophistication to be found when you weed through all the standard spoofs. Specifically the film directs social commentary on humans' and animals' eating habits as RJ remarks how "We eat to live. Humans live to eat." It juxtaposes these lifestyles when the forest family teams up to assault the neighbourhood in which larger-than-life boxes and packets of nachos, donuts and popcorn are abundant and the shiny silver fridge is Mecca. In the midst of the food-heists there is much action to be found in the form of vibrant, kinetic chases, shooting rockets and acrobatic stunts over the hedge. It is even a bit chaotic toward the end but a great slow-motion capture ties the pacing together.
The aforementioned render 'Over the Hedge' a very alive film and its action alone rightfully vaults it into 'Great Animated Comedies' status. It is no Shrek, but it's extremely enjoyable. Like Shrek however, DreamWorks provides for the crisp, aesthetically-intoxicating animation of nature whose every screenshot is so picturesque that you just want to snap a picture of, frame and hang in on your wall. What's more is that its heist-oriented core with its mandatory sense of immediate danger tingling in the air is something of what Mike Tyson was the boxing in the 1980's: A safe bet.
8 out of 10
- Oct 23, 2006