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 on loner raccoon R.J. (Bruce Willis) who has made the mistake of raiding the hibernation supplies of Vincent the bear (Nick Nolte). After managing to lose all of Vincent's food, R.J. is given an ultimatum: he has one week to replace it all, or he will become a bear snack. R.J. then manages to stumble across a group of animals that hibernate together, Vern the turtle (Gary Shandling), Stella the skunk (Wanda Sykes), Ozzie the possum (William Shatner) and his daughter Heather (Avril Lavigne), Lou (Eugene Levy) and Penny (Catherine O'Hara) the porcupines and their brood, and Hammy the squirrel (Steve Carell). The clan has discovered that while in hibernation, their forest was developed into a residential neighborhood and has left them with only a small patch of land to gather food from.
R.J. appears and decides to take advantage of the situation: he will show the family how to raid the houses just on the other side of the hedge that separates their small patch of woodlands from the development, and when they have gathered everything together, he plans to take it all back to Vincent. Vern proves skeptical of R.J., but the rest follow along, and Vern begins to feel jealous about R.J.'s newfound place in their hearts. Meanwhile, the head of the development's association, Gladys (Allison Janney) has called in an exterminator (Thomas Hayden Church) to take care of this new infestation problem.
Over the Hedge is about as broad based as entertainment comes: it features lots of cute, cuddly animals who perform elaborate hijinks for kids to laugh at, while offsetting this with some more adult oriented jokes and situations for the older set. Over the Hedge is a little less successful at this blending than some other films, such as Monsters, Inc. or Shrek. It is a bit more child oriented, relying on cuter gimmicks than some of it's brethren. It doesn't prove to be off-putting, the film is still more than entertaining for adults, it's just not quite as sophisticated as some that have come before.
Plot-wise, Over the Hedge is about as predictable as they come: the outsider looking out for numero uno who gets his heart melted with the kindness of a new family unit he has found. This contributes to the more child centric feeling to the film; many children may not have seen this played out as often as adults, so the material may seem fresher. Over the Hedge manages to combat this weakness by being consistently funny for most of it's running time. There are plenty of good jokes, gags and situations to leave most audience members laughing a good bit of the time (and in the end, isn't that what a comedy is about).
Voice-wise, most of the parts are fittingly cast. Bruce Willis has just the right amount of wiseguy smarts in his voice to sell cynical, self-centered loner R.J., Gary Shandling has the perfect combo of worry and parental concern, and Steve Carell brings a degree of hyper intensity to Hammy. Nick Nolte is also near-perfect for a bear's growly voice and Thomas Hayden Church really fills out the exterminator.
Over the Hedge probably won't go down as a great entry in computer animated history, but it does it's job well enough to be entertaining, enjoyable and funny. Again, sometimes, what more can you ask?
- Jun 5, 2006