Written by Len Blum and Lorne Cameron &
David Hoselton and Karey Kirkpatrick
Directed by Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick
Running Time: 1:30
for some rude humor and mild comic action.
Over the Hedge was a cute and sometimes funny animated film that isn't in the same league as the big boys, but is close behind.
RJ the raccoon is in trouble for stealing the food stash of a bear. He has a week to get all the food back, otherwise RJ will turn into a meal. He comes upon a group of forest creatures, including some possums, a squirrel, and lead by a turtle, who have just come out of hibernation, ready to gather food for their next hibernation period, 9 months away. RJ decides to use them for his own needs and in the end, learns about the importance of family and all that happy good stuff.
The story in Over the Hedge was pretty normal stuff. Take a group of cute animals, make them talk, learn a lesson or two, and you've got a typical animated movie. And there really isn't anything that sets the movie apart from other animated talking animal films. The animation looks good, but that's to be expected these days. The story, as I said, is fairly simple with nothing new thrown in. And the voices are all done by Hollywood (and in one case, musical) celebrities. Steve Carell, however, manages to once again steal a movie, this time just by his voice. He plays Hammy the squirrel, who is extremely hyper. Anytime he speaks the movie picks up and becomes immediately more entertaining. There's a scene where Hammy gets caffeine into his system, but the writers and directors take it in a slightly different direction, which leads to a very funny scene.
Unfortunately, this movie may also have the first instance I can remember thinking a voice did disservice to a character. Gary Shandling does the voice of Verne the turtle, the de facto leader of the group. As turtles are generally slow paced creatures, Shandling's voice is fine for when he's walking around. But Verne does a lot of yelling and screaming and flying and when you put Shandling's voice to that kind of action, it sounds really off. There's no urgency in the voice, even though the character is, for instance, off flying on a propane driven wagon.
As I said, the animation was pretty good. The one thing CGI animators have mastered is a forest. Scenes with trees and bushes and the sky all look photo realistic. Creating humans and animals and the like still look cartoony, but I would rather they do look like that. I want my animated movies to be cute not real. When they start to look too real, then I just want to watch real people. So from that perspective, everything in Over the Hedge looked very good. Maybe not as rich in colors and textures as a Pixar film, but still pretty good. The highlight of the movie may have actually been the short 'First Flight' that was shown before the film started. It tells the tale of a straight laced guy who becomes a teacher to a small bird. It's absolutely adorable and the 7-minute short got more applause than the feature presentation did.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I felt Over the Hedge was a solid animation feature, but didn't have anything really special to set it apart from other films of the same ilk.
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