Over the Hedge


Bruce Willis as RJ (voice)
Garry Shandling as Verne (voice)
Steve Carell as Hammy (voice)
Wanda Sykes as Stella (voice)
William Shatner as Ozzie (voice)
Nick Nolte as Vincent (voice)
Thomas Haden Church as Dwayne (voice)
Allison Janney as Gladys (voice)
Eugene Levy as Lou (voice)
Catherine O’Hara as Penny (voice)
Avril Lavigne as Heather (voice)
Omid Djalili as Tiger (voice)
Sami Kirkpatrick as Bucky (voice)
Shane Baumel as Spike (voice)
Madison Davenport as Quillo (voice)

Despite a few problems with pacing, “Over the Hedge” is fun for both kids and adults. Steve Carrell as Hammy the Squirrel really steals the show from the amusing cast of characters.

“Over the Hedge” is based on the comic strip of the same name.

After hibernating through the winter, a group of forest creatures awaken to a startling discovery – their forest has been turned into a suburban neighborhood. A large hedge now surrounds their little patch of remaining forest. Verne, a cautious turtle that leads the group, warns them not to go through the hedge. However, a newcomer countermands his orders. RJ the raccoon arrives on the scene and tells them to take advantage of the human neighborhood. He leads them into swiping food from garbage cans, stealing objects from garages, and generally taking what they want from the humans. RJ leads them into increasing perilous situations, much to the dismay of Verne. Little does he know that RJ has an ulterior motive for gathering all the food and knick-knacks. But will he lead them into certain doom when the humans call a pest control specialist – the Verminator – on the scene?

“Over the Hedge” is rated PG for some rude humor and mild comic action.

What Worked:
Creating a film with a cast of suburban varmints was a fantastic idea. Who hasn’t had encounters with squirrels, possums, skunks, and other animals in their neighborhoods? The creators of “Over the Hedge” use the concept to its full comic potential. Besides the obvious jokes of possums playing dead or skunks doing what skunks do, the creators take the jokes a step further. A scene where RJ analyzes the excesses of humans and their food is particularly funny (and is a highlight of the commercials). Another scene where the skunk attempts to woo a cat is a great homage to Pepe LePew. It ends up being a great mix of social commentary and physical humor.

While some of the jokes are more sophisticated, there’s plenty here for children to enjoy. My son, weeks after seeing the film at a sneak preview, is still attempting to burp his ABC’s just like Hammy the Squirrel. Another encounter with a hyperactive dog that yells, “Play! Play! PLAY!!” will have kids in stitches, too. It ends up being a great mix of humor for both children and adults.

“Over the Hedge” was very well cast. Bruce Willis makes a charming rogue as RJ. He does bad things in the film, but you still like him by the end. William Shatner is also amusing as Ozzie, an overacting opossum that frequently plays dead. However, Steve Carrell steals every scene he’s in as Hammy, a hyperactive squirrel. Carrell is absolutely hilarious and a big scene of his at the very end of the film is quite amusing (though a little reminiscent of “Hoodwinked”).

The animation in this film is quite good. The forests are very detailed and the hair on the main characters looks great. While there’s nothing apparently landmark in the animation technology, artistically it looks pretty good.

What Didn’t Work:
While the majority of “Over the Hedge” is a lot of fun, there are a few parts that are rather bland. Any time the film turns “serious”, the movie grinds to a halt and the toddlers start getting antsy. Also, some of the characters aren’t terribly exciting compared to Hammy and Ozzie. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara are not really used to their full potential as a couple of porcupines. Garry Shandling is also sadly boring as Verne. It’s his job to play the straight man to RJ, but he doesn’t do much more. Avril Lavigne also isn’t given much to do as Heather, Ozzie’s embarrassed daughter. I also have to add that the trailers and commercials show most of the best parts of the movie. If you’ve seen them, there’s not a lot more that it has to offer.

The Bottom Line:
Despite a few flaws, “Over the Hedge” is a solidly entertaining film for both children and adults. Dreamworks has another animation hit to place alongside “Shrek.”