Saturday, June 10, 2006

Over The Hedge

Title: Over The Hedge (2006)
Dir: Tim Johnson, Karey Kirkpatrick
Rating: *** out of 5 stars

As much as I loved Shrek and its sequel, Dreamworks' CG films have not done much else to impress me. Upon seeing the previews for Over The Hedge, I rolled my eyes at what looked like yet ANOTHER carbon-copy CGI flick about cute, fuzzy animals. I swear, I can barely tell these movies apart anymore.

However, the good reviews began rolling in and I decided to give this one a shot. Sure enough, it really is better than its generic counterparts. I like most of the voice talents and the animation is pretty good (unlike Shark Tale or Madagascar, ugh).

After RJ the sneaky raccoon (Bruce Willis) pisses off a hungry bear (voiced by scaryass Nick Nolte), he must collect a bunch of food for the furry beast in six days or get eaten himself. RJ tricks a gang of woodland foragers, led by a nervous turtle named Verne (Garry Shandling), into helping him repay his food debt. Along with a family of porcupines (including the oft-coupled Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara), father and daughter opossums (William Shatner, Avril Lavigne), a sassy skunk (Wanda Sykes), and a hyper squirrel (Steve Carrell), RJ invades a recently-developed suburban neighborhood.

As the animals enjoy the newfound pleasures of dorito chips and soda, old-fashioned Verne stays behind. Consequently, he begins to lose his friends to RJ, who is discovering for the first time what family means. Meanwhile, the animals are annoying a bitchy human realtor (Allison Janney) and she hires an exterminator (Thomas Hayden Church) to take them out.

As stated, the animation is pretty good. Obviously it can't even touch Pixar at their worst, but it ain't bad. While some of the jokes fall flat, I caught myself laughing out loud a few times. Hammy the squirrel, voiced by Carrell, can be very annoying or hilarious. The father oppossum Ozzie acts just like Shatner, which was pretty funny too.

Shandling and Willis are well-cast in the lead roles. Garry is appropriately neurotic and Willis' ever-young voice brings the necessary charm to RJ. The raccoon is essentially the Buzz Lightyear to Verne's Woody (hehehe), only the chemistry isn't nearly so good. The rest of the characters - both human and animal - are well cast, too.

Aside from the occasionally unfunny joke, I can't complain about much. I found the very end kinda lame (the nuts) but that's a small issue. I liked all the characters and there were even a few touching moments.

Over The Hedge can't compare to stuff like Finding Nemo or Shrek, but really, who can? Their brilliance is no reason to ignore an enjoyable family film like this one. Give it a shot.