|Over the Hedge - Movie Review
From the makers of Madagascar and Shrek comes Over the Hedge,
an animated feature film for families. RJ the raccoon (Bruce
Willis) is a loner whose greed gets him into trouble with a
bear. An attempt to steal the hibernating bear's large stash of
junk food goes wrong, and now RJ has to pay the bear back before
the moon is full--in only a week's time.
heads towards a new suburban development and finds a group of
foraging animals as they are coming out of hibernation on the
first day of spring. The diverse group of animals, headed by a
cautious and caring turtle named Verne (Gary Shandling), wake up
to discover an enormous hedge blocking their tried-and-true path
to gather grains, nuts, and berries. They have 274 days to fill
the hollow tree trunk, and this obstruction leaves the group
feeling off-center. RJ presents himself and convinces all of
them except practical Verne that they can fill up their trunk in
only one week.
Now, RJ's plan is immoral, as he intends to recruit the naive
and good-hearted animals to gather the things he needs to escape
the bear's wrath. Along the way, however, the animals'
hospitality and generosity softens him. They make RJ feel like
he's part of a family--a family he didn't have.
RJ's take on suburban life is humorous. He explains that
humans drive around in SUV's "because they're losing their
ability to walk", for example. He tells the group that "for
humans, enough is never enough" and explains that animals "eat
to live" and humans "live to eat". Humans (and junk food) are
poked fun at, and, up to this point in the movie, it's a
humorous perspective that allows us to laugh at ourselves.
Later, however, it becomes a little too abrasive for our liking.
As funny and entertaining as the film is, we found the moral of
the story somewhat lacking in...morals! Yes, RJ made a
turnaround and redeemed himself. But, in the process, the
animals caused quite a bit of damage as they terrorized the
humans. The bad guys are Gladys, a suburbia resident who wants
to get rid of the animals, and the Verminator, an over-zealous
exterminator who Gladys has hired to do the job. It's funny and
kind of satisfying to see these two fail, but the film went to
extremes to take them to this point. In our opinion, the movie
would have been more satisfying if it didn't turn so high-energy
and sadistic near the end.
Despite these gripes, the movie was visually impressive and
featured some very likable and memorable characters.
Themes & Language: No suggestible themes noted.
Character Development: The characters are smart and interesting, but none of them stand out as exceptionally endearing. This is the area where the movie is lacking somewhat - the film doesn't tug at the emotions enough to be as memorable as many other movies in the genre, but some parents will appreciate this fact.
Messages: As noted above, there is an overall "tit for tat"
theme/message that might not sit well with some families.
Otherwise, the story points out the problems with greed and
deceit, pokes fun at human's love affair with junk food, and
promotes the concept of inclusion and the value of treating
friends as family.