Monday, August 07, 2006

Over the Hedge (Johnson/Kirkpatrick, 2006)

Consistently funny and relatively inoffensive, Over the Hedge is a quality mainstream animated adventure that coyly introduces an environmental theme of woodland animals facing the prospect of encroaching suburbia and then safely retreats into a broad reinforcement of the concept of family. With Over the Hedge, Dreamworks does not venture too far from their formula for success; however, in this particular case, the copious celebrity voiceovers are mostly endearing and the occasional pop culture references are actually kind of funny. Bruce Willis and Garry Shandling are well cast respectively as a conniving raccoon and a cautious turtle that bump heads about competing ideas about foraging. William Shatner is also a welcome presence as a possum that is fond of hamming up his death scenes. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara’s use of Fargo-esque accents for a pair of porcupines is somewhat of a lazy choice, but the pair certainly has the comic technique to pull it off. At its best, Over the Hedge has comic set-pieces that are reminiscent of the kind of hilarity inspired by Looney Tunes. The chase scenes are well choreographed and I greatly enjoyed the film’s willingness to go extreme with some of the better jokes. Without spoiling the moment, I will also say that the film builds to a very funny climax involving an overactive squirrel that is refreshingly strange. I was less enamored by the direction of the skunk character voiced by Wanda Sykes. Her involvement in a distraction plot is probably the least inspired aspect of the screenplay and also gives the filmmakers an opportunity to dabble in Dreamworks’ trademark gas humor. I was also somewhat disappointed, though not terribly surprised, by the way the film sidesteps the environmental issue and instead embraces something far more generic. In the end though, such complaints do not ruin the fun of an enjoyable family comedy.



Post a Comment

<< Home