It must be stated off the top that the people at DreamWorks really know how to make a good animated film. They have produced such high-level animated films as Shrek, Wallace & Gromit, Antz, Madagascar, and Shrek 2 in the past couple of years and show no signs of slowing down. Directors Tim Johnson (Antz) and Karey Kirkpatrick (first film) have done everything right with Over the Hedge. They have produced high quality animation, worked with a decent witty script, hired a talented voice cast, and made a film for all ages. The cute woodland animals and their zany hijinks, especially Hammy, will make the young ones laugh and the film is also filled with enough 'adult' humour (there are plenty of double entendres in this film, folks!) that their parents will also enjoy the film. The characters of RJ and Hammy will crack everyone up and the characters of Verne and Vincent will make us feel sorry for them. It also, if you bother to think a little deeper about the film, has two quite interesting messages about human overconsumption of food and goods and how little humans know about the animals that we share this Earth with. Pretty deep for an animated film, no?!? Actually, the only weak part of the film (notice how I did not say bad) is the voice work done by Canadian songstress, Avril Lavigne. Over the Hedge is not an original story or concept, but it is done in a fresh enough way that you won't care. It is good enough that maybe this film, despite opening up the same week as DaVinci Code, will end up doing good business at the box office.
RJ (Bruce Willis – Die Hard, The Sixth Sense) is a raccoon whose thieving ways tend to get him into trouble. Just before spring he cannot resist sneaking into Vincent (Nick Nolte – The Prince of Tides, Hotel Rwanda) the brown bear's cave while he is hibernating and trying to steal his whole stash of food. Vincent wakes up and is about to eat RJ when RJ strikes up a deal with him that if he replaces all the food before spring officially begins in one week then Vincent will let him live. Vincent agrees and RJ has 7 days to figure out a way to get a heck of a lot of food. While wandering through the forest, RJ stumbles upon a group of woodland animals who are just waking up from their hibernation. Verne (Garry Shandling – Doctor Dolittle, Hurlyburly) the turtle, Hammy (Steve Carell – The 40 Year Old Virgin, Bewitched) the red squirrel, Stella (Wanda Sykes – Monster-In-Law, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps) the skunk, Ozzie (William Shatner – from television's Star Trek and Boston Practice) the father possum, Heather (Avril Lavigne – Canadian rock singer) the young female possum, Lou (Eugene Levy – American Pie, Cheaper By The Dozen 2) the father porcupine, Penny (Catherine O'Hara – Chicken Little, Home Alone) the mother porcupine, and their children Bucky (Sami Kirkpatrick – first film), Spike (Shane Baumel – Curious George, Daddy Day Care), and Quillo (Madison Davenport – from television's CSI:NY) are discussing how to go about collecting food for next winter. RJ decides that he is going to use these expert foragers to help him collect what he needs to get in the 7 days. Verne is hesitant, but the other animals hunger wins out. RJ and the gang start looting the houses in the new community over the hedge to get their food. Trouble rears its ugly head in the form of Gladys (Allison Janney – from television's The West Wing), the president of the new community, and Dwayne (Thomas Haden Church – Sideways, George of the Jungle), an exterminator hired by Gladys to get rid of the animals. Things turn out not to be as simple as RJ thought they would be.
-Behind the Hedge: An Insider's Look Behind the Scenes
-Meet the Cast
-The Tech of Over the Hedge
-Animator 101: Learn How to Draw Hammy
-Animal Fun Facts