Over the Hedge
Over the Hedge is a 2006 American computer-animated comedy film, based on the characters from the United Media comic strip of the same name. Directed by Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick, and produced by Bonnie Arnold, it was released in the United States on May 19, 2006. The film was produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed through Paramount Pictures.
In Indiana, RJ (Bruce Willis), a raccoon who needs food, accidentally takes food from a hungry bear named Vincent and he wants his food to be found in exactly the same place in a week. He finally finds that an animal family, with a tortoise named Verne (Garry Shandling) as their leader, could help him restore the food from the suburbia, the gateway to the good life. But little does RJ know, there is a woman who has recently hired an exterminator to try to hunt them down.
Why It Gets Over It
- Like most DreamWorks films, not only is the CGI animation outstanding, but it's a HUGE improvement over Shark Tale, one of DreamWorks' films that they produced at their Glendale studio, previous CGI movies that had a rather unfinished look to it (not helped by the uncanny character designs). But here, both the animation and the character designs are great, with impressive visuals that feel like they came from a Pixar film.
- Likable and memorable characters, like Verne (a neurotic box turtle who has a suspicious grudge against RJ, unlike the other animals) and Hammy (a hyperactive and boisterous red squirrel whose mouth moves as fast as his feet and loves cookies.).
- Very well-done music score from Rupert Gregson-Williams.
- Great soundtrack from Ben Folds, especially songs like "Heist", "Still", "Family of Me" and "Rockin' the Suburbs".
- Heartwarming ending where Verne explains to RJ that, had he told them the truth from the beginning, the family would have gladly helped him to repay Vincent and RJ is officially made part of the family.
- Comforting environment and setting of a neighborhood (or a forest depending on which part of the movie you're one).
- Funny and unforgettable moments like Hammy trying to retrieve a cookie that RJ threw away and RJ's monologue about food.
- A good moral where it shows stay in your environment and by the ones who care for you.
- Vincent, Gladys, and Dwayne (the final one especially in spite of providing the least amount of impact on the plot) are entertaining antagonists.
- Unlike other films that dedicate a sizable amount of their runtimes building up before getting to their main plots (or simply focusing on filler in some cases), this film doesn't take a long time to establish it's main story. As the very first event in the movie is RJ trying to steal Vincent's food, only to end up causing it to be ran over by a truck and him making a deal with the bear to find more food in a week. And the rest of the film is dedicated to building on and extending that plotline.
- Awesome voice acting from the cast, especially Garry Shandling, Steve Carell and William Shatner. Their vocal delivery of the lines makes them even funnier.
- It also has a bunch of great cast members, like Bruce Willis as RJ, Gary Shandling as Verne, Steve Carrell as Hammy, Wanda Sykes as Stella, Eugene Levy as Lou, Catherine O'Hara as Penny, William Shatner as Ozzie, and Avril Lavigne as Heather.
- The film surprisingly didn’t put in any product placement. Which is made all the more impressive when you realize that the whole plot of the film revolves around food.
- While the film is mainly a comedy, it also has it's fair share of emotional moments. Like when RJ realizes that his actions caused the other animals to get captured by the verminator and Gladys and the other animals turning their backs on Verne after he insulted them while trying to defend his actions for costing all the food RJ and the gang gathered.
- Exciting plot and character development (the former about RJ and his friends collecting lots of food in one week, in an attempt to feed a bear and the latter of which especially applying to RJ and Verne, who both start off as jerks but they grow to be kinder and more compassionate people as the film goes on).
- Perfect grasp of the source material: It stays true to the comics it’s based on, which makes it very clean for younger kids who have never seen Over the Hedge prior to the film's release. The people involved in the film's production worked very hard to capture the essence of the source material very well.
- The THX Intro gag is really funny, arguably the funniest part of the film, especially for fans of the THX Intro and audio equipment.
- While it does use the "liar revealed" trope (which occurs when RJ gets into a fight with Verne over a can of Spuddies in Gladys' pantry, RJ snaps and angrily and accidentally exposes his ruse to Verne and the others), it's one of those few sources of media that manages to use it well. As unlike other examples that primarily focus on melodrama, this one focuses on regular drama. Fighting with and banishing the liar isn't the focus here, but the aftermath is instead. RJ escapes before the others can berate him for lying to them, and the focus then shifts to them getting captured and regretting having trusted him, while RJ himself regrets having betrayed his only friends and companions.
- Memorable quotes like: We eat to live, this guys live to eat! and "I can't be arrested! I'M PRESIDENT OF THE HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION!!!!".
- Excellent direction from Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick.
- The film relies a little too much on cruelty for comedy (despite it being well executed and excellent).
- To add more to the previous pointer, it can be a bit mean-spirited at times, with RJ's friends treating RJ horribly by throwing him out the window and Ozzie refusing to let RJ in the Verminator's truck and calling him a "ring-tailed charlatan".
- A lot of human characters shown in the film are portrayed as murderous monsters out to kill the animals.
- Though very well-done, the character development is somewhat flawed. For instance, Verne can be a little too grouchy and jealous at times, plus RJ (while not the worst character in the film) can be a little too selfish and scheming to be likable, although he luckily tries to be likable and redeems himself at the end.
- Plot holes:
- When RJ left Vincent to save his friends from the Verminator's Van, the collision with the cart and the van sends Dwayne unconscious and frees the animals from their cages, yet when that happens at the start of the film, nothing happens to the vehicle that crashed into the food.
- At the start of the movie, there appears to be no signs of snow starting to melt, which does appear the next morning when we see Verne awaken from hibernation.
- No explanation was given as to how Vincent was able to find RJ after waking up once the Full Moon had arrived.
- False advertising for two reasons:
- Much of the marketing implies that RJ is predominantly voiced by Bruce Willis. However, RJ is not exactly predominantly voiced by Bruce Willis, as some of his lines are voiced by Jim Carrey, such as "Verne, I told you to unhook the chain".
- For no apparent reason, many of the DVD covers depict Hammy as the main character, albeit in reality, RJ is depicted as the main character in the film itself.
- Some of the jokes are hit and miss such as Stella farts.
- There are a few animal inaccuracies seen in the film where Verne is capable of having his shell be removed, which real life turtles are unable to do due to their shells being part of their skeletons.
- It uses the tiresome "Liar Revealed" cliché.
Over the Hedge was screened out of competition at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. The film's opening weekend grossed $38,457,003 in 4,093 theaters. As of February 25, 2007, the film had earned $335,204,526 worldwide.
Critical reaction of Over the Hedge was mostly positive. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 75% based on 173 reviews, with an average of 6.8/10. The site's consensus states: "Even if it's not an animation classic, Over the Hedge is clever and fun, and the jokes cater to family members of all ages.". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 67 out of 100 based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale. Frank Lovece of Film Journal International found that "DreamWorks' slapstick animated adaptation of the philosophically satiric comic strip ... is a lot of laughs and boasts a much tighter story than most animated features" Ken Fox of TVGuide.com called it a "sly satire of American 'enough is never enough' consumerism and blind progress at the expense of the environment. It's also very funny, and the little woodland critters that make up the cast are a kiddie-pleasing bunch." Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper of Ebert & Roeper gave the film "two thumbs up."
- Vincent the Bear, the main antagonist of this film later appeared as a cameo in the DreamWorks 2007 movie Bee Movie.
- This is the first film by DreamWorks Animation to be produced at their Glendale studio that was distributed worldwide by Paramount Pictures.
- For whatever reason, Jim Carrey was expected to play RJ, but was replaced by Bruce Willis, for one reason: scheduling conflicts. However, some of Carrey's lines for R.J. (for example, "Verne, I told you to unhook the chain!") remained in the film.