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Over the Hedge

Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min.
Release Date: May 19th, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG
Studio: DreamWorks SKG
Directed by: Tim Johnson
Starring: Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell, Wanda Sykes, William Shatner, Nick Nolte, Thomas Haden Church, Allison Janney, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Avril Lavigne

It would be wise to walk into this film with apprehension as audiences would be better off not seeing Over the Hedge at any given point in time. The all star cast includes Bruce Willis in his voice acting debut and is bound to influence individuals into seeing the possible wonders that lay before them in another CG Animated vehicle. This one, after all, is bound to be good when so many other similar works are failing every direction they can turn. Perhaps this review should cut to the chase and state that this film and its agenda came out unbelievably and horrendously wrong. This is not a fun film aimed at family audiences with a great message bottled inside of high class storytelling, captivating characters, wonderful art, and colorful direction. It is a shame to think that so many people, each with their own individual talents, came together to create such an embarrassing mind trip. It’s haunting how familiar the movie feels. The concept, which is a very hit and miss idea, looked intriguing and worthwhile. Dare it be said: Original. As soon as the lights dim and the film rolls the workmanship is already discovered to be half done. There is something depressing whenever a movie, animated or not, thinks it is smart to open a movie with no character introductions, just jumping straight into an… action bit? This is how the beginning is. The director and writers must think that film-making is designed to be “cut-to-the-chase”. For the sake of the readers time it seemed important to make it clear straight away that this film was found to be unsatisfactory. It is the other way around with actual entertainment as otherwise who would care about what happens to these animals, personified, and shoved into our faces? Hardly anyone. It just isn’t proper film-making.

There are maybe four times that the audience this movie was watched with laughed out-loud. It isn’t funny and to make matters worse the people that did laugh those few and far between times were enjoying the crude immature humor of a car going through the ‘villains‘ roof or at her being fried by lasers made to stop the animals. Many readers may be wondering why that is such a bad thing. Anyone will realize as the movie plays out that despite the person being un-likable it is not altogether honest to the real world and that it is perhaps even a bit sexist. The woman has no characterization to begin with. She is a woman living by herself with a powerful job and lots of money living in suburbia. This apparently makes her a bad person. Not that I condone having such a big house to oneself or the killing of animals. Unconsciously or not, however, the character feels like a stereotypical woman in command. Need further proof? When she complains to the neighbor (a mother with two daughters) about the animals… the one-line response is something along the lines of “I don’t have time for this; my casserole is in the oven.” a phrase thus making her the good person in this story.

Is too much being read into this? Perhaps; despite it being the fault of writers who don’t understand how to create a story with dimensional characters if an underlying opinion like this was not intended for anyone’s interpretation. Audiences are not as dumb as some producers and film-makers obviously think they are.

This is hardly a film that will work as a major crowd pleaser. It would be wise for parents to take their kids to see Pixar’s Cars again (or for the first time) and for adult animation fans to simply stay away and re-watch something from their own collection. With so much wonderful art in this world it is always sad to see something that didn’t even have its heart in it‘s own unbelievable story – allowing it to become nothing more than a failed attempt at spectacle.