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Merrick battled a hyper-intelligent, eerily shrewd attack squirrel once. It must certainly have been from some other dimension…

Loathing the current deluge of marginally animated, derivatively conceived, CGI-driven, anthropomorphic (what the hell kind of word is that?) animal movies, I can’t say I’m particularly enthused about this one. THIS TRAILER does little to bolster my enthusiasm.

None the less, John McClane and Captain/Admiral/Captain Kirk in the same movie, in any capacity, is way-too-cool for me to resist.

Here’s Bad Bug with a look at OVER THE HEDGE, fresh from Toronto Sprockets…

I have just recently attended the Toronto Sprockets International Film Festival where they had the first ever screening of the new DreamWorks film “Over the Hedge”. The theatre was full to capacity, when an announcer came up to introduce the film, as well as the director and head animator. They started off with some small talk, and reminded the audience that the film was not completed yet. Mostly just shots that didn’t have any the lighting or hair and fur added yet.

Now I went into this film knowing very little about it except for the internet trailers, and reading a few of the scripts. My impression was it was going to be a lot of bodily emission jokes topped with pop culture reference and product placement that would have a mandatory reenactment of a famous movie scene and pass it off as a joke.

So after seeing the movie what did I think? I was very pleasantly surprised. The film starts off by introducing us to RJ a raccoon voiced by Bruce Willis, trying to get a bag of chips from a broken vending machine with enough gags and character moments to have the audience howling without him saying a word. I was reminded of that squirrel trying to get the acorn with in ice age. RJ’s desperation for food causes him anger a very large and frightening bear, and puts him into a situation where he has to get the bear a year’s supply of food within a week or be eaten himself. RJ can’t gather this food himself in a week, so he goes out looking for some patsies. I have to say it was fun seeing Bruce Willis playing a con man character again.

The movie then introduces us to the woodland creatures who have just come out of hibernation, only to discover that the entire forest they live in has been developed for suburbia, this presents quite a problem since they relied on the forest for there food supply, and now have nothing to gather for the winter. Enter RJ who sees a perfect opportunity to get some free labor to solve his bear problem. He tries to sell woodland animals on the wonders of the human world, and teach them how to hunt for junk food. Some of the more ‘smart’ humor comes from suburbs and some of the jabs the filmmakers take at modern society, nothing preachy, just some good subtle satire at over consumption, mass conformity and need to nature completely. The rest of the jokes in the movie are pure Looney Tunes inspired visual gags. This is an animated film after all, and anything can happen and pretty much anything does in this movie. All the raids into the human world result in some great slapstick, characters are smashed, complex plans go wrong in ways that would make Wild E. Coyote proud, and there is one extreme break from reality near the end that I don’t dare reveal for ruining one of the best jokes I’ve seen in a movie all year.

Of course jokes and a solid story are fine but what about the character? There is no reason to care what happens to them if you don’t emphasize with them right? Lucky all the character come off just right, you get a sense that they are a community that works together, and put up with each other. Verne the Turtle is the straight man of the movie and is a perfect foil for RJ, his character wants to protect everyone, but at the same time is jealous while everyone is having a fun time, and he is left out feeling like a stick in the mud. The Possum’s voiced by William Shatner and Avril Lavigne have some nice father daughter moments, but William Shatner’s over acting the death scenes are hilarious as well as him trying to teach his daughter that playing dead is the best solution when facing danger. Wanda Sykes does a good job playing a skunk who is a little angry at the world that is always afraid of her because of her smell. They have a nice gag with her that is a twist on the old Pepe La Pue Warner Bros. cartoons. Now Steve Carell as Hammy the squirrel is what is going to make this movie for kids and some adults. Hammy is a perfect over the top creation that is full of the nervous energy of the squirrel, but filled with a wide eyed sense of wonder that is infectious. They really have some great moments where his instinct takes over and he acts just like a real squirrel at inopportune times.

Again I have to say I was very pleased leaving the theatre after seeing this movie. I did go in with mild expectations mind you, but I promise you children will love this movie, and adults will get some good belly laughs out of it. The film is worthy of a big screen screening, and worth picking up on DVD for animation buffs.

OVER THE HEDGE scampers into theaters on May 19.

Readers Talkback
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  • April 25, 2006, 10:29 a.m. CST

    Can't be...

    by PietjePuk

    ....that I'm first.

  • April 25, 2006, 10:29 a.m. CST

    But I am!

    by PietjePuk

    First mofo's!

  • April 25, 2006, 10:30 a.m. CST

    I'll watch almost anything with the Shat in it

    by Andy Dufresne

  • April 25, 2006, 10:31 a.m. CST


    by Media Fiend

  • April 25, 2006, 10:31 a.m. CST


    by Media Fiend

  • April 25, 2006, 10:32 a.m. CST

    Seen it

    by slone13

    Not quite Pixar level, but way better than Disney's non-Pixar ventures. Very funny at times. Did a good job of translating the comic strip characters, though most people have never even heard of this strip.

  • April 25, 2006, 10:32 a.m. CST

    But on the subject

    by PietjePuk

    Another CGI-animals movie, do we really need this? I can't wait for 'Cars', at least there are no CGI animals in that one (I hope).

  • April 25, 2006, 10:32 a.m. CST

    The CGI-Funny-Funny-Animal-Movie-Of-The-Month-Club

    by Osmosis Jones

    Honestly, will there be a single month this year WITHOUT one of these movies?

  • April 25, 2006, 10:37 a.m. CST

    Maybe they should rename it ... Over the PLANT

    by chrth

    Couldn't resist.

  • April 25, 2006, 10:49 a.m. CST


    by ROCKER12345

    I once spent a day gardening and added a very nice looking rose bush that wasn't as big of a PLANT as this. Come on, people.

  • April 25, 2006, 10:50 a.m. CST

    Plot outline...

    by brycemonkey

    Madagascar meets Ice Age meets Flushed Away meets Ica Age 2 meets Into The Wild meets... I think you get the idea. Enough already! And on a sidenote PLANT! is the new FIRST! Peace.

  • April 25, 2006, 11:02 a.m. CST

    I wanna see....

    by Spice-Orange

    a CGI movie about office supplies, or grocery food, or junk in a landfill. Im sick of animals, though i remember the comics, so over the hedge could be fun, but lets move onto something new and strange Hollywood. Please? no? oh we have TWO rat movies coming out next year? thanks! *growns.*

  • April 25, 2006, 11:03 a.m. CST

    I'm so sick of these movies...

    by BigTuna

    Talk about beating a dead horse. The CGI animated market is so damn oversaturated right now. They're all the same too.

  • April 25, 2006, 11:08 a.m. CST

    Zero to PLANT!!! in Nine Posts

    by blackwood

    Boy, you guys never fail to shock and awe with your radical finger pointing. Studio animation needs some new ideas - like, let's not make every movie about farting animals.

  • April 25, 2006, 11:23 a.m. CST

    thats a pliggity-plant if i ever read one

    by tripp5

    "Now I went into this film knowing very little about it except for the internet trailers, and reading a few of the scripts." get the fuck out of here, Planty McPlantenton. We're not buying your lies.

  • April 25, 2006, 11:28 a.m. CST

    knowing very little about it

    by ROCKER12345

    Since when is "reading a few scripts" knowing very little about a movie???

  • April 25, 2006, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Only interest in this stems from the comic strip

    by Terry_1978

    That is the only reason I'm considering seeing this, is because I have read the strip for a few years in the chicago tribune. The only commercial that seems to capture the feel of the comics is when Verne and R.J. are launched into the air, and while they're hanging in mid-air, Verne deadpans to R.J., "you're the devil." That part cracked me up, but hopefully that wasn't the only lone clever line.

  • April 25, 2006, 11:38 a.m. CST

    Why a plant?

    by Thorfin

    Why does a cartoon like this need a plant? The audience for animated talking animals is huge already.

  • April 25, 2006, 12:03 p.m. CST

    Freddy the Pig: The Movie

    by Mgmax

    I've been reading the Freddy the Pig books to my kids-- a series of talking-animal-adventure yarns by the guy who wrote Mister Ed-- and if you want to see how by the numbers these celebrity-voiced, wisecrackin' animals movies are, just check out how nicely Walter Brooks develops animal characters, giving each species certain characteristics, imparting "facts" about their species personalities, and coming up with credible plot lines (usually some sort of mystery) for the animals to solve and triumph in. So far ahead of fart jokes and witty comebacks for people like Ray Romano and Queen Latifah to throw at each other. They're great books, Hollywood should buy them and ruin them!

  • April 25, 2006, 12:16 p.m. CST

    Somebody get the potting soil for this Plant

    by Cesman

    "Now I went into this film knowing very little about it except for the internet trailers, and reading a few of the scripts, and directing the film and sleeping with Bruce Willis." Actually I think he meant strips as in the actual comic strips, but since he is a plant and probably has read the script, he just made a freudian slip that give him up as a studio plant.

  • April 25, 2006, 12:16 p.m. CST


    by jsm1978

    I enjoy reading the strip, hoping the movie is closer to the strip than it is to other cgi animal movies. Haven't seen any previews yet, just the Walmart commercials.

  • April 25, 2006, 12:24 p.m. CST

    Am I the only one who hates the term...

    by DerLanghaarige

    "Popcultural referencies"?

  • April 25, 2006, 12:34 p.m. CST

    Where's my STICK IT review!?

    by Borgnine JR

    Bring it On!

  • April 25, 2006, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Pom Poko

    by rxse7en

    The Studio Ghibli movie, Pom Poko (Racoon Wars) has a pretty similar theme with the exception of magical racoon-dog testicles--a.k.a. "pouches" here in the States. I'd love to see a Miyazaki outing done in CGI, hopefully something will happen with Disney/Pixar/Ghibli. B

  • April 25, 2006, 12:39 p.m. CST

    "Popcultural references":

    by Killah_Mate

    The reason why Shrek will be dead, buried and forgotten in about 5-10 years, while our children will still watch Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo. Ditto the entire Dreamworks animated output vs. the entire Pixar catalogue.

  • April 25, 2006, 12:43 p.m. CST

    Are you all retarded?

    by slone13

    Pull your collective heads out of your asses. Do ANY of you have any idea how this industry works? No ones plants reviews about kids movies. It's just not done. Certainly not to Ain't It Cool which is about as far from the studio's target demographic audience for this film as you can possibly get. This film is critic proof anyway and the studio knows it. They are not goin to waste their time concocting a review for a bunch of schmucks who have no interest in this in the first place. You can now go back to debating whether the new Spider-Man picture is fake.

  • April 25, 2006, 12:55 p.m. CST

    "Slone 13" Why the Fuck Are You Here?

    by killdeer2

    ...with us "shmucks" anyway? Just...leave. Read the damn review. It's a fucking Earl "Just show me what to suck and how hard" Dittman piece. Are you that fucking stupid or do you just hate yourself for being like one of us "shmucks"?

  • April 25, 2006, 1:02 p.m. CST

    This reviewer promises me "good belly laughs"?

    by Lance Rock

    whadda plant!

  • April 25, 2006, 1:09 p.m. CST

    "There is no reason to care what happens with them..."

    by Stan the Bat

    "...if you don't EMPHASIZE with them"?! You'd think a text-heavy medium like the Internet would IMPROVE literacy, overall, and yet somehow...

  • April 25, 2006, 1:11 p.m. CST

    "I'd love to see a Miyazaki outing done in CGI"

    by Stan the Bat

    That's kind of like saying you'd love to hear Yo-Yo Ma play something on the tuba.

  • April 25, 2006, 1:29 p.m. CST

    there's only one reason why I hope this film succeeds

    by beamish13

    and that is to finally get the ball rolling on Berkely Breathed's long-in-development-hell OPUS/A WISH FOR WINGS THAT WORK feature film.

  • April 25, 2006, 2:31 p.m. CST

    Critic Proof?

    by Abhimanyu

    I would have thought so too, what with how much money CGI movies like Ice Age 2 and Chicken Little made, but the "flopping" of The Wild gives me hope that there will be a saturation point with run-of-the-mill animalated wisecrackers and things will have to get better. At least I hope so. Who's coming with me?

  • April 25, 2006, 2:41 p.m. CST

    Abhimanyu.. .

    by Zombie Carnifex

    The difference between this film and Wild is my 4 year is pestering me to take him to this but the trailers for Wild left him cold. If you can't get a 4 year excited over an animated talking animals movie then you need a new cutter for your trailers. Hedge may wind up sucking, but the trailer is forcing me to take my kid. I can't wait until he's old enough to go to see films like Silent Hill with me. Maybe when he's six.

  • April 25, 2006, 2:42 p.m. CST

    The Animated films already aren't doing as well...

    by BigTuna

    Sure, Ice Age 2 was a hit, but the Wild is bombing, and the days of a Finding Nemo 300+ domestic gross appear to be over. The novelty has worn off, even the Incredibles, while a hit, did less then expected and that's PIXAR.

  • April 25, 2006, 2:45 p.m. CST

    I like how he said "I didn't know much about the movie"

    by Novaman5000

    "aside from seeing the internet trailers and reading some scripts." Uh, if you read the script, don't you know EVERYTHING about the movie? Just curious.

  • April 25, 2006, 2:56 p.m. CST


    by Spice-Orange

    if you were a PLANT, it would be hard to understand the script or see the trailer- no brain and eyes and all. So this guy didnt know much about the movie going in.... and still doesnt. they should have a movie where all these CGI animals from the last year get together and take over hollywood as revenge for their exploitation. now THAT would be a movie!

  • April 25, 2006, 3:13 p.m. CST

    *yawn* -- and, Merrick, thanks.

    by Flickerhead

    Couldn't be less enthused about this or any other pending CG animation project at the moment. ___ And I hate to be next in line to say this, but I'd like to thank Merrick for bringing a little respectability to the writing on this site. I truly look forward to your posts. What are the odds that Harry would have correctly spelled "dimension," "derivatively," "anthropomorphically," or "movie"? I know it's been said a thousand times, but in an age of spell-check and online grammar references, the founder of a wildly-popular website can't be bothered to write beyond a 7th grade level? As a reader, it's hard not to feel insulted. I mean, for fuck's sake.

  • April 25, 2006, 3:18 p.m. CST


    by Abhimanyu

    Point taken Zombie. I don't understand why something appeals to kids and why something doesn't when all they see is the promo stuff at McDonalds and the mall (and the tv, and the supermarket..) What I mean is, what differentiates this movie (based solely on what's out there for the general public) from The Wild? WE know the difference between Chicken Run and Vaiant, but how does a 4 year old get excited about one and not the other? I hope its innate smartness, but I can't make head or tail of why something is a hit and why it isn't when they look pretty similar (Or I imagine they would) to a little kid. My friend's kid had NO interest in watching the Iron Giant DVD I got him, but loves it now, but also thought Madagascar was better (arrrrgggh)

  • April 25, 2006, 3:25 p.m. CST

    "Yo-Yo Ma"

    by rxse7en

    Nah...I was thinking more like Ansel Adams having to use Photoshop. Though, in the wrong hands you end up with dreck like Hoodwinked, Madagascar, The Wild, Ice Age 2 and so on. I'm just a little puzzled why there are soooo crap CGI flicks coming out when you have such great stories like Miyazaki's. I agree that his cel animation is outstanding in its own right--I would just like to see studios just slow down, spend some time creating quality animation and stop pooping out these half-assed features. B

  • April 25, 2006, 3:31 p.m. CST

    Unfortunately for you, killdeer2...

    by Professor Falcon would seem that slone13 is right on two counts. Studios don't plant reviews for children's films. It is common knowledge. As slone13 noted, NO ONE who frequents Ain't It Cool News is in the studio's target demographic for this film. The children the film is aimed at certainly don't spend time on this site. Nor do their parents. It's really not rocket surhery. And he was right about you being a schmuck, too.

  • April 25, 2006, 3:43 p.m. CST

    And if there is a 6 year old browsing this site

    by Terry_1978

    I don't know whether to be impressed or weep for you.

  • April 25, 2006, 3:45 p.m. CST

    The problem rxse7en, is

    by Zombie Carnifex

    that most executives think animation is just for kids. It is so hard to change US attitudes towards animation. Look at the controversy over Beauty and the Beast. To many Americans animation=cartoons, but hopefully we'll see some changes soon. BTW Abhimanyu my son won't sit through Iron, but he loves Madagascar. I guess I have to keep him, but. . .

  • April 25, 2006, 3:47 p.m. CST

    You need brain "surhery"!

    by Ewokwarrior

    Hey Professor, I can't believe you brought yourself down to Sloppy Slone 13's level. For shame, sir; for shame! I admired you once, now you are nothing to me. Ewok out (and shaking his head disapprovingly). P.S. - Here are my top 4 movies of the moment: 1.) The Game 2.) Last Night's Episode of 24 3.) The Pacifier 4.) Howard Stern

  • April 25, 2006, 4:47 p.m. CST

    garry shandling and bruce willis drop "F-bombs" in this

    by jig98

    2 of them! during the "thx" hd tv scene in the house with the baby possum and the thx theme plays with the possum's pins pinning verne and r.j to the wall. "turn that FUCKING thing off!!". i don't exactly know what the other one is but i hope bruce willis says his favorite die hard quote for all those "die hard" bruce willis fans....ha ha ha ha. get it?

  • April 25, 2006, 5:57 p.m. CST

    easy money for the studios

    by Rupee88

    It looks suitably dumbed-down with some big celebs in will make lots of money just like Shark Tale.

  • April 25, 2006, 5:57 p.m. CST

    Speaking of the comic strip

    by chrth

    I think it's funny that OtH is making fun of Snakes on a Plane this week, when the latter will probably destroy the former in box office receipts.

  • April 25, 2006, 6 p.m. CST

    When will parents stop taking their kids to see this

    by BeeDub

  • April 25, 2006, 6:01 p.m. CST

    Also, I want to apologize for being the first to call

    by chrth

    "PLANT" ... I didn't actually mean it, I was just making a pun because Hedge/Plant, and well, I hope people don't think I believe that this was written by a Plant.

  • April 25, 2006, 6:03 p.m. CST

    We have one demographic to blame: parents

    by BeeDub

    Damn enter key. Anyway, if parents didn't take their kids to see any shit CG movie about talking animals that hits the theaters, we wouldn't have this problem. Parents don't take their kids, the movies don't get made. Plain and simple. Don't want to see more of these movies hit theaters? Don't take your kids. And tell other parents to do the same. Basic economics, folks.

  • April 25, 2006, 6:26 p.m. CST

    Ben Folds

    by Playhouse

    I'm waiting to hear Folds' music for this. Though I'm guessing the redux of Rockin' the Suburbs with Shatner is gonna be pretty funny.

  • April 25, 2006, 7:33 p.m. CST

    William Plantner and Avril Laplante as father/daughter?

    by performingmonkey

    Count me in on this one. But what a fucking plant, one of the most obvious for a while. They're either a plant or someone who's desperate for a positive review for this movie...wait, that's a plant...nevermind... Plant McPlanton who works at the Plant with a Plant on his desk and Plants Plants in his Plant garden whenever his work at the Plant doesn't Plant him too far away from his Plants and his wife who Plants a kiss on his Plant-like cheek before he Plants his Plant-like Plant inside her Plant and she Plants for more and more until she Plants and he Plants all over her huge heaving Plants.

  • April 25, 2006, 8:42 p.m. CST

    There's no money in orginality

    by Terry_1978

    You know it's true.

  • April 25, 2006, 8:52 p.m. CST

    Michael Fry = No-Humor Hack

    by Odkin

    This pisses me off - this no-talent has been wasting valuable funnypage space for years with his unfunny ugly cartoons. Now Disney rewards this prick with a movie? God Bless Bill Watterson. Damn Micheal Fry to hell. Asshole.

  • April 25, 2006, 8:54 p.m. CST

    Why this could still be a plant...

    by Jim Jam Bongs

    Over The Hedge may already have a built-in audience, but the fact that The Wild appears to be a bomb is probably making the studio behind OTH nervous. Kids may actually be tiring of all these CG flicks featuring sassy talking animals voiced by celebrites who are over-inflecting. And their parents, too, having to spend money on these movies -- to them, it may feel like they are spending money on the same movie repeatedly.

  • April 25, 2006, 9:01 p.m. CST

    "Popcultural" references -- blame Katzenberg

    by Jim Jam Bongs

    Jeffrey Katzenberg is the one you can pin the blame for the influx of pop culture references in these movies, which quickly become dated. He's the one who insisted on this kind of "humor" being plugged into the original Shrek, and every other CG movie plot that's not Pixar has copied this style since. I repeat: IT'S ALL JEFFREY KATZENBERG'S FAULT.

  • April 25, 2006, 11:11 p.m. CST

    Over the Hedge is

    by Biowolf

    my favorite comic strip.

  • April 25, 2006, 11:20 p.m. CST


    by Biowolf

    Bill the Cat for President. Opus for Vice President. I love me some Bloom County.....

  • April 26, 2006, 2:26 a.m. CST

    Hedgehogs on a plane

    by CuervoJones

  • April 26, 2006, 1:58 p.m. CST

    Re: Target Demographic.

    by Ray Garraty #47

    "As slone13 noted, NO ONE who frequents Ain't It Cool News is in the studio's target demographic for this film. The children the film is aimed at certainly don't spend time on this site. Nor do their parents." ************************** I am 34 years old and a semi-regular talkbacker and daily reader of the site. I have a 6 year old son and a three year old daughter. Your statement, while well-presented, is false. On another topic, I completely agree that a lot of animated movies are crap: pop-culture references, poor plotting, etc...but is it really that bad to take your kids to a movie once in a while? Some of you talkbackers act like parents should feel guilty every time we see a movie like the Wild because we are apparently abetting a cycle of shitty animated movies. Well,my son is not going to be six forever. What the hell am I supposed to do, take him to see Munich? Or should I rent the beautifully animated but glacially paced Spirited Away and bore him to death? I go see a shitty movie with my son once in a while. It makes him laugh and it gives us a chance to hang out. Sometimes I like the movie (Incredibles), sometimes I hate it (Shark Tale). Some of you guys that get so pissed off about the declining quality of animated films are the same ones who probably went to see Cabin Fever opening weekend. I like the great animated films as much as anyone else. But taking a kid to see a movie like the Wild is just part of being a parent. When I take my kids to Chuck E. Cheese, nobody says, "These places are going to keep putting out greasy, tasteless pizzas and they will never replace the worn out parts of their animatronic animals if you keep giving them your money. Meanwhile, the better dining establishments are going broke."

  • April 26, 2006, 6:45 p.m. CST

    Ray Garraty #47

    by earl of sandwich

    A-MEN brother. Nice to see a parent kicking ass & taking names in defense of children's entertainment. I'm with you. If it makes them laugh or cry or even jump up & down making lazer beam noises, who cares if I hate it? They grow up so fast....sniff.

  • April 27, 2006, 8:06 a.m. CST

    Avril holding a possum...

    by Prof. Pop-Cult

  • April 27, 2006, 10:30 a.m. CST

    3 paragraph, 1 plant

    by BendersShinyAss

  • April 27, 2006, 10:34 a.m. CST

    I just saw Ice Age 2

    by BendersShinyAss

    It was good. Bit shit in a few parts. But a great sequel. It did the Empire strikes back thing. BKnown characters. One HUGE dilema. Damit, I'm going to be an Ice Age 2 plant.

  • April 27, 2006, 3:06 p.m. CST

    What's so crazy about Miyazaki doing a CGI film?

    by minderbinder

    That's almost as silly an idea as that Iron Giant guy doing one...