Sunday, June 25, 2006

OVER THE HEDGE - job done but no trimmings

OVER THE HEDGE is a new animated movie that will keep your kids occupied for 90 minutes. It's full of cute animals doing funny stuff. The idea is that there are a bunch of foragers who wake up from hibernating all winter. Instead of waking to the usual lovely field, they are faced with a giant hedge. For, over the winter, that field has been developed into a nice gated community filled with fat Americans who have super-stocked double-barrel fridges. The foragers are nervous of these new inhabitants and reluctant to look for food over the hedge, but they are egged on by a new arrival: super-smoove R.J. R.J. reckons he can outsmart the humans, the Verminator and the neighbourhood cat. What he doesn't tell the other cute animals is that he has an ulterior motive - if he doesn't replace all the food he stole from a mean bear by full moon, he's toast.

The movie is full of all those good moral lessons that you want your kids exposed to. Family is important, and it is better to be selfless than selfish. And like I said, the animals are really cute. But OVER THE HEDGE does nothing more than the basics. The voice cast is for the most part fine. Great comic actors such as
Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara are wasted on limited material. Avril Lavigne has about three lines and was no doubt recruited solely to boost the teen box office. Bruce Willis does his usual smart-ass schtick on autopilot. The only really impressive performances are by William Shatner as a Luvvie Possum and Thomas Haden-Church as the hysterically deluded pest-controller - The Verminator. Oh yes. As usual, Omid Djalili steals every scene he is in as the persian house-cat.

But the biggest let down is that there isn't more humour for the grown-ups. Normally I wouldn't sweat that too much. After all, if the kids are happy then the genre-box is ticked. But somehow, with OVER THE HEDGE, I expected more. That's because the flick is based on a cartoon strip that has real bite. The concept is that a bunch of cute animals look over the hedge at us crazy-ass humans and make biting satirical comments at our expense. Apart from one montage taking the piss out of our chronic food dependency, in this movie, cute wins out over satire.

OVER THE HEDGE was released in the US in May is on release in Australia. It goes on wide release in the UK on June 30th. It hits continental Europe the following weekend.

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