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Over The Hedge - Review

Over The Hedge

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary; Hibernating Content – Featurette; Vermtech Infomercial; Behind The Hedge – Featurette; Meet The Cast – Featurette; Tech Of Over The Hedge – Featurette; Galleries; Favourite Scenes; Critter 411; Set Top Game: Backyard Obstacle Course; DVD ROM Printables; DVD ROM Weblinks.

AFTER the critical disappointments of both Shark Tale and Madagascar, Dreamworks return to winning ways with Over The Hedge, a hugely entertaining animated treat for all the family.

Boasting another strong vocal cast (including Bruce Willis, Steve Carell and William Shatner) and two talented directors (Ant‘s Tim Johnson and Chicken Run writer Karey Kirkpatrick), the film is an endlessly inventive rollercoaster ride of fun that easily marks the studio’s finest work since the original Shrek.

RJ (Willis) is a smooth-talking, fleet-footed raccoon who has been given six days to replace the food stash he stole from angry bear Vincent (Nick Nolte).

He subsequently enlists the unwitting support of a tentative turtle, Verne (Garry Shandling) and his woodland friends who have just woken from their winter hibernation to find that a large, green hedge has cropped up right through the middle of their once-natural habitat.

Despite being scared about what lies ‘over the hedge’, Verne and friends are promised a treasure trove of food by the quick-thinking RJ who immediately concocts a plan to raid the dustbins and kitchens of suburbia without realising the danger it will place his new allies in.

As with any children’s film, Over The Hedge contains plenty of messages about the importance of preserving the environment, friendship and family values but it doesn’t layer them on too thick.

Instead, it seems more content to keep people laughing and does so with a number of fantastic set pieces that are truly inspired.

Verne’s first encounter with suburbia, for instance, is wildly inventive and guaranteed to leave the poor little turtle shell-shocked (literally), while the climactic food run is laugh-out loud funny. Both contain canny nods to the likes of Toy Story and Mission: Impossible that are certain to appeal to older film nuts.

The characters, too, are an endearing bunch, expertly making the best use of the talented vocalists behind them.

Willis sounds like he’s having fun as the wise-cracking raccoon, while Nolte’s trademark grisly voice lends extra menace to Vincent the bear. Shandling, too, ensures that Verne remains likeable without ever becoming too preachy or annoying and he’s well supported by William Shatner and Eugene Levy as, respectively, a possum who excels at playing dead and a paternal porcupine.

But it’s Steve Carell’s utterly nutty squirrel, Hammy, who steals the film’s biggest laughs, especially during the film’s set piece finale. He even gives Ice Age’s Scrat a serious run for his money in the hyperactive stakes.

Clocking in at a trim 83 minutes, Over The Hedge is a delightful animated romp that viewers of all ages can enjoy. It may even have those animators at Pixar looking over their shoulders.

Read our interview with Bruce Willis

Certificate: U
Running time: 83 minutes