One of the frustrating things about reviewing Dreamworks films is many of their movies come close to being good but can’t quite pull it off. Particularly their comedies often have great casts, promising premises, inviting animation but the jokes fall flat leaving me annoyed. Over the Hedge, made in 2006, is no exception to this rule.
In fact, Over the Hedge is particularly frustrating because it starts out with such potential! I kind of wish it had just been a 30 minute short because that first 30 minutes is great. Unfortunately, it can’t hold that momentum for the 83 minutes run-time and becomes a generic at best kids movie.
The set up is a raccoon named RJ becomes indebted to a bear for stealing his food. To pay the debt he must replace the food in a weeks time. He stumbles upon a bunch of forest creatures waking up from hibernation and begins to school them on the glories of human food consumption. This sequence is the highlight of the movie:
This food glory sequence is funny because it is relevant social commentary. It still makes me laugh how it shows driving and dressing like food. From an alien perspective (or animal) we really do focus way too much on food in America. There’s no doubt about it and that is funny.
However, once this setup is over the rest of Over the Hedge becomes a Toy Story rip-off. Verne the turtle is Woody and RJ is the new hip Buzz. You have a ton of other characters voiced by famous comedians but they aren’t really given anything to do (Plus they repeat the same jokes over and over again). Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell, William Shatner, and Wanda Sykes are all wasted in their roles.
The last act of the movie is the animals trying to steal food from a woman who has a heavily fortified house. Why wouldn’t they just pick another house? It’s a subdivision so they have lots to chose from. It’s clearly just to manufacture tension and a dramatic car chase scene at the end. Instead, it all feels like filling time, like they were stretching 30 minutes of an idea into over an hour, which is probably accurate.
It is very predictable and nothing really engages the viewer. We know RJ is lying to the crew and exactly when he is going to feel bad, be exposed and make up with everyone. Formula movies are fine but there needs to be more to entertain than in this.
As a plus the animation is pretty decent and kids will be moderately entertained by it. It’s not awful but not very memorable either. I would say watch the first 20 minutes and then find something else to do with your day!
Overall Grade- C-