Over The Hedge (2006)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Over The Hedge</strong> (2006)

(In theaters, May 2006) Kids, computer animation and suburban animals: three things that go well together. It helps that PDI/Dreamworks have been improving their non-Shrek movies since A Shark’s Tale and the underwhelming Madagascar. Learning from earlier mistakes, Over The Hedge is almost free of pop-culture references and feels fresher for concentrating on the character comedy between a bunch of newly-suburbanized animals. The voice talent errs toward celebrity stunt-casting, but those actually fit: hearing William Shatner over-emote death sequences over and over again is such a natural match that it’s a wonder it hasn’t been done before. (Although considering Shatner’s long self-deprecating streak, it just may have been.) Still, the movie belongs to Steve Carrell’s “Hammy” as a hyperkinetic squirrel who would be unimaginable without the wonders of modern computer animation. The film’s most memorable scene features the world from his point of view and it a sustained thirty seconds of payoffs on various gags set up earlier in the film. The technical aspects of the animation are excellent (So much hair!) and the creative direction certainly helps: During its most inspired moments, Over The Hedge has a classic Warner Brothers feel. Unfortunately, not all of the film is like that, and it so happens that the movie occasionally skips a beat for thirty seconds, in a drawn-out effort to teach kids the Family Is Important. But, hey, it is a kid’s film: I suppose we should be lucky that it’s accessible to adults.

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