Con-artist raccoon, RJ, (Bruce Willis) is smooth-talking and charismatic but when he tries to steal a wagonload of food - that rolls down a hillside and gets completely obliterated by a passing truck - from Vincent (Nick Nolte) the local bear no amount of verbal dexterity is going to stop the big bad bear putting RJ on the menu if he doesn’t get all of his food back.
RJ has until the full moon to go shopping and fill up the larder for Vincent otherwise he’ll be in a state of ‘permanent hibernation’. So with a little trickery and flimflam RJ tricks a band of woodland creatures into helping him find the food. Having just woken up from their winter slumber Verne (Garry Shandling) the over-cautious turtle, Hammy (Steve Carell) the hyperactive squirrel, Ozzie (William Shatner) the possum that plays dead at the first sign of trouble and all their friends are surprised to find that half of their woodland home has been replaced by a new housing estate.
Of course with humans nearby the world becomes a far more dangerous place for Verne and his friends, unacquainted with humans and their peculiarities. But RJ tells them “humans live to eat rather than eat to live” and no longer will Verne and his friends have to eat berries and pieces of bark, now that an all you can eat buffet is just a few feet away… over the hedge. So the team of misfit rodents start to steal food from the local houses, cue hyperactive squirrel going completely crazy after microwaving his brain by drinking caffeine, moving so fast he’d make Keanu Reeves jealous, and possums going mad on E numbers and sugar rushes.
The animation is beautiful, Vincent especially looks fantastic. The jokes and physical gags are plentiful and the dialogue is as slick as you would expect whilst still falling short of Shrek territory.
We all know what happens when production companies just get big name stars to voice their animated characters – it doesn’t work (Shark Tale, Hercules). It’s to Bruce Willis and Steve Carell’s credit that you’ll never really feel like you’re actually listening to Bruce Willis or Steve Carell but to a raccoon and a squirrel as they effectively bring their characters to life.
All in all Over The Hedge is fun and the kids will enjoy it.
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