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Over the Hedge

By Kimberly Sielen

 

Release Date: May 19, 2006

MPAA RATING: PG for some rude humor and mild comic action
Voices of: Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell, Wanda Sykes, William Shatner, Nick Nolte, Thomas Haden Church, Avril Lavigne
Genre: Animated comedy

Recommended Age: 8+

 

DreamWorks follows their tradition of hilarious and family-friendly films (Madagascar, Shrek) with Over the Hedge, an animated adventure which can be enjoyed by families with children eight and older.

 

RJ (Bruce Willis) is a raccoon with a big problem.  If, in one week, he does not deliver a mountain of food to Vincent, the bear, he will be eaten.  Luckily, he stumbles upon a ragtag bunch of animals that have just woken up from their winter hibernation.   Led by Verne (Garry Shandling), these friends must start foraging for the next year, but their scavenging grounds have been radically diminished due to a mysterious hedge (which one dubs "Steve").  RJ provides a simple solution to all of their problems: they will cross the hedge and steal food from humans.  Of course, he conveniently fails to mention that everything they steal will go to the bear.

 

Understandably, Verne is wary of this plan.  He wants them to gather nuts and berries, just like they have done for years.  The other side of the hedge is a dangerous place for animals—the suburbanites want nothing to do with wildlife, and will call an exterminator at the first sight of them.  So, when Ozzie (William Shatner) the opossum is spotted after a "mysterious" streak of food robberies, Dwayne, the "Verminator" (Thomas Haden Church), is called.  These friends must think fast, or their lives, and their little piece of land, will be lost forever.

 

Over the Hedge contains some mild offensive content.  There are numerous flatulence jokes, and Hammie the squirrel (Steve Carell) asks various versions of "Have you seen my nuts?" several times.  Many instances of comic action occur, several of which may be frightening for younger children.  The most intense of these include RJ being chased by an angry bear in the finale sequence, which includes animals driving a truck, and an extremely dangerous extermination device -- complete with lasers and a garden gnome statue -- that injures several characters.  Finally, the acts of vandalism committed by the animals when they take food from humans are illegal.  With the exception of Verne, they do not see the harm in it, but later come to understand their mistake.

 

With that said, Over the Hedge contains more positive than negative content.  Characters learn the importance of friendship and loyalty, even in times of peril.  Pre-teens and teens will understand Heather's actions (the teenage opossum voiced by Avril Lavigne) when she has a hard time relating to her father, Ozzie.  Younger viewers will enjoy the banter of the porcupine kids.  Overall, Over the Hedge is an entertaining film which can be enjoyed by families with children eight and up.


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