Over the Hedge is a 2006 DreamWorks animated comedy film directed by Tim Johnson and voice acted by Bruce Willis among others. It is one of the most underrated films from the company without a doubt.
It follows RJ, a selfish raccoon who tries to steal food from a bear and is caught and has to give it back. In order to do that, he recruits a group of animals to help him. However, they all come to like him and are unaware of his deceiving intentions. Yes, that story sounds familiar. And it is incredibly predictable and seen countless times before. But just this setting and specific situation is not as unoriginal and it gives us a lot of fun adventure and comedy. This is an incredibly entertaining movie that is always engaging and pleasant. I liked its beginning and how it introduces us to the story and its characters and the ending was expected, but sweet. I absolutely loved the chemistry of the group and I liked its humor and heist and action sequences which are surprisingly well executed.
RJ is a very good protagonist. He is a familiar character, but I like how they made him not only selfish but also extremely clever and that lead to many funny moments in his interaction with the group. But overall he gets the most development along with Verne who is the highlight, the most realistic one here. His nervous behavior and caring nature but above all cautious attitude towards RJ contributed to some serious, well handled drama here. Their relationship is the finest.
Hammy the squirrel was very annoying to me. Yes, his childish innocence is sweet but his hyperactive behavior made him unlikable in my opinion. Stella the skunk is really good. She is a stereotype, but still probably the funniest character of the bunch and her scenes with the cat Tiger are quite funny. All of the porcupines are pretty forgettable and underdeveloped, Vincent the bear is a one-note character and the humans are too over-the-top. However, I really liked Gladys Sharp as somewhat of a villain here and the resolution with her and the other humans was very satisfying.
The voice acting is mostly good, but at times weird. I am talking about Bruce Willis. His voice just doesn’t suit this raccoon and I barely got used to it in the end. But he still did a good job, the same as Steve Carell, Wanda Sykes and especially Garry Shandling in the role of Verne. This is still too hip, but there aren’t too many celebrities this time around and they all did a good job.
Over the Hedge has a good animation. However, it is typical and highly forgettable. The character design is really solid and better in my opinion than the animal design in ‘Madagascar‘. The colors are also pleasing and it overall looks good. But the humans are not as good and overall the animation is passable, but there is nothing too remarkable about it. It definitely could have been better.
I disliked its use of music. And I always dislike the choice of music in DreamWorks films. But the humor is really good with at times really well done observant lines. But the choice to make RJ so incredibly smart is a two-edged-sword. It is good for his interaction with the others as it leads to many humorous moments, but it is still bad because it is not only unrealistic but also annoying at times. That was obvious when they started using the humans’ technology in the scenes that were the worst here and that ruined it for me. It was a typical terrain for DreamWorks, but other better companies would do that much better. That just felt stupid in my honest opinion.
Over the Hedgeis weak technically speaking. The directing is solid as is the acting with quite good performances given, but the score is very forgettable and the approach with animals is questionable at times. But it is still better than in some of their earlier films as it retains some of the animals’ inherent qualities. The tone is good as it shifts very well between serious and comedic moments. The humor is mostly solid and I at times laughed quite a bit, but the drama is also handled properly and you can see in those sequences that the character development is really good.
The emotional investment is evident and they thankfully never went into cheesy or maudlin territory, but never into distant or shallow either. They stayed in the middle which I appreciated. The editing is so-so as some scenes, especially action, are overlong and having in mind the movie is very short, it was problematic. But that action overall was really well done and at times quite well animated.
The movie does have a lot of heart and humor, but not much brain or originality. It is endlessly predictable and just familiar on many levels. But the biggest problem it has is definitely its lasting impact which is none. That is probably the reason why it is so underappreciated which is a shame. But it is like that, although the movie is very entertaining and even charming to some degree and a good time to be had, it is still way too forgettable an experience and that is something that the movie just never overcame unfortunately. You forget about it too soon, no matter how good it is. And it is surprisingly good and ranking it among other DreamWorks features, I would say that it is in the middle of the list, not a great movie, but still better than most of their earlier adventure and comedy efforts and better than many movies that came after it.
Over the Hedge has a forgettable animation, somewhat annoying approach at times and the humor can be off-putting, but it is also funny at times, the characters are quite well developed, the action is solid and the overall story, although predictable and familiar, is still very entertaining and at times even endearing to watch with some nice dramatic moments as well. It is definitely an underappreciated DreamWorks movie.