PG for some rude humor and mild comic action
May 19, 2006
Comedy, Kids/Family, Animation
(the voices of) Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell, Wanda Sykes, William Shatner, Avril Lavigne, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy
Tim Johnson, Karey Kirkpatrick
In providing movie reviews on our site, CBN.com is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.
Over the Hedge
By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Daily Life Producer
- The delightful characters in DreamWorks new animated film Over the Hedge are as adorably cute as they are entertaining, and the film takes viewers on a heartwarming adventure that is fun for the whole family.
The adventure begins after RJ, a shifty and resourceful raccoon (voiced by Bruce Willis), is caught trying to steal a large stash of junk food from a hibernating bear (Nick Nolte). When the bear wakes up he tells RJ he will eat him unless he returns all of the food that he stole. The bear gives him one week to accomplish this task.
As RJ ponders how he will possibly carry out such a daunting assignment, he stumbles upon the perfect answer – an unsuspecting group of forest dwelling animals. It is here that viewers meet Verne (Garry Shandling), a cautious turtle who has served as the group’s leader; Stella (Wanda Sykes), a spunky skunk; a couple opossums (William Shatner and Avril Lavigne); a family of porcupines, (with mom and dad voiced by Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy); and Hammy, a hyperactive squirrel (Steve Carell).
The community of animals has just awakened from their winter hibernation to find that half of their forest home has been replaced by American suburbia, and they are separated from it by a giant hedge. When they voice their concern about finding enough food for themselves, RJ decides to take advantage of their naïveté and offers to help them find food in the neighboring residential area. Of course, what the animals don’t know is that RJ’s true purpose in “helping” them is to merely use their labors to gather enough food to repay the bear and save his own life.
Their adventures on the other side of the hedge provide the comic crux of the movie. The animals find that living among humans is not only difficult; it can also be quite dangerous. This is especially true once they have to contend with Gladys, an uptight home owner’s association president who has hired Dwayne “the Verminator,” a bloodthirsty -- but not brilliant -- exterminator, to get rid of them.
Their antics provide a comedic observation of humans and their suburban lifestyles. Many scenes explore the tendency of humans in suburban America to accumulate more of everything than they could ever need. As he introduces the forest animals to “the good life” on the other side of the hedge, RJ explains that “for humans, enough is never enough."
The animals rejoice at the amount of food that humans throw away (stored in gleaming silver cans just for them) and marvel at the large SUVs that humans drive. The point about American surplus is driven home as one creature asks, "How many people does it hold?" to which RJ responds, "Usually one."
Although this criticism of America’s middle class does span the entire length of the film, it is a clever and comedic look in the mirror for many of us. In a world where many of us spend as much time in the drive-thru lanes of fast food restaurants as we do in our own living rooms, the film’s commentary on our love-affair with food really hits home.
RJ explains to the wide-eyed animals that humans have huge stores where they get their food, large vehicles to transport the food, enormous rooms in which they store their food, and even people who deliver food directly to their homes. And once the animals get a taste of the nacho cheese chips, crispy potato chips, and chocolate chip cookies, they too become hooked on the delicious taste of human junk food.
The film is rated PG for rude humor and mild comic action, but the incidences of both are minor. Apart from a few instances of potty humor and a couple innuendos, the film is quite family-friendly.
There are plenty of good messages in this movie that parents will applaud, particularly the value that is placed on family, the depiction of how words have the power to hurt people, the power of forgiveness, and the courage it takes to admit when we have done something wrong and take responsibility for our actions.
The film also offers lessons about coveting and stealing. However, it should be noted that the animals are never punished for stealing food from the humans. Instead, viewers are left with the idea that we should all be content with what we already have. Although it is clear that the animals never get to enjoy the goods they stole, parents may have to fill in the gaps for their children about the consequences of stealing other people’s property.
Overall, following the lovable creatures’ adventures over the hedge provides a fun and exciting adventure for children. And while animated films may not always be the ideal movie fare for adults, they too will mostly likely enjoy the trip.
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