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Let me say up front, I had low expectations going into the film.
Although I like animation a lot, I wasn't too impressed with previous
Dreamworks attempts. I tend to regard cutesy previews with suspicion,
and was mostly just going along to have a potentially positive
movie-going experience with my family. Things got a little worse when
we arrived at the theatre, and both the ticket-tearing guy (if cinemas
have a technical name for that role, I don't know what it is) and some
poor sap from the commissary tried to pressure-sell the "fresh" soda
and popcorn. We had to go out of our way to avoid an extra ad-hoc kiosk
the food vendors established smack in the middle of the lobby. I hope
that doesn't become standard practice. The twenty-odd minutes of
previews were similarly underwhelming, and I was starting to get a
little nervous -- is it going to be one of those days I'll want to
forget? Then, at long last, Over the Hedge starts. Now I'm not an avid
follower of the comic, partly because I don't get to read newspapers
very often. The Over the Hedge strip is kind of a latecoming competitor
to affections reserved for the beloved Bloom County of my childhood, so
I'm not exactly salivating at the potential content. However, I gotta
say, I was blown away from the start.
Over the Hedge is a neat movie. Granted, there are points where plot
development is pure formula, and some of the dialog seems forced or
weakly delivered, but these are minor snits. I was laughing out loud,
along with most of the audience, which was well distributed agewise. I
won't offer any spoilers, but I have to hand it to the screenwriters
for seamlessly integrating action-based slapstick with some very
cunning dialog, dialog that flies fast and furious enough that you'd
better keep both ears wide open.
Messagewise, there are a few worth noting. I have not seen such a
cutting indictment of suburbia since Edward Scissorhands. Some
audiences may find the humor cuts a bit too close to home -- literally.
Human eating habits are intensely scrutinized, for obvious reasons.
Vanity and self-serving hubris are duly repudiated. Plenty of clever
asides will appeal to a wholesome sort of cultural nostalgia, without
ever seeming derivative or repetitive. There are both heartwarming and
chilling references to the importance of family, especially a family
under external pressures from a society that they do not understand, a
culture that considers them vermin. But the messages aren't overplayed,
and mesh well with the rest of this utterly hilarious movie.
There's more, of course, but the bottom line is entertainment, and this
movie did not disappoint. Even the extended slapstick, which I seldom
enjoy in movies, was so outrageous and excessive that it punched
through to my funny bone and had me slapping my knee along with my
family. Oh yeah, my family -- they liked the movie too, they liked it a
lot. Over the Hedge is one of those solid films to which parents can
bring children and everyone has an unreserved good time. That puts it
in some pretty esteemed company -- right up there with Toy Story,
Finding Nemo, A Bug's Life, et al. Highly enjoyable, highly
Tags for Over the Hedge Full Movie
, Garry Shandling
, Steve Carell
, Wanda Sykes
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