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   Movie Reviews: Over The Hedge
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Studio:
     DreamWorks
Plot:
     A group of forest creatures try to resist the temptation of suburban life.
Cast:
     Bruce Willis, Wanda Sykes, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell, William Shatner, Allison Janney, Eugene Levy
Rating:
     PG
Bottom Line:
     ***1/2

Coverage:
by
Samantha Ofole-Prince


Bruce Willis, Wanda Sykes, Garry Shandling and William Shatner voice a group of woodland friends who awaken from a long winter’s nap only to discover that a large green hedge has cropped up through the middle of their once-natural habitat and across this hedge is suburbia. Fifty-four acres of paradise has been replaced with new homes and half of their forest is gone. Enter RJ (voiced by Willis) a charming, self centered small time scavenger who coaxes them to explore the world beyond the hedge. Coining it as a "gateway to the good life," the furry creatures are coerced into exploring the other side of suburbia to glimpse the strangest animals on the face of the Earth, human beings.

Raccoons, squirrels, turtles, porcupines, possums, bears, humans and a skunk all make up an adorable range of characters in this sizzling animated flick which combines humor with a racy storyline. There’s Ozzie, a possum (Shatner) who excels at playing dead with a melodramatic flair, an indulgent and talkative housecat named Tiger (Omid Djalili), a hyperactive squirrel named Hammy (Carell), an overly practical turtle called Verne (Shandling), Stella the sassy skunk (Sykes) and an evil and cantankerous bear called Vincent (Nolte). On the human side of the hedge is Gladys (Janney), the president of the homeowners association who detests the furry creatures, and the despicable Verminator (voiced by Thomas Haden Church) who she hires to rid the area of the ‘vermin infestation’. Unbeknown to the others, the opportunistic RJ has an ulterior motive when he initially convinces these woodland creatures to explore suburbia life and his candid digression about human fallacies is highly amusing. "We eat to live. They live to eat. For humans," he chants, "Enough is never enough."

Sykes as a skunk brings her acerbic humor to the movie screen in her debut animated project and claims she jumped at the opportunity to join the cast of this movie. "I haven’t really done anything for the kids so it’s nice to be part of something you can bring the whole kids to. This was three years ago when I got a call from DreamWorks and this was after ‘Pootie Tang’ so I am like, wow, I still have a career and when I went for the meeting and they pitched the story I was just all aboard." Other amusing quotes include Stella’s verbatim to another farmyard animal, "I’ma going to gas you so bad your grandkids are gonna stink!" A statement Sykes states was part of the script despite her brash and candid comedic routines. "I do and did a lot of improv, but then as it got close to getting the animation done they pretty much had to stick to – or at least give some variation of what was on the page, but we did get to play around a lot at first."

With brilliant observational humor told from an animal’s point of view, "Over the Hedge" is based on a popular comic strip and joins a short list of delightfully cute family oriented flicks which offer a refreshing humor with a satirical slant.

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