Memepunks First Look: Over The Hedge
Memepunks had the chance to screen the new Dreamworks pictures film, Over the Hedge, which opens this Friday. Unfortunately, our press credentials have yet to warrant us entry into a pre-screening of The Da Vinci Code, so we take what we can get.
This latest entry in the animated family film genre is mediocre at best. The plot is easy to follow, but so simplistic it seems thrown together. The story of a loner raccoon, RJ, and his new group of woodland friends. When the friends awake from a nice winter slumber they are confronted with the urban sprawl of the American landscape. A massive housing development has sprung up around them and they are now boxed in by a perfectly manicured hedge. While they try and figure out this new development, our opportunistic raccoon "hero" sees an opportunity to rescue his own hide. Along the way we meet a slew of slightly interesting characters and wacky adventures only CGI creations can have.
William Shatner as the possum. Nothing like watching captain Kirk perform an over dramatic death scene as a furry woodland creature. The comedy side kick of the group, a spastic squirrel named Hamilton (played superbly by Steve Carell) provided most of the slap stick and his shining scene where time stopped as he hyped himself up on a redbull like energy drink and "saved the day" garnered some well earned laughs. Wanda Sikes as the skunk. There isn't a female comedic actress out there right now who can play a more convincing angry disenfranchised character.
Bruce Willis as the raccoon. Combined with the lack luster script, Bruce Willis couldn't provide the subtle nuances needed for a successful voice over role. The slow pace of this movie also brought it down a few notches. The "action" was too sparse and the script too weak to make a good flowing movie. This movie is not Shrek or Toy Story. The subtle adult humor of the Shrek "layers debate" is replaced in this movie with "squirrel nut" jokes to groans instead of laughs. While some of the use of backyard props was cool, overall this movie did an unconvincing job of selling the larger then life world around the animals. CGI just hasn't come far enough to sell the world of the woodland creature. The biggest problem is it tried too hard. Detailed animation of strands of hair on the animals seemed forced, not natural. The beauty of a movie like Toy Story was, they were toys! It was much easier to suspend disbelief when we have no real world examples to go on. And a plastic dinosaur is supposed to look plastic, but a turtle shouldn't look plastic if its supposed to be a real turtle.
The social commentary this movie tosses around with reckless abandon. From American obesity and wasting of our food supplies to our consumer culture to our dependence on modern technology, this movie tries to comment on so much, it becomes a chaotic mess. Over the Hedge is preaching, and at times, what its preaching is sort of scary. There is a sub plot centered around the concept of "family" and it appears the filmmakers were trying to convey that families are not always the same but that they all serve a purpose. The problem is, the "family" in this movie isn't the classic nuclear family, or a single parent family or even the two mommies two daddies type family. This "family" has a very commune type feel. Everyone working for the group, a chosen leader and a new upstart usurper. We have the father and daughter opossums, the nuclear porcupine family, the single and angry female skunk, the weirdo single Squirell, and the often suspect Turtle leader. This kinda stuff would have been great in 1967, when communes and hippie retreats were all the rage, but now its just a little weird.
1 and 1/2 memestars. This movie is not going to be remembered any more then Madagascar or Antz. Another case of too much technology and not enough humanity.