Squirrelly suburbia

‘Over the Hedge’ is fun for the whole family

 "Over the Hedge" sent my whole family over the edge with laughter. This animated feature, which opened May 19, follows the adventures of a greedy, self-centered raccoon named RJ (voiced by Bruce Willis), who decides to steal a cave full of food from a bear. When the bear wakes up, RJ accidentally knocks the food off the side of a cliff and into the path of a truck on the highway below. To avoid being clobbered by the bear, RJ promises to replace all the food within a week and heads into suburbia, where he hopes to round up some food fast.

Things get fun when RJ encounters a makeshift family that includes a squirrel, possums, skunks and a turtle. RJ tries to convince them that if they cross the hedge with him into the subdivision next door, they’ll find plenty of food. The family’s leader, Verne the turtle (Garry Shandling), tries to convince his group that RJ is only out for himself, but the others decide to follow the raccoon through the hedge.

Here the adventure begins. The human family that lives on the other side of the hedge hires an exterminator to get rid of the animals that are creeping into their yard. One of the best performances is by Hammy, a manic squirrel voiced by Steve Carrell. His fast voice and silly antics are hilarious.

We also loved RJ’s explanations of suburbia—even my 7-year-old got the humor in RJ’s descriptions of why humans drive cars, order pizza and put food in refrigerators. I was surprised my 12-year-old son, who can be a little more critical of animated flicks, also loved this one and loved that he got some of the jokes that went over his younger sisters’ heads.

In the end, all the characters learn a lot about what makes a family and trusting each other. The message is wonderful, without being preachy. This was a great family film, with nothing scary, just lots of good jokes and good fun.

Liz DeCarlo

Kids Eat Chicago

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