Racoon raconteur RJ (Willis) gets in over his head when he tries to nab a wagonload of food from a bad-tempered bear (Nolte). The hoard gets smashed and RJ has mere days to replace it, so cons a group of innocent woodland creatures into helping him invade the encroaching suburbia.
Pixar and a pea-green troll aside, CG-animated flicks tend to be an interchangeable bunch. There’s invariably a gang of wiseacre animals, a starry cast and a climactic pursuit. Opening between The Wild and Open Season, DreamWorks’ Over The Hedge doesn’t break the trend so much as tick every box, but happily this adaptation of a popular US comic-strip toils harder than most to earn our affection.
Embracing the demented physics of a Tom And Jerry short, the action sees furry varmints bombing around at supersonic speeds, borrowing a turtle’s shell and even rocketing into space. The pace does slow down occasionally to allow for a Toy Story-lite arc about the importance of friendship, but the witty script ensures a stream of gags that hit.
The recording-booth thesps are also well picked. Bruce Willis is a bit bland as the hero racoon and Avril Lavigne’s for the tweenies only, but the rest of the cast bring plenty of personality, in particular Steve Carell as hyperactive squirrel Hammy, stealing as many scenes as nuts.
The CG-’toon formula might be getting as knackered as Droopy, then, but this has enough frenetic fun — and few enough preachy ‘lessons’ — to make it a surprisingly agreeable diversion.
Youll soon be sick of digital furballs, but theres plenty of fun here and Hammy is up there with Ice Ages Scrat in the pantheon of lunatic movie rodents.