While the need for yet another animal-based CG animated film is debatable, if they're done as well as Over the Hedge, then it's easy to find a reason for its existence. Another success for DreamWorks animation studio, this funny take on suburban life from the perspective of wild critters finds the right balance in its humor to entertain a wide audience. The DVD is on the opposite side of the quality scale.
Beginning its focus on the food-obsessed RJ (Bruce Willis), the story follows a varied band of animals on a quest to ensure they have enough food to survive the winter. RJ's no fear attitude clashes with a passive turtle named Verne (Garry Shandling), the leader of a small but close-knit pack of mammals. This begins a fun romp as the creatures leave their confine that is unsurprisingly on the opposite side of a seven-foot hedge.
From an animal's point of view, humans are nothing more than food disposals. They care only for themselves and their belongings, and this is an idea that is pounded out relentlessly. Based on a comic strip that began in 1995, Over the Hedge is released at the wrong time.
Simply put, this is close to the tenth CG animated movie featuring cute animals in the past couple of years. The genre is tired, and Hedge even sticks in the spastic character to ramp up the list of clichés. That's not a fault of film, script, or actors. It's simply becoming harder to accept each of these films as unique complete with standard and predictable morals for the younger set.
Still, this DreamWorks effort is entertaining. It's wonderfully animated, and character designs are inventive. The script carries enough wit, in-jokes, and action to give the film a consistent pacing. Nothing here feels extraneous or unnecessary.
A nicely rounded all-star cast adds the final piece to recommended this effort. Wanda Sykes and William Shatner hardly sound like a working pair, yet their energy comes through. Over the Hedge is a nicely wound comedy that makes you think just enough about your own habits to make it a decent addition on a movie night.
It's nearly pointless to discuss video on a DVD like this. Pulled from the digital source, there's nothing here that can become damaged or distorted. While running slightly softer than usual for an animated film, finer details are brilliantly captured. Color is stunning. Black levels are consistent. Some slight and unavoidable aliasing mars a few minor shots.
Standard 5.1 audio pushes some tough bass through the LFE channel. Rear channels are used rarely, though effectively. Two separate action sequences use them prominently. The movie is driven by dialogue, which comes through perfectly.
Extras begin the downfall for this DVD, even for the younger crowd. The main featured piece is a four minute short, Hammy's Boomerang Adventure. Mildly amusing, its length and switch in focus at the end make it feel like little more than a trailer. This can also be viewed with commentary as can the full film itself.
A few various behind the scenes features are extended promos aside from one dealing with the technology of the film. Behind the Hedge is the lead feature in this area and follows the basics of the comic before moving into typical making-of fluff. A short promo for the fake extermination company in the film features nothing new on the animation side, yet becomes a mildly amusing parody of TV ads for its one-minute duration.
A brief clip of DreamWorks' upcoming Bee Minor doesn't let the audience in on much. The section of the disc titled "DWK" is filled with material for kids, including uninteresting games, a look at the animals in the film, and a clip on how to draw Hammy. Finally, there's a recap of the Shrek series and the inevitable announcement of the third movie in that franchise.
Over the Hedge comes in with a PG rating from the MPAA. Besides the nearly impossible to read text on the DVD case, they handed it out for rude humor and mild cartoon action. Note that this is definitely a G-rated film all the way through.