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Saturday, May 20, 2006

The wife and I go OVER THE HEDGE

Earlier this afternoon Lisa and I went to see Over The Hedge at the Brassfield here in Greensboro. It's a darned good cute smart lil' movie! I've been looking forward to this for awhile, being a longtime fan of the "Over The Hedge" comic strip by Michael Fry and T Lewis. The strip is about a group of forest-dwelling animals living on the edge of suburbia, where they make wry commentary and snide comments about the inanity and over-gluttony of us humans while wrecking havoc with the very things we buy and consume, like TV and fast food and lawn ornaments.

And the movie did a pretty good job of capturing the spirit of the original cartoon, I thought. It seems to be like an "origin story" almost for how this group of critters first comes together. We see R.J. the raccoon (voiced by Bruce Willis) have his first meeting with soon-to-be best bud Vern, a turtle (Garry Shandling). Central to the plot is R.J. having to replace all the pillaged food that he stole from the den of Vincent, a bear who's promised to find and kill R.J. if the 'coon hasn't restored Vincent's stash in one week (Vincent, by the way, is voiced - somewhat appropriately enough - by Nick Nolte). The movie ignores a few characters from the strip (like R.J. and Vern's girlfriends, the woodtick etc.) but introduces some newer ones that are part of Vern's "family": William Shatner and Avril Lavigne star as father-and-daughter possums, Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy appear as the head of a porcupine family, and Wanda Sykes makes for more than a few outrageous moments as Stella, a skunk. The real scene-stealer has got to be Hammy the Squirrel (one of the comic's regulars), the most manic animated character I've seen in a good long time, played by Steve Carrell.

Well, we laughed a lot during Over The Hedge and the kids around us had a good time with it, even during the gags that were obviously intended for the "grown-ups" to catch onto (there's one hilarious reference to A Streetcar Named Desire that readily comes to mind). Definitely worth catching at the theater or later on DVD. If you need any more reason to go see Over The Hedge, it's that it features a much more realistic "treasure hunt" than that other movie opening this weekend has in it :-P