The culture-clash antics of The Wild are reprised in a domestic setting in Dreamworks' animation Over the Hedge, which sees a 'family' of woodland creatures unite against the suburban neighbourhood that has encroached upon their patch during hibernation. Amusing set-pieces and an eclectic cast headed by Bruce Willis and Garry Shandling make this adaptation of the popular US comic strip frothy and entertaining, though the lack of a decent plot or memorable characters starts to show around the hour mark.
Waking up to find their natural habitat fenced by a humongous hedge, behind which lies a sprawling and hostile housing development, timorous turtle Verne (Shandling), preening possum Ozzie (William Shatner) and their buddies fear for the future. But help is at hand from RJ (Willis), a fast-talking raccoon who urges them to raid their new neighbours' rubbish bins for discarded junk food.
Under orders to replenish a grumpy bear's larder, however, RJ has an ulterior motive for turning his new pals into scavengers. And without Bill Oddie to save them from Allison Janney's house-proud gorgon, the titular hedge is the least of their worries.
"SLACK-PACED AND REPETITIVE"
Scoring satirical points about America's over-consumption doesn't quite excuse joint directors Tim Johnson (Antz) and Karey Kirkpatrick (writer of Chicken Run) from their film's slack pacing and repetitiveness, while the stunt casting of Avril Lavigne as Shatner's daughter results in the blandest vocal performance since Brad Pitt's in Sinbad. Thank goodness then for Steve Carell's hyperactive squirrel Hammy, easily the funniest and most appealing critter in this particular forest.