Mom on Film: Over the Hedge

Mom on Film, Sue Harvey, is the mother of three and a long-standing film fanatic (as a child she wanted to BE Katharine Hepburn, but just didn't have the cheekbones). She'll be sharing her passion for film through her family-friendly movie recommendations.

You know how sometimes you get so bombarded by advertising and previews it feels like you've seen a movie before you've actually seen it? When this is the case, my family usually just waits for the movie in question to come out on video. Last spring Over the Hedge made it's theatrical release after just such a prolonged advertising campaign, but my children's relentless "Mom, Mom, it's out in the theatre now! May we see it in the theatre? Please, please?!?" wore me down. Their begging was so well mannered (and I can hardly resist a well placed "please"), that off we went.

I was a little nervous, not just because the expense of taking a family to the theatre becomes a real financial investment, but also because my husband was joining us. A trip to the movies is not commonplace for us, and Daddy's company made it an even more rare and special event, so I prayed that this would be time and money well spent. Sometimes prayers are answered, and this was one of those times. Not only did the kids and I enjoy it, so did Tom. Within five minutes we were all laughing, and we kept laughing through the credit roll.

Over the Hedge holds an animated mirror up to life in American suburbia, and instead of being depressing, sad, or condemning, it is totally hilarious. The animals learn, courtesy of RJ (a raccoon with an agenda), that although the hedge and everything on the other side of it have disrupted their way of life, they are left with options. From the gleaming silver cans which humans use to dispose of the food they do not wish to eat, to the little girls delivering cookies door to door, this encroachment on their old way of life actually offers an endless variety of opportunities for the animals to live, thrive and survive. It is our good fortune to be able to watch the animals navigate and take advantage of these opportunities. Let me just say that Hammy, the hyperactive squirrel, was my family's favorite character. His love of cookies and his reaction to drinking a can of caffeinated soda still make us laugh whenever they are mentioned.

In addition to having a clever story line and really funny action, this animated movie was also well cast. Bruce Willis, Steve Carell, William Shatner, and Gary Shandling's voices were each a perfect fit for their characters, but not distracting. The stars' names probably drew some viewers into theatres, but their voices were not so recognizable as to constantly remind us of the actors behind the characters' dialogue. Every time Ozzie the opossum "dies," and he does so frequently (dramatically too, I might add), his soliloquies are pure Ozzie. Not until after the movie did I laugh again upon remembering that Ozzie's voice was also that of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). With nary a "yippee-kye-aye" to be heard, RJ was just that, RJ. We were able to forget that it was Bruce Willis behind the fast-talking racoon. And really, when he's good, Bruce Willis is pretty darn good. Personally, I cannot stand to watch Steve Carell in his TV show, The Office. This movie, however, made me appreciate his comedic skills for his vocal portrayal of Hammy the squirrel, and now I look forward to seeing him in Little Miss Sunshine, and anything else in which he appears.

When the credits began to roll at the end of this film (we are one of those families that always sticks around for the credits), both of my daughters asked if we could "please, please, please!" buy this movie when it comes out on video. "We could get it for Daddy for Christmas!" they suggested. That is a "please" I won't have to think twice about agreeing to; Over the Hedge is a movie that is definitely worth the investment.

Watch the Trailer
Sue Harvey