“Did you know it was based on the comic strip?”

“Really? I thought it was just coincidence.”

“I can’t recommend it.”

“Why?”

So the conversation with my friend went. Not content to leave well enough alone, I received Over the Hedge in the mail from Zip.ca. I thought maybe he was being over-critical, but man, is this movie ever mediocre

The story is the kind of thing you see in every family film for the last 20 years. Right down to the heart-warming message about family. (Where’s the projectile vomiting icon?) The comic strip is kind of sassy and sarcastic with some trippy commentary on modern life. The movie was… um… CGI.

The Raccoon, RJ, is the highlight of the comic strip providing most of the wry one-liners. Here, he’s just Bruce Willis reading a script. Reading the original strip again, I can see why Bruce Willis would come to mind, but he’s too famous to do voice acting now. You can’t help but point at the screen jumping up and down and screaming: “That’s not a cartoon raccoon, that’s Bruce Willis!” (What? I’m the only one??)

The other characters were “we have some guest stars in mind, let’s come up with characters that fit their shtick.” So for example, Wanda Sykes as Stella the Skunk was no different than her stage performance. William Shatner as the over-acting opossum with copious reference to Shatner’s reputation as an actor. Getting the picture yet? This movie is a bunch of celebrity cameos with their actor’s usual character wrapped around them.

The story itself was dull and very, very predictable. Con man takes advantage of innocent community. One wise character is skeptical, but the con man humiliates and undermines him (this is called a Cassandra character). Con man leads the community into disaster and makes away with his spoils only to feel guilty about leaving everyone in the lurch. Con man makes ammends and saves the day. Oh wait, I’m describing The Music Man! No, I was wrong, I’m still describing Over the Hedge.

The only highlight in this dull film is a couple of climactic sequences: a chase scene and the rescue scene. I admit I laughed during the chase scene, but then again, that’s the only part of the movie that really feels like the original comic strip. The rest of the movie feels like it was Story Departmented into nothingness.

I’d say watch something else. It’s not really worth the time and effort.

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