Over The Hedge, Under The Radar
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch
Dreamworks' Over The Hedge opens this weekend, and it may be lost in the rush as crowds flock to "The Da Vinci Code" instead of taking in a fine family flick. Based on the comic strip, which has been running in the Sunday Gazette-Mail lately, all indications are that this is a fun, well-made little cartoon, but it may not be "flashy" enough to compete against summer blockbusters.
Initial reviews are generally positive, but not enthusiastically so. "Over The Hedge" just doesn't seem to be a big summer movie, despite an all-star cast that features Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell and William Shatner, among others. It's an indication of how far computer animation has come that the novelty has worn off. It's not special any longer, and it's going to take more than computer-animated cute little animals to stand out. The ad campaign for this film hasn't been as ubiquitous as those for CGI cartoons usually are. Those ads that have run don't make the film look much different from all the other CGI animal cartoons that are out there. Does anyone remember Disney's "The Wild?"
With Ice Age 2 closing in on 200 million dollars, and Pixar's Cars due out next month, it's possible that "Over The Hedge" could wind up lost in the glut. With the low-budget but heavily marketed Hoodwinked out on DVD this week, this could be a case of really bad timing for Dreamworks.
And that would be a shame. "Over The Hedge" is a sweet little cartoon that acts as sort of an origin story for the comic strip by Michael Fry and T. Lewis. The writers and directors of the movie actually treated the source material with respect, which is rare for adaptations of comic strips or comic books. The designs had to be tweaked somewhat to be translated into 3D modeling, but they really seem to have stayed true to the spirit of the comic strip. Let's hope that "Over The Hedge" doesn't wind up as box-office roadkill.