Over the Hedge combines a unique enough premise with some very strong voice acting to create what is, overall, an excellent film. It’s been heralded as “the greatest animated picture since Shrek,” and while that seem to be a slight bit of an exaggeration, Over The Hedge is definitely a picture worth running out to see, with family in tow.
One of the highlights of this film is the soundtrack, composed and performed by Ben Folds. One has to wonder, after Over the Hedge, Tarzan (Phil Collins), and Curious George (Jack Johnson), if this is the beginning of a trend where popular musicians commandeer a film to create a soundtrack as an independent effort. Given the quality work that’s come out of these two films, let’s hope so. Over The Hedge also has a new version of Ben Folds’ “Rockin’ The Suburbs,” rewritten to be appropriate for kids, but nonetheless socially significant. The song retains enough qualities of the initial version that it will endear the film a bit to the Gen X parents now bringing kids to the film, and it does a beautiful job to reinforce the film’s sly criticisms of bourgeois life.
Ben Folds isn’t the sole musical influence in the film; the voice of the young opossum is none other than Avril Lavigne, who performs her role impressively well and will help the film appeal to the teenage audience that often feels themselves too old for “children’s films.” As the parental porcupines, you’ll find Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, icons of independent film (Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind) and no slouches in either the musical or comedic realms.
In short, this film has something for everyone, whether mainstream or independent, old or young. Add in some truly loveable characters, some characters you love to hate, and a cleverly masked message about the dangers of expanding suburbia and environmental responsibility, and you really do have, all in all, a terrific film. It’s a rare film that can bring the entire family together, but Over the Hedge definitely manages to do just that.