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Heroes of the Zeroes: Over the Hedge

by on August 13, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Over the Hedge”
Rated PG

A computer-animated film high on culture and pop, 2006’s “Over the Hedge’s” bubbly feature-length fizz included soda on a few fronts — as the impetus for 2006’s most laugh-out-loud scene and as part of a cautionary message against gluttony and over-consumption.

In retrospect, a Wal-Mart promotional partnership looked awfully strange, given the sly dialogue’s strong anti-consumerism slant and Ben Folds songs as a lightly cynical complement to the script’s sarcasm.

This prequel to events in the popular comic strip throws together the plots of “Toy Story” and “A Bug’s Life.” Timid turtle Verne (Garry Shandling) teams with raffish raccoon R.J. (Bruce Willis) to pilfer humans’ food for their friends when they awake from hibernation to find a subdivision in their forest.

Co-directed and co-written by Karey Kirkpatrick (the excellent “Chicken Run”), “Hedge” rooted its charms in its wonderfully voiced characters. (Steve Carell’s hyperactive squirrel makes for the best sidekick since “Shrek’s” Donkey.) And its story carried the sort of richness that comes from sharp, caffeinated writing of the Pixar stripe — not an endless barrage of dated references (one Dr. Phil gag aside).

Within several snappy action sequences, a slight screed emerges against today’s every-square-inch mindset. Check out a mom’s calming suggestion to a freaked-out Girl Scout, as well as the film’s bittersweet laughs from an under-attended dog.

Like “The Incredibles,” “Over the Hedge” perhaps aimed more at adults, but not by nearly as wide a margin as there were plenty of family-friendly creature comforts to be found here.