Remember the days when animated movies were the talk of the town? Classics like Toy Story, Shrek, and Finding Nemo have all had their moments in the spotlight. But what about those hidden gems that somehow slipped through the cracks? We’ve already made our cases for Atlantis and Treasure Planet, but today, we’re diving deep into one of the most underrated animated movies of all time—DreamWorks’ Over the Hedge.
This movie is a rollercoaster of humor, emotion, and social commentary, that is based on the comic strip of the same name, yet it’s often overlooked and forgotten about. So grab some popcorn, because we’re about to explore why this film deserves way more love than it gets.
The Story is a Social Commentary Well Done
Over the Hedge centers around a group of woodland animals who wake up from hibernation to find their habitat surrounded by a massive hedge and a suburban neighborhood on the other side. Led by a smooth-talking raccoon named RJ, they embark on a mission to adapt to this new world and secure food for the winter. It’s a tale that combines adventure, friendship, and the challenges of adapting to a rapidly changing environment.
Over the Hedge tackles complex issues like urbanization and environmental degradation, which might have been too heavy for some viewers. However, these themes are more relevant today than ever, making it a must-watch for modern audiences.
If the story about deforestation and displacing animals doesn’t ring relevant in 2023, then you’re not paying attention to what’s going on in our world right now.
But what makes Over the Hedge stand out while trying to place a spotlight on social issues is that it does so in a subtle way and uses the plot to make its point.
The All-Star Cast
One of the standout features of Over the Hedge is its star-studded cast, which pitted Garry Shandling and Bruce Willis as two completely different characters that had to work together. Bruce Willis (hot off a great run of movies including 16 Blocks, Lucky Number Slevin, and Sin City) lent his voice to RJ, the cunning raccoon who’s always got a plan up his sleeve. Then there’s Garry Shandling, who plays Verne the turtle, the cautious and skeptical counterpart to RJ. Steve Carell (fresh off of seeing success from The Office and Anchorman) brings life to Hammy, the hyperactive squirrel whose love for cookies knows no bounds.
But that’s not all. The cast also includes Wanda Sykes as Stella the skunk, William Shatner as Ozzie the possum, and even pop sensation Avril Lavigne as Heather, Ozzie’s teenage daughter. Hell, even Eugene Levy and Catherine O-Hara were in it as a cutesy porcupine couple. With such a lineup, it’s a wonder why this movie didn’t get more attention.
Direct and Indirect Competition
So why did Over the Hedge not get the recognition it deserved? One reason could be the timing of its release. In 2006, the animation landscape was dominated by other big titles like Cars and Happy Feet. This made it difficult for smaller films to make a significant impact, which at the time, DreamWorks was a smaller firm. In 2006, their direct competition was Disney and Pixar.
Indirectly, the competition was also fierce, especially for movie-going parents. The Da Vinci Code, starring box office dominator Tom Hanks, was released on that day, and Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible III launched a couple of weeks earlier in May 2006.
Still, Over the Hedge grossed almost $340 million at the box office on its $80 million budget, which by any measure of success was a win for DreamWorks. So, what happened to getting a sequel?
Over the Hedge 2: The Cancellation
While Over the Hedge also received its own PS2/Gamecube game, it never actually received the sequel we were originally going to get. Why was the sequel, Over the Hedge 2, canceled? The sequel was announced shortly after the first movie’s release but never saw the light of day. While the exact reasons remain unclear, it’s speculated that changes in management at DreamWorks Animation and a shift in their film strategy led to the project being shelved.
Of course, that new film strategy was somewhat influenced by the disagreements DreamWorks had with United Media, owner of the rights to the franchise.
It was also the case that star Bruce Willis was busy filming other movies and wasn’t able to carve out time to film the movie. So, DreamWorks was likely faced with the decision to recast the main character in the film or just squash the sequel entirely.
The Over the Hedge 2 cancellation left many fans disappointed, as they were eager to see the woodland gang embark on new adventures.
Time to Revisit
Over the Hedge is a hidden gem that deserves a second look. With its all-star cast, compelling storyline, and relevant themes, it’s a movie that has something for everyone. While it may have been overshadowed by other titles at the time of its release, it’s never too late to rediscover this underrated animated classic.
So what are you waiting for? Give Over the Hedge another watch, and you might just find your new favorite animated movie. And if you agree that it’s an underrated masterpiece, don’t forget to share this article and spread the love – or let us know in the comments!