Pixar, the animation power house behind The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and Toy Story (to name but a few) have always doggedly pursued a good story rather than cruising by on reputation or pretty pictures. Let's hope that when Cars comes out in a few weeks time, Pixar will manage to live up to their previous success.
In the meantime, however, we have DreamWorks' latest effort to consider and I'm pleased to say that it is considerably better than many of their previous efforts. Based on a syndicated comic strip, Over the Hedge is the story of a racoon called RJ (Bruce Willis) who meets up with a group of lovable critters in the middle of suburbia. The other creatures (voiced exceptionally by Steve Carell, William Shatner, Garry Shandling, Eugene Levy and Avril Lavigne) awake from hibernation to find that their beloved woodland (and source of food) has been redeveloped into a housing estate.
Luckily, streetwise RJ is on hand to help the naïve furballs raid the local residences for tasty morsels of food – who needs organic fruit and vegetables when you can have crisps and cookies?
The story is fairly simplistic and definitely playing to its U-rated audience, but it's not too bad by any means, and the characters are very strong and well formed. The cast does an incredible job of bringing the characters to life and much of the humour is so successful purely because of the vocal performances.
Not to be outdone though, the animation in this film is truly superb – it's a real indication of how far the industry has come in the past few years. So, it's quite funny, the story works and it looks great – I don't need much more than that from a film! Definitely a winner for primary school kids.