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This week:
Over the Hedge

Filthy says:
"A turd, and not even the floating kind."

There's something as slick and shitty as the floor of a Guantanamo cellblock floor about Hollywood making a kids' animated movie about the empty consumerism of the suburbs. Especially when the movie spawns shitty plastic toys and a crappy soundtrack designed to sell to adults. Yeah, there's something stinky, especially when the message is rendered as toothless as the main attraction at a VFW gangbang.

Dreamworks, the official studio of shallow, conspicuously-consuming suburbanites, sets up a premise with Over the Hedge that it's too damn scared to follow through on. It could be the story of a band of wild animals who must fight the suburbs that paved over their wilderness one winter while they hibernated. It could be a sly commentary about the waste and emptiness of a disposable, SUV lifestyle. But it's pretty fucking hard to make a feel-good Kids' Meal Toy for that.

Instead, Over the Hedge starts out with a sly premise and devolves into yet another computer animated movie about cute little creatures fighting a singular, evil, full-grown human. Bruce Willis plays a smart-mouthed raccoon indebted to a homicidal bear. He must replace the huge wagon of junk food he destroyed within a week or be eaten. The movie doesn't explain why the raccoon can't just move away, but let's figure it's because if he took the obvious route there would be no movie.

Willis recruits a band of naive herbivores who live on bark and nuts to help him ransack the new cul de sacs and mini-mansions that sprouted up around them. The grass-eaters include Garry Shandling as a nebbishy turtle, Wanda Sykes as a sassy skunk, Steve Carell as a manic squirrel, William Shatner as an overacting opossum, and Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara as, inexplicably, Minnesotan porcupines. I guess the folks at Dreamworks haven't heard that a Minnesota twang is neither funny nor a good substitute for character. It's just a lilt that unimaginative fucks use to put on when you mention the movie Fargo.

The suburbs, though, aren't the problem. They could be, and should be if Dreamworks had any balls at all. Instead, conflict is a woman so caricaturishly evil that won't cause qualms in all the moms who shuttled their overfed kids to the theaters in Hummers and Tahoes. Even the ones who keep checking their God damned cell phones, dress their babies in Baby Gap and talk shit to their little children in the lobby. She wants the critters destroyed before they ruin her perfect suburb and she hires a en exterminator to help.

All of the little critters are pretty damn familiar and one-dimensional. They have problems that can be easily and neatly resolved. Willis's scheming raccoon has the expected crisis of conscience when the cute little critters discover that he doesn't have them collecting food for themselves. Sykes has low self-esteem and finds love. Shandling's nervous turtle learns to relax and trust other people through the adventure. And Shatner finally earns respect from his hipster daughter played by Avril Lavigne (I thought she was dead, or at the least, buried alive).

Of course, a movie like this can wrap up all the neat, tidy little pieces. What it can't do is deliver on the theme it fakes early on. The poor animals are horrified to discover that the limitless forest they lived in is now a hedged-in park within a sprawling suburb, and it's planned for future development. In the end, though, that horror is forgotten and they're perfectly happy. So, in that way, they are numbed into oblivion by the suburbs, the fast food and the massive vehicles the same way the movie almost, but not quite, proposes that humans are.

There are some amusing moments to the movie, and I probably would have laughed when the overfriendly Rottweiler set off a wild chase, if I weren't so creeped out by the mixed message being presented. Who knows, maybe the fucks who made Over the Hedge don't even realize how responsible for our disposable culture. And maybe the people starring in it aren't being hypocritical assholes when they crack jokes about wasteful giant cars are. I doubt it, though.

It's insidious, you know, the way Over the Hedge pretends to have a soul, but really doesn't. It's far more suburban than wild. In that way, it's like a teenager who buys his rebellion with his allowance, and all the people with glossy lawns, waxed trucks and no hobbies. Two Fingers.

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Pete Hammond of Maxim

Poseidon is "A non-stop action film that doesn't come up for air!"

Over the Hedge "Jumps waaaaay over the top on the laugh meter! Trust us - this movie should be in the 'funny' hall of fame."

Filthy's Reading
Raymond Chandler- Stories and Early Novels

Listening to
Cuspidor - The End Men Sing


Muppet Treasure Island