Friday, May 26, 2006

Over the Hedge has nifty voices

I went to see "Over the Hedge" and, I have to say, it is surprisingly good. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but a solid enough bit of entertainment delightfully free of the standard fart jokes and pop-culture references that pass for kids' fare these days. Oh, it has a couple of those things. But not enough to dominate the whole flick.

What really impressed me about this film, though, was the voices.

It was, as are all animated movies these days, chock full of celebrity voices. I'm not a huge fan of the idea that every bit part in a movie has to be played by some huge big time star, especially when there are plenty of lesser known but much better suited professional voice actors out there, but this time, it worked. At first, I was a bit iffy about hearing William Shatner as the voice of the melodramatic opossom Ozzie. There was nothing wrong with him, it just seemed that the IDEA of William Shatner playing a melodramatic opossum was funnier than actually seeing William Shatner play a melodramatic opossum. You know, funny in a referencial sort of way, a "Oh, I get it - Shatner is a drama whore in real life, so it's kinda funny that he plays one as a opossum" kind of way. To actually make the dramatic scenes funny, I thought, you'd need to get a wildly exaggerated, overly pompous voice - someone like the guy that plays Lokar on "Space Ghost." But then I saw Shatner worked. His voice was just distinctive enough to make the character amusing and memorable, and just subtle enough to keep it from getting annoying.

Which brings us to another point: The voice actors were all understated and restrained enough that they didn't get annoying. Not even Wanda Sykes as Stella the skunk, whom I expected to be teeth-gratingly awful with her "OH NO YOU DI'INT I'M A SASSY BLACK WOMAN" schtick. Steve Carrell played a hyperactive squirrel, but his character was used sparingly enough that you don't get sick of him. Probably the only disappointment was Avril Lavene as Heather the opossum. She wasn't bad, but this was a part that could have been played by just about any random teenage girl pulled off the street so I have no clue why they picked her for this.

   - posted by Mike @

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