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Over the Hedge—DreamWorks

Video: 4
Audio: 3
Extras: 4

Based on a comic strip by Michael Fry and T. Lewis, Over the Hedge follows a group of critters who, after a long winter’s sleep, wake up to find a housing development in their backyard. Enter RJ, a self-serving raccoon who introduces them to the glory of potato chips, cookies, and other human scraps—and dupes the nave foragers into helping him repay a food debt to an ominous black bear. The film serves up likable characters, some laugh-out-loud moments, and a script that cleverly lampoons humans’ tendency to overdo, well, everything—yet it doesn’t quite possess the allure and enduring charm of a Shrek or Finding Nemo.

Dense forest landscapes and critters of all shapes and fur types reveal how far CG animation has come, and the DVD’s 1.85:1 anamorphic picture beautifully re-creates the many colors and details. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack ably handles dialogue and a catchy score, with the occasional surround and subwoofer effect thrown in, and the extras package has a little something for everyone. The DreamWorks Kids section features a cute animated short called “Hammy’s Boomerang Adventure,” plus a few games, a lesson in drawing Hammy, and fast facts about the different animals in the film. Adults can take in an interesting commentary track by the film’s directors and producer, as well as several short featurettes that break down the production process.

Like the film itself, the DVD package assembles all the right elements in a fairly creative way but doesn’t quite earn a place amongst animation royalty.

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