Tag Archives: Over the Hedge movie

Enough is Never Enough

oh160325The title is a line from the Over the Hedge film.  I got some sad news yesterday with the passing of Garry Shandling. Really a comic genius. I got to meet him while doing publicity for the film. When we met he said, “I’m a writer, too!” Always appreciated that.

He will be missed.

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The Return of Sammy

oh150701Long time readers will recall that Hammy and Sammy traded places in the mirror back in ’05 or so. The reason for this was the movie. Although Sammy was the squirrel character in the strip at the time, the first screenwriter Len Blum used Hammy instead. Probably because he was referring to the Hammy from the first year of the strip (and in the first book) who became road kill and was buried in a pizza box. We switched Sammy back to Hammy so we could lay clear claim to the character as coming from our strip (even though we didn’t really have to since Hammy was in the strip, dead but still alive as far as merchandising rights are concerned).

And THAT’S…. more than you wanted to know.


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Roger Ebert’s Review of Over the Hedge

I’ve been meaning to post this for awhile, but it’s just slipped through the cracks.   Below is the generous and kind review of the Over the Hedge film  from a man I admire a great deal.   What’s so flattering is that it appears as though Roger had/has actually read the comic strip and makes an effort to explain the difference between the strip and the film.
I think I’ve made it clear over the years that I like the movie (T likes it too), but the movie is just a part of what the strip is about and it’s geared for a much younger audience.  Roger, unlike the vast majority of reviewers (and movie goers), actually seems to have read the strip and understands the distinction.  Back in 2006 when I found this review online I was hoping against hope that he would compare and contrast the strip and the film  and was overjoyed that he did.
It’s with a great warm glow of a appreciation that I present Roger Ebert’s review.

BY ROGER EBERT / May 19, 2006

“Over the Hedge” is one of the few comic strips in which you will find debates about the Theory of Relativity, population control and global warming. None of those issues are much discussed in the new animated feature inspired by the strip, but there is a great deal about suburban sprawl, junk food and the popularity of the SUV (“How many people does it hold?” “Usually one.”)

The movie opens with the coming of spring and the emergence from hibernation of many forest animals, including some that do not actually hibernate, but never mind. Vincent the bear (voice by Nick Nolte) awakens to find that his entire stash of stolen food has been — stolen! He apprehends the master thief RJ the raccoon (Bruce Willis) and gives him a deadline to return the food, or else. RJ cleverly mobilizes the entire population of the forest to help him in this task (during which he does not quite explain the bear and the deadline). And together they confront an amazing development: During the winter, half of their forest has been replaced by a suburb, and they are separated from it by a gigantic hedge.

That’s the setup for a feature cartoon that is not at the level of “Finding Nemo” or “Shrek,” but is a lot of fun, awfully nice to look at, and filled with energy and smiles. It’s not a movie adults would probably want to attend on their own, but those taking the kids are likely to be amused, and the kids, I think, will like it just fine.

Once again we get an animal population where all the species work together instead of eating each other, and there is even the possibility of interspecies sex, when a human’s house cat falls in love with Stella the skunk (Wanda Sykes). There is also the usual speciesism; mammals and reptiles are first-class citizens, but when a dragonfly gets fried by an insect zapper, not a tear is shed.

These animals once ate leaves and roots and things, but all that has changed since Hammy the squirrel (Steve Carell) discovered nacho chips. The animals find these so delicious, they are the forest equivalent of manna, and RJ, who usurps leadership of the bunch from Verne the turtle (Garry Shandling), is happy to lead them to the promised land of nachos and other junk foods, in the garbage cans and kitchens of humans.

Like all humans who like to live with a view of beautiful forests, the humans in “Over the Hedge” are personally offended that they are occupied by animals. Gladys (Allison Janney), the head of the homeowners’ association, is personally affronted that RJ and his cronies might violate her garbage can, and brings in Dwayne (Thomas Haden Church), a pest control expert known ominously as The Verminator. “I want them exterminated as inhumanely as possible,” she tells him. She’s all heart.

The encroachment of the forest animals and the efforts of the Verminator in “Over the Hedge” don’t approach the wit and genius of a similar situation in the Academy Award-winning “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” (2005), but then how could they? This movie is pitched at a different level. But the action scenes are fun, the characters are well-drawn and voiced, and I thought the film’s visual look was sort of lovely. If the animals lack the lofty thinking of their originals on the comics page, they are nevertheless a notch or two above the I.Q. levels of many an animated creature.

They have to be. It’s a hard life for a forager these days, when you’re caught between an angry bear on one side of the hedge and a street hockey game on the other.

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My Tweets from Over the Hedge Network Premiere

For those of you missed my live tweeting last night you’re in luck!  I’ve obsessively posted them for you here.  At least the less boring ones.

  • Welcome to Live Tweet of Over the Hedge on ABC. Haven’t seen the film in probably four years.
  • Vending machine bit boarded by Jeff Snow added after I asked, “Why does RJ go into the cave?”
  • Jim Carrey originally cast as RJ. My first choice: Bill Murray. Told he was too old.
  • No product placement in Hedge. Smart decision. Would’ve been nightmare negotiations w/ brands.
  • Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy were leads in TV series based on my comic: Committed.
  • Nick Nolte voicing Vincent was inspired casting. Sat behind me at premiere. Didn’t laugh once.
  • Never nuts about bear plot device, but in the end it worked.
  • I liked using Ben Fold’s, but think JK regretted it. No big blow out dance number at end a la Shrek.
  • I think El Rancho Camelot is my sole contribution to the script.
  • First draft script written by Private Parts scribe Len Blum. Not much survived to final.
  • @Vergiejune It was hard to let them go. They were in great hands at DWA. My job was to just stay the hell out their way. I did that well.
  • Told getting Shandling to emote was damn near impossible. Still did great job.
  • Continuity error: Verne reenters Hedge nowhere near where he exited. Yet animals in same spot.
  • Privates a good licking line from Jim Carrey when he voiced RJ.
  • Told Shandling brought in comedy buddies Patton Oswalt, Judd Apatow and others to punch up script.
  • Hedge rights sat at Fox for 5 years before it got to DWA.
  • Willis and Shatner had the thousand yard stare when I met them. Sorta disappointing.
  • This RJ/Hammy rabid squirrrel scene was in the can a couple years before the movie came out. Like they built the film around this scene.
  • When Fox had Hedge rights, JK said, “They’ll never make it, and when they don’t, I will.”
  • Catherine O’Hara sat behind me at premiere and laughed her ass off.
  • Didn’t like Verminator’s character design. Thought a less broad design would be more menacing.
  • Hedge is the most Pixar-ish of all DWA films.
  • Dr. Phil bit is funny and one of few pop culture references in the film. Very un-DWA.
  • Great Looney Toons stuff with the dog. And very much like the strip.
  • “You’re the devil.” Great line. Perfectly delivered.
  • This end Act II RJ decides to help them when he/we know he’ll betray them never worked for me.
  • Wanda Sykes was terrific. Kept reintroducing myself at premiere until she’d had enough, “I KNOW who you are!”
  • “I’m not stupid.” Best line in whole movie. Only line delivered in Carrell’s own voice.
  • Wanda Sykes loved working on Hedge. Told director Tim Johnson first time she had ever been given chance to really act.
  • The Hammy laser pointer bit is brilliant. “But I like the cookie.”
  • RJ’s change of heart feels a tad contrived. Works, but…
  • Yes, faster than light Hammy bit like Hoodwink squirrel. No rip. Scene boarded, animated way before HW released.
  • Hammy light speed scene got HUGE ovation during Canne Film Festival premiere.
And that’s most of the tweets.  The overnight ratings are out and Hedge averaged about 3.8 million viewers and did a 1.2/4 in the 18-49 demo.  Won the time slot in the demo in third half hour. Better than Hairspray the week before and slightly below Shrek the Third two weeks earlier.  In other words it did well, though not spectacularly well. Hope you enjoyed this experiment in social media and self-promotion.   Cheers!


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Live Tweeting Over the Hedge Movie on ABC Tonight

Yes, the dead horse I will not stop beating is making its network premiere on ABC tonight and I’ll be telling you way more than you need to know about how this piece of tasty sausage was made.

Lucky for you, I had little to do with it other than stay the hell out of DreamWorks way.

My purpose this evening is to try to pull a few more viewers so we can prove to Jeffrey Katzenberg that Hedge deserves some more attention.  Like  a TV series, or a film strip, or maybe a few commemorative sporks.

It’s not likely to happen, but you never know.

My Twitter handle is: _MichaelFry.   You can also follow along on my Facebook page.




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Lemon Finger Puppet Theater

Over the Hedge

A lot of hugging going on in Over the Hedge.  I must be getting old and sentimental.

Reminder:  I’m live tweeting the Over the Hedge movie tonight on ABC.  9 EST/PST, 8 CST.  Twitter handle: _MichaelFry

I’ll be answering your questions and commenting on how the movie would have been so much worse if they’d only listened to me.


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Creepy Hedge Merch Fail

Don’t look at me.  I’ve got nothin’ to do with this.

This creepy photo of Over the Hedge movie toothbrush merch made a big splash on failblog.org.

Any pennies I make off these things I’ll happily donate to the victims of inappropriate toothbrush touching.   I promise.

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