Based on the popular syndicated comic strip by Michael Fry and T Lewis, DreamWorks' big-budget animated feature is a sly satire of American "enough is never enough" consumerism and blind progress at the expense of the environment. It's also very funny, and the little woodland critters that make up the cast are a kiddie-pleasing bunch. The trouble starts when grouchy bear Vincent (voiced by the suitably growly Nick Nolte) is awakened from hibernation a week early to discover that con-man coon RJ (Bruce Willis) has accidentally destroyed his stash of picnic booty while trying to steal it from his cave. In a rage, Vincent gives RJ a week to replace every last crumb of his foodstuffs or RJ himself will become his meal replacement. Knowing that collecting that much food is too much work for one scrawny raccoon, RJ nevertheless heads off to the one place he knows is sure to be filled with every type of junk food imaginable: El Rancho Camelot, an ever-growing suburban sprawl of identical houses that's slowly swallowing a once-expansive woodland. Meanwhile, the original denizens of the ever-shrinking forest — cautious turtle Verne (Garry Shandling); squirrelly squirrel Hammy (Steve Carell); spunky skunk Stella (Wanda Sykes); swooning opossum Ozzie (William Shatner) and his daughter, Heather (Avril Lavigne); and a family of Minnesota-accented porcupines, lead by Penny (Catherine O'Hara) and Lou (Eugene Levy) — awaken from their long winter's nap to discover that their Edenic homeland has been reduced to a tiny green island surrounded by 54 acres of hedges and tract housing. RJ, knowing a ready-made foraging workforce when he sees one, insinuates himself into the group. Over Verne's objections, he convinces the rest of this makeshift family that the only way to ensure that there will be enough food for next winter is to venture over the hedge that separates their shrunken forest from the gleaming new houses where "freaky pink primates" called humans consume vast quantities of food and throw away whatever they can't fit into their "pie holes." His real objective, of course, is to replenish Vincent's food supply before the week's out, but even with this crew the journey into suburbia won't be easy. The draconian head of the neighborhood homeowners association (Allison Janney) has hired an exterminator (Thomas Haden Church) — sorry, verminator — to extinguish every last critter that dares to soil her freshly mopped patio. It's an unusually smart script that thankfully relies more on cultural commentary than pop-culture references (although there are a few) for laughs. The animation is almost photorealistic in its accuracy, and the voice cast is first-rate. The real pleasures, however, are in the wicked details, from the Spam-shaped can of mystery labeled "Dead Meat" to the video game called "Auto Homicide III" to the John Tesh CD that RJ retrieves from someone's trash.
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- Released: 2006
- Rating: PG
- Review: Based on the popular syndicated comic strip by Michael Fry and T Lewis, DreamWorks' big-budget animated feature is a sly satire of American "enough is never enough" consumerism and blind progress at the expense of the environment. It's also very funny, and… (more)