A scheming raccoon (Bruce Willis) fools a group of feisty forest creatures into helping him repay a debt of food, by invading the new suburban sprawl that appeared while they were hibernating.
Bruce Willis (the Die Hard franchise, Sin City) is the voice of a mischievous con-artist raccoon named R.J., and Garry Shandling (TV's The Larry Sanders Show, It's Garry Shandling's Show) voices a timid turtle named Verne.
When R.J., Verne and the rest of their woodland friends find a suburban housing development encroaching on their forest home, Verne's first instinct is to retreat into his shell and leave.
But the ever-opportunistic R.J. sees a treasure trove to be had from his unsuspecting new neighbours.
Together, Verne and R.J. form an unlikely friendship as they learn to co-exist with - and even exploit - this strange new world called suburbia.
Rounding out the voice cast are: Steve Carell (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, TV's The Office) as Hammy, a squirrel; William Shatner (TV's Boston Public, the Miss Congeniality films) as Ozzie, a possum who excels at playing dead; chart-topping recording artist Avril Lavigne as Ozzie's daughter Heather; Nick Nolte as a bear named Vincent; Catherine O'Hara as a porcupine named Penny, paired with Eugene Levy as a fellow porcupine called Lew; comedienne Wanda Sykes as a sassy skunk named Stella; and Omid Djalili (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) as a spoiled housecat named Tiger, who finds unexpected romance with Stella the Skunk.
On the human side, Allison Janney (TV's The West Wing) plays Glady, the President of the local homeowner's association, who isn't about to see her neighbourhood overrun by wildlife; and Thomas Haden Church (Sideways) as Dwayne LaFontaine, aka the Verminator, who has come in to rid the area of our woodland heroes
Over the Hedge is Directed by Tim Johnson (Antz) and Karey Kirkpatrick, (making his directorial debut) and Produced by Bonnie Arnold (Toy Story & Tarzan).
INTERVIEW EXTRACTS (Extract of interview with Director Tim Johnson by Brian Tallerico - Underground Online)
Tim Johnson: Growing up, my backyard was this brush line, beyond which was a field full of porcupines, raccoons, and skunks, and the whole thing. So, I would play in that field all day long for the decade before it became homes.
By the time I was in high school, it was the last field left and even that went away by the time I graduated. So, I feel like there's a bit of autobiography in this, challenging the audience to maybe see the world from the point of view of the animals - who is in whose backyard here?
Tim Johnson: One of my biggest things that I was passionate about was to approach it from the aesthetic of photography rather than painting. Most animated films are designed by painters, that's how you start.
You get brilliant people to do all these paintings that set the tone and colour space of the world. But the aesthetics of painting is an additive one - you start with a blank canvas and fill it up.
The aesthetics that we associate with film is a subtractive one - you start with a world and put a box around it. I always think it's fascinating that what makes photographs beautiful is that it's how a photographer subtracts information.
And so we wanted to apply that to Over the Hedge, so we looked at some really great cinematography - Haskell Wexler, Conrad Hall.
With our picture we wanted it to feel like you really were one of these animals and it was the rest of the world that was huge.
So, using these principles more from live action than animation, I think we made a visual experience that's actually pretty unique. It's not like Shrek or Antz, where everything is in focus all the time.
Tim Johnson: I was excited from the moment we started the film at the possibilities for the video game. We've got a film that's basically a bunch of capers and heists.
If anything in the film, our challenge was to take away from that overly episodic feeling that you can get in a caper film and make sure the film felt like it flowed from one adventure to another. In a video game, that's just perfect - you've got all your little missions that can provide you with a gaming experience.