Over the Hedge far exceeded my expectations. Based on the trailers, I was anticipating a plot-less connection of juvenile skits with sub-par animation. I discovered something far different.

The plot may be simple but it is highly engaging. The humor is abundant and consistently clever. The animation is exceptional. In short, this is the closest any studio has come to duplicating the masterful storytelling of Pixar.

The highlight performance is Steve Carell as Hammy the squirrel. His character is outlandishly hilarious—especially in the climactic sequence. There are many other funny characters and situations, but Hammy steals every scene he’s in. I can’t remember the last movie in which I laughed as hard as I did in this one.

What’s more, Rupert Gregson-Williams’ score is amazingly delightful. The largely orchestral and vocal ensemble fits well with the thematic elements of wild animals and their natural habitat. I’ll be picking up the score CD as soon as I can.

Pixar is still the king of computer animation entertainment, but Dreamworks has done an outstanding job of creating a film that appeals to the entire family. I’ll definitely be taking my niece to see it sometime in the future.

Artistic Merit: 8
Personal Marks: 9