Directors: Tim Johnson, Karey Kirkpatrick
Writers (screenplay): Len Blum, Lorne Cameron, David Hoselton, Karey Kirkpatrick
Writers (comic strip characters): Michael Fry, T. Lewis
Writer (additional dialogue): Chris Poche
Running time: 83 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): U
UK Release date: 30th June 2006
Watched on Sky+ Tuesday 8th May 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I first saw this film a few years ago and I remember I quite liked it on first viewing. With is popping up in the TV schedules again recently I thought I’d give it another look to see if it was as Good as I remembered. Unfortunately it hasn’t kept its sparkle from that first viewing, maybe I’ve seen too many better films in between. Having said that there are still a few redeeming features which I’ll tell you about after this brief summary.
Its spring and the animals are waking up all across the forest. Amongst them is Vincent, an evil bear who wakes to find his stash of food being stolen by a street-wise racoon called RJ. An accident leaves the stash destroyed and RJ with an ultimatum; either replace it within a week or be killed. He looks around the area and finds a new suburban estate has been built over the winter. A small patch of the forest remains and here lives a small group of animals; a turtle, Verne, a squirrel, Hammy, A Skunk, Stella, an opossum, Ozzie and his daughter, Heather, and a family of Porcupines, Penny, Lou and their three kids. Can RJ show these woodland creatures the ways of modern life and get them to gather the food he needs in time? Well, there’s a little more to it than that, but I’ll leave it here or the Spoiler Police will be exterminating me (again).
A well made film which is what we’ve come to expect from DreamWorks over the years. One thing that let it down (for me) though was the look chosen for the character RJ… He didn’t look much like a racoon; in fact he looked like a really annoying kid I once knew who I just wanted to punch every time I saw him. All the performances were pretty good, although I must admit I did particularly enjoy the voice talents of William Shatner as Ozzie. Honourable mentions also go to the voice talents of; Bruce Willis as RJ, Garry Shandling as Verne, Steve Carell as Hammy, Wanda Sykes as Stella, Nick Nolte as Vincent, Allison Janney as Gladys and Avril Lavigne as Heather.
There were some decent jokes but I couldn’t help but feel it wasn’t all that original. There were a lot of writers involved in this project and I’m sorry to say it shows. By the end it looked very much like they were running out of ideas. It’s not all bad though, the film does move along a quite a nice pace although it does get a little baggy in the middle. There are some fun characters and even some funny gags here and there… also the traditional ‘homage’s’ to classic films that filmmakers always seem to put in these days. Over all, not great but worth a look.
My score: 5.9/10
IMDb Score: 6.9/10 (based on 60,051 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 67: (Based on 31 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 74/100 (based on 163 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 73/100 (based on 507,343 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Ozzie: O great and powerful Steve! What do you want?
Verne: I-I don't think it can speak.
Debbie: [From other side of hedge] I heard that, young man!
[Others are shocked; Ozzie plays dead]
Debbie: You get over here right now!
Hammy the Squirrel: Okay.
Verne: Hammy, get back here.
Hammy the Squirrel: But Steve is angry.
Verne: I think it came from the other side of Steve - I mean, the bush. I mean... Geez!
Ozzie: Mother, is that you? Beckoning me into the light? Must... move... toward... the light!
Gladys: [after installing a lot of traps] What about this one, this Depelter Turbo?
Dwayne: That's a contraband item, ma'am, as it is illegal in every state,
[with his hand over his heart]
Dwayne: except Texas.
Gladys: I don't care if this violates the Geneva Conventions, I want it.
Dwayne: I thought you might, so I took the liberty of installing it for you.
[as he tosses a stuffed bear in it]
Dwayne: Adios, animal infenstation.
RJ: [it traps it] AHHHHH!
Gladys: [we see it in a cage, with outside burned off] Ohhh, very nice.
Hammy the Squirrel: [Slipping on kitchen floor] No grip! No grip! No grip!...
RJ: Hammy, less claw, more pad.
Hammy the Squirrel: Oh, okay.
[Hammy zips across the room, crashes into wall]
Hammy the Squirrel: That hurt.