Review Date: May 22, 2006
Director: Tim Johnson, Karey Kirkpatrick
Writer: Len Blum
Producers: Bonnie Arnold
Bruce Willis as RJ
Garry Shandling as Verne
Steve Carell as Hammy
This film “does its job” but not much more than that. It fulfills all of the required elements needed to populate any animated kid’s movie these days, including a gaggle of quirky characters, one or two bad guys, a few action sequences to pep things up, a “message” for the kids and ultimately, a few laughs, a few emotional moments and my favorite part of all…a short runtime. I say “favorite” because unlike movies like THE INCREDIBLES, SHREK or TOY STORY, this film doesn’t really pack all that much juice for the “older kids” such as myself and all of the other movie-nerds around the world who still enjoy the animation, but aren’t into animal fart jokes as much. The aforementioned movies also jammed a few adult ribs in there, along with fun homages and a handful of laugh-out loud moments for all. This film didn’t really have much of that, although the “Stella!!” line was pretty funny, and the nod to SILENCE OF THE LAMBS was cute, I guess (and the montage of what humans do for/with food was clever). But overall, it’s basically a “kid’s movie” and like I said earlier, for what it’s going for…it works and it’s sure to delight many a kid, especially with all of its lead characters developed pretty nicely.
That said, it was hard for me to get past Bruce Willis’ voice during the film’s first half hour or so, but after a while, they all blended nicely, with Willis’ character coming through as the rogue to start things off, and Garry Shandling also perfectly cast as the cautious turtle. Wanda Sykes can likely steal any animated movie with that voice of hers, and does a great job here as the skunketty-skunk. The real life people in the film were a little lame and one-dimensional, but obviously the filmmakers weren’t going for that, and concentrated instead on the possum family (Shatner was fun), the FARGO-esque porcupines and my favorite of all, the 100MPH squirrel, once again, voice-cast nicely with Steve Carell. I also don’t think you could have found a more ideal voice for the bear in this film than Nick Nolte, who gruffs his way through an easy bad guy part. All in all though, there weren’t many memorable moments in the film, but some of the emotional stuff worked in the end, the CGI was sharp and I’m sure kids will have a blast watching this one over and over again, with a nice mix of chuckles and adventures all around. I was also pretty impressed with how no product placement was utilized in the movie, despite much of it featuring junk food items found in everyone’s homes. Wow.