What a pleasant surprise! I’m not a kid, so these movies don’t specifically target me. Actually, even when I was a kid, I was much more into grown-up stuff like action flicks and rowdy comedies than into family films. Well, even though it does qualify as a family movie (obviously), “Over the Hedge” also packs non-stop laughs and thrills, with eye-popping visuals, songs by the great Ben Folds and perfectly cast celebrities lending their voices to the instantly adorable characters.

You can get an idea of how this picture would appeal to me so much by going over the voice-over distribution. Bruce Willis is RJ, an action hero raccoon who’s willing to do all kind of Die Hard stunts to get his paws on tasty snacks, Steve Carrell’s Hammy the squirrel is kind of a hyperactive version of Brick in Anchorman, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara bring the chemistry they’ve developed in all those Christopher Guest mockumentaries to a couple of porcupines, Garry Shandling voices a hesitant turtle (is there any other kind? oh yeah, ninjas), Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Wanda Sykes hones her typical no-nonsense attitude as a skunk, William Shatner hilariously overacts as a drama queen possum and guess who’s playing his moody teenage daughter? Avril Lavigne! How could I not love this movie?

The plot revolves around how RJ convinces a bunch of critters from the woods to cross over into the nearby suburbs and steal the humans’ food. On The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert did a bit about how “Over the Hedge” is really a liberal metaphor for the current immigration situation in the US, with the hedge standing for the big wall the Americans want to erect across the Mexican frontier to keep out illegal aliens. There’s sorta kinda something to this, but the movie is mostly about poking fun at the suburban lifestyle. That surprisingly wry satire and the madcap high jinx remind of classic Looney Tunes cartoons (try not to think of Pepe LePew in the bit between the skunk and the cat!), while the gorgeous CG and touching lessons about family and friendship equal that of the best Pixar productions. Additionally, it’s interesting to note that co-director Tim Johnson also made the great Antz and that co-director Karey Kirkpatrick wrote the equally great Chicken Run

“Over the Hedge” is by far the best animated movie of the year so far (I should know, I had to see every single one of them for Voir: “Ice Age – The Meltdown”, “Pollux/Doogal”, “Cars”, “Curious George”, “The Wild”, “Hoodwinked”). Heck, as far as I’m concerned, this is sure to remain one of the most fun films of the summer whatsoever!