I was lucky enough to get tickets to the premiere of the new Dreamworks animated film, "Over the Hedge." It was the kind of movie that my seven year old daughter and I both thought was laugh-out-loud funny. (Unlike movies like this one, where the kids loved it and I was praying for a loss of consciousness).
The movie's sole weakness was the predictability of the plot. TJ, a smooth talking raccoon, has to gather up a wagon load of food to save his skin from a homicidal bear. TJ comes across a friendly but naive family of scavengers (turtle, porcupines, possums and a squirrel), and cons them into helping him collect the food. Of course, he is only setting them up for the inevitable betrayal. Or do you think he will have a "change of heart" when the time comes to actually steal the food? It wasn't hard to figure out how that would go.
Anyway, the voice acting was great. Bruce Willis was TJ, Gary Shandling played Verne the turtle (the only one not completely taken by TJ), and William Shatner had a star turn as Ozzie the possum, trying to convince his daughter Heather (Avril Lavigne) on the virtues of playing dead. And the dialog was even better; it was the kind of movie I will probably have to see again to get the jokes I missed the first time around. The highpoints were TJ's monologue about the humans' obsession with food, an extended "death" scene by Ozzie, and the impact of a can of "jolt cola" on Hammy, the already-way-too hyperactive squirrel. This last might have been the funniest thing I can remember seeing in any movie, anywhere.
Anyway, if you have kids, this is your excuse to simultaneously take in a movie you will thoroughly enjoy and, at the same time, get points for being a "good dad."