Over the Hedge: PICK


Humphrey Bogart Signature Collection, Vol. 1: PICK

Content advisory:

Over the Hedge: Mild crude humor; cartoon action and slapstick violence. Okay family viewing. Humphrey Bogart Signature Collection: Menace and stylized violence including gunplay; morally ambiguous elements including romantic complications. Teens and up

When the woodland foragers in Over the Hedge (new this week on DVD) wake up from their long winter’s nap, they discover that they have new neighbors. A suburban development has gone up all around them, and their woodland world has been literally hedged in on all sides.

To the wild creatures, suburbia is a strange and intimidating world of gazing balls and plastic flamingos. But the Hedgies have another new neighbor: RJ the raccoon (Bruce Willis), a glib and sophisticated customer wise in the ways of human beings.

Adapted from the comic strip, Over the Hedge doesn’t seem worried about biting the hand that feeds it. On the other hand, not all large families live in affluent suburbs, drive SUVs, and pressure each other to mow their lawns once a week to keep up property values.

Suburban sprawl and conspicuous consumption may be the favored targets of the secular-progressive left, but — as Crunchy Cons author Rod Dreher has been saying — not all God-fearing conservative traditionalists fit the mold of the stereotyped rock-ribbed Republican who drives the most gas-guzzling vehicle he can afford.

Over the Hedge may satirize suburban foibles, but that doesn’t mean family audiences need to see themselves as the target. Who really likes plastic flamingos, anyway? Despite its subversive theme and a prestigious cast, Over the Hedge is pretty middle-of-the-road entertainment — until the final third, when it kicks into high gear and goes out on a high note. One drawback: the abrasive end-credits theme.

An excellent companion set to the Bogie & Bacall Signature Collection (released earlier this year), the new Humphrey Bogart Signature Collection includes three certified classics and one less essential film, They Drive by Night.

Casablanca, the world’s favorite Hollywood love story, is a classic wartime melodrama that hasn’t lost a thing as time goes by — and is all the more romantic because it doesn’t exalt romantic love above all. Bogie is at his best as Rick, an American opportunist in 1940s’ French Morocco with a gruffly cynical exterior that belies his wary idealism and wounded heart.

Riveting, downbeat and full of surprises, John Huston’s Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a gripping adventure and a smart morality tale about gold, greed, guns and guile. Bogie gives perhaps his finest performance as Dobbs, a down-and-out American in Mexico suffering from a lack of options and moral fiber.

Part of what makes the film so compelling is its avoidance of the obvious or heavy-handed. When we meet Dobbs, he’s neither particularly honorable nor dishonorable and, even as things go downhill, the film has the subtlety to avoid implying that self-interest is always ultimately the bottom line. 

High Sierra was Bogie’s breakout film, a darker counterpoint to Treasure of the Sierra Madre with Bogie as soft-hearted gangster Roy “Mad Dog” Earle. After a prison breakout, Mad Dog plans one last heist but becomes entangled in the lives of a young girl and her grandfather. The last scene is a stunner.