Australian Council on Children and the Media

Over the Hedge

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Short takes

Parental guidance recommended under 8 (Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Over the Hedge
  • a review of Over the Hedge completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 18 June 2006.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes
Children over the age of 8 Should be ok to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Over the Hedge
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Some scenes may frighten young children
Length 84 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

RJ is a racoon who is used to fending for himself, and ‘looks out for number one’. He is really hungry and decides to raid the cave of a hibernating grizzly bear Vincent, who has a large stockpile of everything from cookies to chips. Vincent wakes up as RJ is taking everything and the stash of food is knocked onto the highway below and run over by a car. Vincent is just about to eat RJ but RJ promises to get all the food back and promises to do so within six days.

In the meantime, a gentle group of animals who have just woken up after hibernating. This little group consists of a turtle, skunk, squirrel, hedgehogs and possums. They consider themselves a family. Much to their amazement when they wake up, there is a huge hedge where there used to be forest and on further investigation they find a big suburban development on the other side. This really worries them as they need food for next winter and all the forest has gone.

RJ tricks these animals into getting all the food that he needs so he can pay Vincent back. In doing so, they create so much havoc in the suburban houses that the pest control is called. The animals have to work together, now not only to gather food, but to save their own lives.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Animals in peril.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Vincent the bear threatens to kill RJ the racoon, and he looks very scary when he does so. RJ is also very frightened
  • the exterminator sets up really nasty pet traps, which are very unpleasant when tested.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Vincent’s threat causes RJ to have nightmares which are quite scary.
  • a woman kicks Heather the Possum down the stairs and Father Possum thinks she is dead
  • Squirrel is hit with a book
  • Turtle is both run over and has an esky dropped on him (he gets up both times)
  • the animals are stuck in the hedge, being attacked on one side by the bear and the other by the pest controller and angry house owner.
  • the pest controller and one of the home owners appear to be quite nasty and threatening.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • the animals are caught and put in cages. The house owner is very mean and wants them to suffer when they are killed.
  • there is a particularly bad trap called a ‘peltilator’ that removes the animals’ fur and then puts them in a cage.
  • the bear attacks the racoon when they are trying to escape from the pest control car.
  • when they are in their cages, Heather Possum tells Father Possum she doesn’t want to die.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

There are no scenes that would scare children over the age of eight, though some sensitive children may not like some of the threats to the animals, even though the animals are not real.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

There are no scenes that would scare children of this age group.

Product placement

None

Sexual references

One mild sexual reference in which the skunk flirts with the cat and talks about getting a good man.

Nudity and sexual activity

None

Use of substances

One instance of substance use, in which Squirrel drinks a caffeine drink.

Coarse language

One use of the word ‘butt’.

In a nutshell

Apart from the scenes mentioned, most children will enjoy Over the Hedge. Younger children may not understand the story, but will enjoy the antics of the animals; older children and adolescents will enjoy the humour and the story.
The main messages are the importance of family and of being honest.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • truthfulness
  • honesty
  • loyalty
  • teamwork
  • understanding
  • trust.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of working together as opposed to just looking after yourself, and that deception can have unpleasant consequences.

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