I think I’d just seen the best sci-fi movie I’d seen in years, and it’s about talking animals.
Sure, it’s a pean about the excesses of modern suburbia. It’s even a trifle overdone. I could also argue that we don’t “worship” the food enough – we care too little about what and how much we put in our bodies. The potential message of “what will the poor animals do now that we’ve encroached on their habitat” is undermined by how easy it is for the animals to scam food off of the people.
Nevertheless, despite the lack of futuristic gizmos, and the modern, nigh-fairy-tail setting, it’s a SF story at heart, simply in how it’s told. It deals with social change in the face of external, technological progress. The gizmos that JR pulls like a rabbit out of his bag may seem everyday, but work as well as any gadget from the bat-belt. Even the scene where the animals first see the hedge and wonder what it is feels like something straight from 2001 A Space Oddysey. There’s also a scene at the end that most obviously pays homage to the Matrix, but again involves the use of technology and cleverness to overcome obstacles. Several other shots are presented in a way that would be completely at home in a sci-fi movie.
It’s been a while since something so completely “not” Sci-Fi so completely really was. The Truman Show with Jim Carrey is the last such that I remember.
Finally, the casting was perfect. From the previews you can gather that William Shatner is the voice of Papa Possum. You can just imagine…..
What’s amazing is how much better everyone else was. Garry Shandling as the turtle, Nick Nolte as the bear, and Avril Lavigne as the daughter possum were all just brilliant, and breathed life into the characters.
Finally, the storytelling is tight. Rare is it that something comes out of the blue to change the path of the story. For that matter, some things that look like throwaway references and digs at modern life end up becoming crucial.
I highly recommend it.