Over the Hedge

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I really like the old Liberty Meadows comic Frank Cho did a few years back. Set at a wildlife sanctuary, the talking animals have all sorts of wild adventures, and there's a romantic subplot between nerdish vet Frank and the totally hot assistant Brandy. Lots of innocent double entendre, slapstick antics, and general good fun. It would make a great movie.

And I said all that to say this: someone should give Frank Cho a few hundred pounds of money, and team him up with the Over the Hedge filmmakers to make it happen.

And Over the Hedge is pretty good too. It took us a while to see it (it was released back in 2006). It concerns an up-to-no-good raccoon (RJ) who's been caught filching a load of food from the local homicidal bear (Vincent). RJ dupes a small army of woodland creatures into raiding the local suburban homes, displacing their putative, sensible, turtle leader (Verne). One obnoxious suburbanite calls in a wacky exterminator. Mayhem results.

Just the voice talent alone is pretty amazing: Bruce Willis, Gary Shandling, Wanda Sykes, Steve Carell, William Shatner (who's particularly hilarious), Nick Nolte, Thomas Haden Church, Allison Janney, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara…

And, yes, this really is the fourth animated movie we watched in a row. I think that's it for the next few months, though…

Oh, wait. Cars 2.

Last Modified 2012-09-26 5:15 AM EDT

When Gravity Fails

[Amazon Link]

Another book I picked up due to its appearance on this io9 list of the "Top 10 Greatest Science Fiction Detective Novels Of All Time". To show you how Out Of It your blogger is, SF-wise: I had never read anything by the late author, George Alec Effinger. This is the first of a trilogy, and I'm not sure if I'll read the rest. I wasn't swept away.

It's set in the near future, when the Muslim world has bypassed the West. The hero, Marîd Audran, lives in the Budayeen, a very seedy city with extremely mean streets. Modifications to both bodies and brains are commonplace: sex changes are seemingly while-you-wait, plug in personality modules and mental enhancers are available over-the-counter. Marîd is relatively straightlaced; his only nod to the sordidness around him is a prodigious pill habit.

The setup is straight out of classic private-eye novels: a mysterious stranger hires Marîd to find a missing relative. Said stranger is immediately shot dead, of course. What's unusual is: he's shot by a guy claiming to be James Bond. Pretty soon more corpses people turn up. The MOs seem different though; are there multiple murderers, or is it just one guy switching between murderous personalities?

It's good fun, but with kind of a down ending. It's also (I thought) somewhat padded. Ceremonial courtesy dialog between Muslims can take a number of paragraphs. That's fine once or twice, but when it happens more than that, you get the feeling the author's reaching to hit his contractually-obligated word count.

Consumer note: the paperback's back cover has a pretty nasty spoilers, revealing plot points that don't crop up until well into the later part of the book.

Last Modified 2012-09-26 5:14 AM EDT