Originally, RJ had a family of raccoons and had a happy, carefree life until they were killed by an unknown person using a weed hacker.
After losing his parents, RJ was forced to live on his own. Soon, he made wrong choices and became a thief, conman, and briber in order to obtain food for himself to survive.
In the film, RJ is first seen trying to get snacks from a vending machine. When he fails, RJ becomes so desperate that he tries to raid a large food cache belonging to Vincent. While trying to leave, he wakes up Vincent and loses both the food and the red wagon that it is on when a truck runs it over. Angry at RJ for letting this happen, Vincent turns on his former best friend and chases him, stopping him from escaping, then proceeds to grab RJ by his head and open his jaws to swallow him. Scared, RJ begs for mercy and promises to return all of the food, so Vincent decides to give him a week to return the food to him because if he doesn't, he will hunt him down and kill him; he also tells him to not think about running away. Then he mercilessly throws RJ aside and goes back to his cave to sleep for the winter.
Soon, RJ stumbles upon the forest community struggling to find food. RJ, who sees the entire commotion, convinces the other animals that it is easier to raid the humans' garbage for food rather than forage for it. Fortunately, they manage to get enough food to keep them from starving. RJ helps them scale the hedge, though Verne recalls Dwayne.
Worried for his family's safety, Verne decides to return the food to the humans so they will not kill them. After realizing the food is missing, RJ tries to stop him, resulting in an argument between the two. RJ then notices a chain, which connects inside a nearby doghouse. Startled, RJ tells Verne to be quiet and follow him. However, Verne doesn't believe RJ, thinking he is tricking him again. Fed up, Verne tells RJ he doesn't know what he is up to, but his tail is tingling and says he is listening to it this time and putting him foot down. Unfortunately, this attracts Nugent's attention, who chases them across several lawns before the wagon and food is destroyed. RJ blames Verne who, while trying to defend himself, makes a comment that hurts the others' feelings.
Later, RJ helps Verne reconcile with the others. He also discovers that Gladys has just restocked her pantry with a large food supply for an upcoming party and concocts a plan to get past the exterminator-planted traps in her backyard. Working together under cover of darkness, the animals get the food. RJ and Verne get into another argument, this time over a can of "Spuddies" potato chips, during which Verne (and the others) learn of RJ's true motives. Gladys wakes up, discovers the animals in her house, and immediately calls VermTech. The Verminator, whose real name is Dwayne LaFontant, arrives and traps the animals except for RJ, who escapes with the food.
RJ takes the food to a now-awake Vincent (who was on his way to kill RJ), but when the latter points out RJ's treachery, he decides to sacrifice the food to save his best friends. This angers Vincent, who chases RJ as he pursues Dwayne's truck. Verne is happy to see RJ again, but the others no longer trust him since he abandoned them. They nearly thwart RJ's efforts to help before Verne finally convinces them otherwise. The animals then subdue Dwayne and turn his truck toward home, but the truck goes out of control and demolishes Gladys' house.
The animals get out of the truck and hide in the hedge, trapped by Vincent on one side and Gladys and Dwayne on the other. RJ and Verne get an idea to give Hammy a can of cola, which puts him into overdrive. The plan works and Dwayne almost escapes over a fence, but he accidentally steps on a squeaky toy, alerting Nugent and making him bite Dwayne in the leg, making him scream in pain.
Back in the forest, Verne tells RJ that if he had explained what he was trying to do in the first place, the others would have helped (which he claims is what families do) and welcomes him back to the family. Meanwhile, their food supply is refilled.
In a post-credits scene, the animals go to the vending machine seen at the beginning of the film and cause every product to fall into the access bin. However, the amount of snacks prevents the access door from opening.
RJ is a raccoon conman, more or less leading the woodland gang and making various schemes for varied objectives- and just as varied success. His friend Verne often objects to his motives, but is always beaten or otherwise humiliated at some point. When he brought the food to Vincent, he decided to be a better person instead of a thief in order to rescue his friends.
- Originally, RJ was going to be voiced by Bill Murray in the film and later Jim Carrey, but then Bruce Willis got the role.
- RJ sometimes calls Hammy by different variations of his name, such as his full name Hamilton and Hamsquad.
- His mischievous, cunning behavior had made him be a false antagonist of the film, but he was never a true villain as Vincent was.
- In the console version of the video game, there is a mini-game where the player uses their projectile to break objects. If RJ breaks the correct object, he says, "Raccoons and golf. We go together like skunks and frisbees." This references Stella's projectile attack as she uses a disc.