Open Season Review
By Chris Cabin
There was a time, not too long ago, when there was one great computer-animated film per year, and that was it. Then, seemingly overnight, there were a dozen computer-animated films every year, and every single one of them had to do with an animal trying to find its home. This year is no exception; Over the Hedge, Ice Age: The Meltdown, and The Wild have already been released and there's still at least two more coming out before the end of the year and probably four others that escape my mind. Tacked onto this ever-growing list is Open Season, the latest from The Lion King director Roger Allers.
In a small rural town where camping and hunting are daily parts of life, Boog (Martin Lawrence) has a damn good life...99 for a grizzly bear, that is. He does a show with his friend, park ranger Beth (Debra Messing), and has a nice little bed and three meals a day in her basement. Then one day, Boog frees a deer named Elliot (Ashton Kutcher) from the hood of dumb-as-brick hunter Shaw's (Gary Sinise) truck. Elliot considers this an act of eternal friendship and begins to follow Boog around everywhere, eventually causing Boog to lose his show with Beth. Without a home or means of livelihood, Boog is sent back to the forest with Elliot. Here, Boog must find his inner bear (did I just type that?) and Elliot must find the courage to stand up to head buck Ian (Patrick Warburton). All of this happens while the pair are also trying to find their way back home and attempting to not get killed by Shaw.
Though the beginning of the movie gives off the lovable sheen of a Yogi the Bear cartoon, Open Season quickly gives up quirky lovability for a familiar "no place like home" sentiment and ever-present "be yourself" diatribes. There's nothing specifically more heartwarming or witty here than there was in, say, Monsters, Inc. (where co-director Jill Culton served as visual developer).
That being said, there also is nothing here that sticks out as particularly noxious. The movie has the patented values that one would want from a film like this and most of the characters are overblown enough to warrant heavy chuckles. The problem is that it doesn't offer any depth to make the characters memorable; Boog is no Buzz Lightyear and Elliot is certainly no Woody. However, holding out hope for another Toy Story or (please, Jesus) another The Incredibles might be a little out of sight given the mass production of these films. At this point, the most we can hope for now is an animated film that doesn't concern breaking out of a zoo of some sort.
DVD extras are copious, including deleted scenes, commentary track, featurettes galore, and games for the kids.
That's a whole lotta shootin' to do.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 29th September 2006
Box Office Worldwide: $189.1M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures
Production compaines: Sony Pictures Animation
Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Fresh: 48 Rotten: 52
Cast & Crew
Producer: Michelle Murdocca
Starring: Martin Lawrence as Boog (voice), Ashton Kutcher as Elliot (voice), Gary Sinise as Shaw (voice), Debra Messing as Beth (voice), Billy Connolly as McSquizzy (voice), Georgia Engel as Bobbie (voice), Jon Favreau as Reilly (voice), Jane Krakowski as Giselle (voice), Gordon Tootoosis as Gordy (voice), Patrick Warburton as Ian (voice), Cody Cameron as Mr. Weenie (voice), Nika Futterman as Rosie (voice), Danny Mann as Serge (voice), Jack McGee as Hunter (voice), Michelle Murdocca as Maria (voice), Fergal Reilly as O'Toole (voice), Jackie Harris as Amanda (Voice)