Sony Animation got off the ground with a sputter in my estimation as I truly hated Monster House. I was bored to tears with that movie, but thankfully they have righted the ship a bit with Open Season. This is not the best animated film of 2006, but it is a satisfying escape from reality and a good way to busy the kids for almost two hours.
We begin with an introduction to Boog (Martin Lawrence), a dramatically domesticated grizzly bear that has his own stuffed teddy bear and sleeps in his bed in park ranger Beth’s (Debra Messing) garage. His life consists of fish shaped crackers and tricks for the tourists, but that is all about to change once he meets Elliot (Ashton Kutcher), a fast-talking, trouble-making deer that has just met the front end of a moving vehicle.
You see Elliot was recently run over by the menacing hunter Shaw (Gary Sinise) and strapped to the hood of his truck. In town Boog is relaxing after a show and waiting for Beth to return when he notices Elliot and realizes he isn’t exactly dead. He helps the helpless buck-to-be to freedom, a move that will ultimately turn his world upside down.
From that point on, Elliot gets Boog in a series of mishaps that ultimately result in him being sent back to the wild, a place where he simply doesn’t know how to exist. However, once hunting season rolls around he has no choice but to make friends with the wildlife and adapt. All in an effort to stay alive
Open Season‘s charm is in its wildlife. There is McSquizzy voiced by Billy Connolly, the leader of the squirrels who, along with his gang, will protect his trees from any intruder. Next is Ian, the proud buck voiced by Patrick Warburton who provides the perfect mixture of comedy and veracity to a character that is just as tough as he is a wuss. However, the best comedy moments come from the rabbits who are either used in place of pebbles to be thrown against a window in an effort to get someone’s attention or as snowballs in a highly comical “rabbit fight”. Unfortunately the comic relief is limited to a few scenes and there is only enough adventure in this 99 minute feature to just keep you interested, and this seems to be the fault of most animated films these days.
Back in the days of Aladdin, The Lion King and Toy Story adventure was the name of the game, but now days there seems to be this overwhelming urge to make everything funny before making it exciting. Old school animated films used comedy inside of scenes that moved the story along whereas animated films now seem to stop for a scene to provide comic relief and then get back to the story. It is only in the final moments of the latest animated films that they really seem to get things moving.
Also, it seems to be the current trend of casting big names in the lead roles and that is supposed to help audiences get excited for a film? As lead voices, Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher are satisfying as Boog and Elliot respectively, but the real entertainment comes from the supporting cast of wildlife as they give you reason to look forward to the next scene. Comparatively, in celebrity stature, Lawrence and Kutcher have the rest of these guys beat. Even Debra Messing can’t play the “Will & Grace” card as that show has run its course. Luckily celebrity doesn’t matter when all it is is voices; it isn’t like we are talking Robin Williams here although Connolly is great as that squirrel.
Open Season is by no means a bad movie, it is still just another animated feature on the cusp of remembering what used to make animation so much fun to watch. Bring the adventure back and the money will flow like wine or Kool-Aid depending on how old you are. Hey kiddos!