Open Season (2006) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Cast (voices of): Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kuchter, Debra Messing, Billy Connolly

Directors: Roger Allers; Jill Culton; Anthony Stacchi

Nestling in a valley surrounded by mountainous terrain and dense forests, Timberline, usually a sleepy town, is the setting for Sony Pictures first feature-length animated movie OPEN SEASON. Referring to the open ‘hunting’ season, which is fast approaching and only three days away, it’s also home to Boog (Martin Lawrence) a 900-pound, contented, humanized bear – that’s one whole lot of grizzly! Raised from a cub by Park Ranger Beth (Debra Messing) he lives a life of 5-star, full board, en-suite luxury in Beth’s garage complete with, yep you’ve guessed it, his own personal toilet complete with toilet paper if you please! Boog happily performs in Beth’s daily nature show until his world is turned upside down when he crosses paths with Elliot (Ashton Kutcher) a ragged, fast-talking, wild mule deer.

Minus an antler and tied to the truck of the town’s darkest, meanest character, Elliot pleads with Boog to help him escape the clutches of hunter Shaw (Gary Sinise) who’s too impatient to wait for open season to start. Boog lazily extends a claw and slices the rope restraining Elliot, not expecting to see him again. Elliot though has other plans and follows Boog home. When he sees Boog being shut into Beth’s garage for the night he embarks on a mission to free his new buddy from captivity – and leads him into a whole lot of trouble! Isn’t it just typical that the fast-talker causes not only the most noise but also dissension? Boog becomes naively entangled in Elliot’s antics and the both of them end up tranquilized and awaken to forest sounds far away from Timberline as open season dawns.

The unlikely duo seem inescapably lumped with each other. Boog is far too domesticated and like a fish out of water in his native environment. He needs Elliot’s help to find his way home – to Beth. Meanwhile Elliot is looking for companionship after being disowned and booted out of his herd by leader Ian (Patrick Warburton). Their resulting partnership leads them on a series of adventures and it’s only a matter of time before the hunters are upon them…

The all-star cast led by the unmistakeable voice of actor-comedian Martin Lawrence will thoroughly entertain the kids with many laughs along the way as our hapless duo accidentally manage to upset many of their fellow forest animals, as they wander unwittingly into their territories. From the aggressive Scottish squirrels and defenders of the pine trees commanded by clan chief McSquizzy (Billy Connolly) to beaver leader Reilly (Jon Favreau) whose dam they manage to destroy with disastrous consequences. The resulting flood washes a whole host of wild animals downstream towards the hunters including the delusional and dangerously hostile maniac Shaw.

Interspersed with the odd scary moment the story is an easy one to follow even for the youngest members of the audience, but despite this it will have a broad range of appeal. Continually entertaining throughout thanks to the comedic originality of our furry friends antics, the action really hots up towards the end when their ingenious defence plan against the hunters is executed and Boog finally manages to find his footing turning the hunters into the hunted. Interestingly this CG animation will also be digitally converted into IMAX 3D and seems to be following a growing trend from the big film studios. OPEN SEASON: An IMAX 3D Experience will be released simultaneously in IMAX theaters/cinemas.

So with the odds weighted against them as they go into battle – ‘the odd are about to get even’…

4 out of 6 stars