'Open Season' ** 102706
Movie Review (2006)

The Work = **
'Open Season' is the latest of the never-ending string of CGI animal cartoons ('Madagascar', 'The Wild', etc.) I should have known I was in trouble when there were previews for not one but two CGI penguin movies ('Happy Feet', 'Surfs Up'.) 'Open Season' is not so much a bad movie, as a bland one. I mentioned in my last review ('The Devil Wears Prada') that I was not in the target audience for that film and here with 'Open Range' I am out of the target audience again.

The film follows the adventures of Boog the Bear (Martin Lawrence.) Boog is not your ordinary bear (surprise, surprise) he lives like house pet: sleeping in a garage and watching wheel of Fortune. By day he performs for the families in his local community under the supervision of his caretaker Beth (Debra Messing.) Boog’s happy existence is thrown into a topspin when Boog does a passing favor for a hapless dear named Elliot (Ashton Kutcher.) Elliot turns out to be a bundle of trouble and gets Boog tranquilizer darted and booted out into the wilderness. Stuck in the woods, Boog and Elliot try to make their way back to town and encounter a host of wildlife characters along the way.

Some scenes in 'Open Season' work well but there were many passages that didn’t. If the film had been trimmed down to say an hour or 45 minutes this probably would have been a hysterical little cartoon. I saw the film in a theater packed with kids and I was surprised at how many stretches there were with little laughter. When scenes did work 'Open Season' proved to be quite entertaining such as when Boog gets drunk on sugar. His confrontation with Elliot the day after his binge was pretty funny too as it played out backstage at one of Elliot’s performances for the locals.

'Open Season' has a surprisingly bland look throughout much of the film. Some wide shots of the wilderness are pretty but for the most part the movie is unremarkable in its appearance. More problematic were the character designs
which just didn’t do it for me. While Boog and Elliot look appealing the humans have a pretty unappealing look to them. I can’t put my finger on what exactly is missing from the characters and the look of the movie as a whole but whatever it is makes 'Open Season' just seems kind of flat.

Look, I realize I am the last person that should be criticizing animation. My animation on this site is worse than anyone involved in the 'Open Season' would do on their worst day. That being said, I couldn’t help my reaction. Three directors are credited on the film: Roger Allers, Jill Culton, and Anthony Stacchi. I don’t know how much involvement they had in the overall film but Allers at least co-directed The Lion King so he certainly knows how to make a winning film. (Actually I guess it depends what would qualify a film as “winning” because so far 'Open Season' has done gangbusters at the box office.)

There are some cute moments and some scenes that work but on the whole I just can’t recommend 'Open Season'. Lawrence and Kutcher do what they can with the roles and are actually pretty good but the movie feels overlong and just kind of blah. There are several other celebrities who lend there voices to characters but most are indistinguishable save for the always on Patrick Warburton. I loved Boog drunk and the way he was so into Wheel of Fortune. I liked the look of the character and the way the his fur bounced and moved. If other characters had as endearing a look as Boog the film would have been more enjoyable. The only other standouts were the rabbits who were often treated as non-entities that were not so much preyed on as bowled over and ignored. Not recommended.


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