* Prices may differ from that shown
I hope it is OK to write a review of the 3D version here, as there is not a category for this, and of course other than the 3D they are basically the same thing, and the 3D portion of the review will only be included as an add on at the bottom.
We had a wee film night last night with a fun inflatable sofa, popcorn, Pepsi, and chocolate for the children. I bought Open season for two reasons only. It was fairly cheap at £6 on ebay and in 3D. Full price on this in 3D is quite dear, but an ordinary DVD will only set you back £3.76 new and delivered, or £1.26 used.
I can't say there was anything wrong with this film, except that it seems as if I have seen it all before. There are some distinct similarities between Open Season 1, Over the Hedge and Furry Vengeance. I imagine there are probably plenty of other films in which the animals turn the tables on the human as well - not to mention Bugs Bunny who got the better of Elmer Fudd for years. There are also traces of Madagascar and the Wild in this film as a domesticated animals struggles to find his place in the wild.
The plot to this film is simple enough. Boog is a huge grizzly, but living life as a pampered pet has left him soft and childish. All of that changes when he saves a misfit deer named Elliot from a hunter. Elliot gets Boog into all sorts of trouble with the end result that he is released into the wild - just three days before hunting season is due to begin. Boog hasn't a clue how to get on in the woods - he is used to sleeping in bed, having food in his dish - and where can he find a proper toilet in the middle of the wilderness? Meanwhile - a deranged hunter with a grudge is looking for Boog and Elliot, and Boog's mistake puts many wild animals in harms way as well.
Boog is desperate to get home to the Ranger who has cared for him since he was a cub. he doesn't want any part of the wilderness and finds a Elliiot a huge pain in the behind. But can he head for safety and leave the other creatures to pay for his mistake? Predictably, Boog grows up on his journey, accepts responsibility and learns the real value of friendship.
I found the film watchable - just. If I hadn't been watching with children, I would not have sat through to it to the end. I enjoy many children's films and quite a few of them have enough jokes to entertain an adult as well - at least a rather childish adult. But I found this rather dull and predictable. The voice acting of the main characters was poor in my opinion. I like Martin Lawrence well enough in most films, but I think he tried to bring a bit too much Big Momma to his role as Boog, and it just didn't work for me. I've no problem with Ashton Kutcher, either but I found him a bit too annoying as Elliot. I do realise he was meant to be annoying, but I think he just went over the top. An irritable Scottish Squirrel livened things up a bit, and i did like his character. It was only after watching the film that I realised where I knew the voice from - It is Billy Connolly but his accent sounds slightly different. I suppose enough Scottish to identify hte character, but not his natural Glaswegian accent, which has been toned down over the years, I assume to make it easier for Americans to understand what he is saying. I think Gary Sinise gave the best performance here as a psychotic, troglodyte hunter.
But for all my whinging about the plot - my children loved it. My oldest gives this 4 1/2 stars and my youngest insists on 5 1/2. Both said it was great. They were laughing non stop from start to finish, and if I could not really enjoy the film, I could enjoy just watching them take so much pleasure from it. From a young child's perspective, this has everything - a few good toilet humour scenes, something like kids alone in a sweetshop - except that it was animals, brasserie catapults, injured bums, and all sorts of slapstick violence.
My oldest says his favourite part was a porcupine that wants a buddy, but the porcupine has a few other brilliant scenes as well - from a child's point of view. My youngest likes seeing a bit of misfortune befall the hunter. An unusual deployment of skunks was also very popular with both. There is also a brilliant incident between the deer and the bear in the garage, seen only through the curtains as a shadow play that both children loved.
The animation is very good, but then most of the CGI films are well animated today. The expressions on the bear were especially good. I also liked the overall effect when large numbers of animals are combined into many scenes, making everything seem alive and vibrant.
This film has plenty of violence, but it is mild. There are no deaths or serious injuries. No blood is shed, and I do feel there is anything in this film that would be overly frightening to even a very young child. I would recommend this film for very young children - up to perhaps age 10 - 12. I would not recommend this for adults on their own, unless you absolutely adore animated children's films and take special delight in seeing animals get the better of people, however unrealistically. As this film is not intended for adults though, I will rate this based on my children's opinions, giving this a full 5 stars. As a child's film, it is top notch.
I found the 3D on this very clear and sharp. There was absolutely no ghosting or blurry moments, and this is not the type of film to leave you with a sore head. The depth on this was pretty good, and there were some scenes with grass or other plants to the front that were exceptional as far as depth, but there were no real jump out at you moments. I would rate the 3D as very good, but not spectacular. Of course the problem with spectacular 3D is that you often do end up with blurred scenes, ghosts and significant eye strain. This film is pleasant and easy to watch.
* 3D experiences can vary. The slightest smudge or scratch on the glasses can result in a completely different viewing experience. The angle of viewing will have a significant effect as well. You will also find that distance from the TV is critical. Too far back and the 3D effects are very muted, making it hardly different from ordinary TV. To far forward and and you lose effects as well and end up with eye strain. You have to experiment a bit to find just the right place - which will almost certainly not be where your furniture is - hence the blow up sofa so the children have an ideal viewing experience.
We have viewed this using passive TV technology. As I understand, active 3D would be more intense, but more prone to ghosts, blurred scenes, headaches and eyestrain, but not having ever tried it, my comments on this are purely hearsay.
The bluray 3D disk is sold as a single disk. This disk has bluray 2D and 3D on the same disk, but there is not a seperate disk for DVD as many of the newer bluray packages have.
A few years ago when my daughter was very young the only time I would ever get any peace and calm was when I put Open Season on or Boog as we call it,she really loved it and would never get board of watching it,also this film has stood the test of time as my daughter still enjoys it from time to time,and I also quite like it myself.
This movie centers around two main characters,Boog who's voice is done by Martin Lawrence and Elliot who's voice is done by Ashton Kutcher,Boog is a big strong bear but is not dangerous at all he is actually a pet and the lady who keeps him has him sleeping comfy in her garage,he is well looked after and enjoys all the benefits of being a family pet.
Boog is no trouble at all then one day whilst waiting for his owner who has just popped in to the shop he meets Elliot a mule dear,Elliot is tied up on top of a car because the local hunter has caught him as the two begin to have a friendly chat Boog decides to cut the ropes freeing Elliot.
Elliot takes this kind gesture as a invitation for friendship and that night turns up at Boog's house and bribes him to come outside with chocolate which is when all the trouble begins.
For all the trouble Ellliot and Boog cause the towns sheriff decides Boog is to wild to live in the town and needs to go back to the Forrest to live,and after being put to sleep Boog wakes up with Elliot in the Forrest and he is not happy to say the least.
Boog and Elliot get up to some antics for the next few days trying to find the way home for Boog, meeting lots of different animals in the Forrest along there way.
Boog's return to the wild could not of came at a worse time as open season is due which is when all the hunters are allowed to come in to the Forrest and hunt the poor animals,which is when all the animals decide to join forces and go to war with the hunters trying to get them.
This is a brilliant film and one I would certainly recommend to not only children but adults also,as it is really funny and will have you laughing along all the way through.
For me Martin Lawrence is the one who makes this film so good as he puts his funny personality across through his voice and mixed together with a great story line and some interesting characters all makes for a outstanding film,which is well worth watching.
With actors such as Martin Lawrence and Billy Connolly this can be nothing but hilarious and I highly recommend giving it a watch.
You can also find this review on Ciao under laurenthornton123
Boog is a big brown grizzly bear who is happily living with his human owner, Beth. The pair of them make a living from their sideshow that they do in their town, and things seem to be going quite well for them. However, when an crazy and excitable male deer called Elliot lands into Boog's life, he turns it upside down and not for the better. Boog ends up being kicked out of his home with Beth, and together with Elliot find themselves in the wild and are totally at a loss as to how to survive out there. They're quickly ridiculed by the woodland animals, and are also being stalked by hunter Shaw, and are struggling to survive. But when something happens which puts not only Boog and Elliot but the animals of the forest as well in danger, they realise that they have to work together to bet the hunters in their Open Season...
I have to confess that this isn't a film I had ever really heard a great deal about, but when it was on telly a few weeks ago, I recorded it in anticipation of watching it with Harry. We always have "movie night" on a Saturday evening, and got around to watching this last weekend. I have to confess it isn't the best animated film I have ever seen, but it kept both Harry and I entertained for the duration, and he especially really enjoyed it, which I suppose is good since he is the target market! This film is Sony's first adventure into the animated movie market, one which is dominated by Disney Pixar and Dreamworks, so they really had do something special to compete with these big guns and unfortunately, this one just didn't quite make the grade in that respect.
An animated film relies heavily on two things - the animation itself and the performance from the voice actors. Now the children watching it won't pay huge amounts of attention to this second point, but to an adult who is forced to watch these films too, good voice acting can make or break a film. The best voice actors in any animated film for me are always going to be Tim Allen and Tom Hanks as Buzz Lightyear and Woody the Sheriff. They encompass everything about their characters, and are perfect. In this film, Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher take the reins as Boog the bear and Elliot the deer respectively. Lawrence is pretty average which is a shame as I expected more from him, and I didn't think his performance was especially standout in any way. I felt Kutcher put a lot into his role, and he did really well with his performance, but it's a shame that Elliot is such an annoying character and one you aren't supposed to like a great deal!
There are quite a few other big names in here but none that particularly stood out to me. Debra Messing (Will & Grace) plays Boog's human owner Beth, a sweet but nondescript character who I felt faded into the background somewhat. Yes, I liked Messing's performance when she was in a scene but she was very forgettable once she was off screen. The only other performance I remember was Billy Connolly as squirrel McSquizzy who is intent on defending his tree at any cost. I don't know if I remember him because of his broad Scottish accent but he was amusing on screen! Other than that, the cast wasn't anything to write home about and certainly won't be winning any awards for their performance, or indeed this film!
The animation is nice enough for the duration of the film, but again it certainly isn't up to the standards set by Disney Pixar and Dreamworks. Again, this isn't really something that the younger members of the audience will pick up on but it's another little bugbear for the grown ups watching this. The animals were portrayed realistically, they all resembled what they were supposed to be and the human characters were well created too, but certainly forgettable and were second fiddle to the animals. The story itself isn't anything overly special but I do admit it picked up a lot towards the second half of the film. I felt the first half dragged a little too much for me, and I wanted at times for it to speed up. Some of the scenes that were clearly meant to be funny felt a little too silly, although Harry was giggling away bless him. It was very predictable however, and there are definitely better "talking animal" films out there, such as Happy Feet, Finding Nemo and Shrek. Harry enjoyed this one but I can't see me wanting to sit through it time and time again as I can with a lot of his films. A cast which isn't overly great, animation which is quite bog-standard in this time and a bit of a lacklustre storyline don't add up to a great movie, but Harry loved it which I guess is the important thing, right?!
Directed by Roger Allers and Jill Culton
Written by Steve Bencich and Ron J. Friedman
Running Time: 83 minutes
Martin Lawrence ... Boog (voice)
Ashton Kutcher ... Elliot (voice)
Gary Sinise ... Shaw (voice)
Debra Messing ... Beth (voice)
Billy Connolly ... McSquizzy (voice)
Georgia Engel ... Bobbie (voice)
Jon Favreau ... Reilly (voice)
Jane Krakowski ... Giselle (voice)
You can buy the DVD on Amazon.co.uk for £4.32 now (February 2012 selling price). Open Seasons 2 and 3 are also available on DVD too.
Thank you for reading.
OPEN SEASON, is an animated action-adventure, which follows the fortunes of two forest-animal misfits. Boog (Martin Lawrence) who is a gentle and domesticated bear;and Elliot (Ashton Kutcher) who is an absentminded and accident-prone deer who is a outcast.
Whilst struggling to adapt to the life in the wild , they yearn for their lives they once had, Elliot tries to help lead Boog back to the mountainside town, but they are me with the hostility of their fellow creatures also living in the forsest in the shap on a squirrel, (McSquizzy played by Billy Connelly) and beaver (Reilly -played by Jon Favreau) and deer called Ian (Patrick WarburtonP) who just happens to be Elliot sworn enemy.
As the hunting season is approaching the dangers in the forest and become very high and have to learn to avoid the hunters in order to survive
I feel that this is an excellent film for young children, as it encourages children to get along with people even they appear to be different from yourself. To watch and would recommend it for all round family fun.
Relatively overlooked animated films seem to be catching my attention this week. "Open Season" was released in 2006 by Sony Pictures Animation which also brought us "Surf's Up" and "Monster House". In the age of 3D animation mega-films such as Shrek, Ice Age, Monsters Inc, anything by Pixar, these films rather fell by the wayside. My husband and I saw "Open Season" on television on a trip to visit my parents in Canada and were amused enough to actually purchase the film (I think it cost about £1.50 when my husband was buying something he really wanted). While the film is fairly formulaic and clichéd there are one or two bits that we reference regularly in our house, but more on that later on.
The star of the film is a grizzly bear named, Boog (voice by Martin Lawrence) who performs for crowds with his caregiver, Beth (Debra Messing), a park ranger and lives in her garage along with his teddy bear. Boog enjoys fishy crackers and the Teddy Bear's picnic song and his life is good. Good that is until it is thrown upside down by Elliot (Ashton Kutcher), a deer with only one antler and little common sense. After Boog and Elliot destroy the town shop things unravel further and Beth is forced to leave Boog in the wilderness. At the best of time this would be terrible for the pampered bear but hunting season is just three days away. In order to survive Boog will have to tap into his inner-bear as well as a few more urban tricks and lead the animals in turning the tables on the hunters. At the heart of the story is Boog's quest to decide where he belongs.
SO SHOULD I SEE IT?
Thus far the film doesn't have a lot to recommend it. I recognise that this plotline has been done many times before. The weak plot is why the film was largely panned by critics and did not manage to find the necessary adult market that animated features must cater to these days. The buddies in this buddy film been done better in other places (Shrek for example), but Boog is a loveable character and Elliot is easily recognisable as the annoying sidekick that film goers have come to know and love. The film is nothing new but it falls into a comfortable story telling pattern that I believe would appeal to children and keep them occupied. Of course our household doesn't have any children (despite my husband's tendency to act like a 12 year old), so how did we wind up with it?
Despite being quite predictable the film has some delightful touches and managed to get us to giggle. These do seem to be found primarily outside of the main action of the film which might be where they filmmakers went wrong. Perhaps more delight should be found in the leads, but Kutcher, Lawrence and Messing's characters were merely mediocre, while some of the smaller roles stole the show.
My husband's favourite moment in the film is when white rabbits are launched through the air against the hunters. There is just something quite hilarious at the sight of these rabbits flying through the air. Usually we see it more than once as he insists on replaying it. We decided that all arguments in our marriage were best worked out while throwing rabbits at each other though we felt the stuffed kind would be best. Another great woodland creature is the porcupine who is so pleased to be included in the activities and to have a "buddy". Along the way he realises that he has "no buddy" in a tone of voice that is pitch perfect. Mr. Weenie, the pampered pet of an overbearing caravaner and her pipsqueak husband, is another delight. However, the best character in the entire film has to be McSquizzy (Billy Connelly) the squirrel. I do not know how a Scottish squirrel found its way to the American wilderness, but he saves the film as the bully of the forest.
There has been some mention of the anti-hunting theme of this film. The hunting in "Open Season" is of the very definitely North American variety. The main villain of the film is a hunter to end all hunters. He hunts out of season and becomes obsessed with his prey. However, the other hunters are all stereotypical American hunters in plaid shirts and pick-up trucks. If you are one of those Brits who enjoys a bit of fox hunting this is not going to give your child any funny ideas about saving the fluffies. For the most part hunting is simply a device to place the main characters into a situation where they have to act quickly. An hour and a half of a bear and a deer wandering around the woods annoying each other was going to get old fast, so they introduced the hunters. It did not come across as overly preachy or offensive.
Despite obviously not being a powerhouse in the animation industry, Sony Pictures, has turned out consistent, pleasant animation in "Open Season". It has a lighter pallet than some of the Pixar films and less detailed background, but this makes for a pleasant viewing experience all the same. I feel certain that the animation would appeal to small children, though again, don't have one to test this theory out on.
Obviously, if you have not yet seen "Ratatioulle" or "Kung Fu Panda" or "Wall-e" then head for those rather than "Open Season". However, it was an amusing little film with some amusing moments. Would have given it 3 1/2 stars if that were an option but thought 4 was a little bit overly generous!
Open season is the first Sony movie to enter the computer generated movie market that Dreamworks and particularly Disney Pixar have cornered and I have to say they don't really do a great job of it. Sure the story is OK without ever giving you the same emotional rollercoaster of a Pixar movie or the outrageous comedy of a Dreamworks movie, but is does evrything to a standrad that is more than good enough to make it a rental, but maybe not a purchase.
The voices for the movie are provided by the likes of Fergal Reilly, Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher, with Ashton inparticular playing a pretty good role. The voices are thankfully on the ball as the animation is second rate compared to similar movies. I am sure that the basic style of the artwork is on purpose but it is just not very impressive now and the lack of any fur on the animals for example is a bit of a cop out at times.
The storyline is one of revenge and has a feeling of being a little too obvious in places but still manages to entertain a little. The real pleasure from this film for me was seeing my 2 year old name all the animals one by one as they appeared on the farm. The movie did little all else to keep her interested for more than 10 minutes.
The DVD extras include deleted scenes, behind the trees - a making of, directors commentary, photo gallery and voice-o-rama activity to name but a few. These are nice but not enough to add any real value to a proposed purchase.
I have also seen this movie in high definition from my friends blu-ray version and I have to say that the animation does get a little more impressive at 720ppi.
From the advent of "Toy Story" in 1995, the first feature-length CGI animation, up until about 2004, we were lucky to get more than two movies a year in this dazzling format, as slowly but surely the computer-generated 3D characters choked the life out of their 2D counterparts and the new breed of animation filmmakers emerged.
We were delighted by the sheer imaginative scope of Pixar's "A Bug's Life", "Monsters, Inc." and "Finding Nemo", as well as their more comedy-based cousin DreamWorks with the excellent "Antz" and "Shrek".
Each one was brilliant and widely imaginative, creating a brand new genre of profit-making movies that would make as much money from the adults as they would the kids, appealing to both equally.
However, during the past four years or so, the market has become a place no longer so cordoned off by these two large, successful studios, and a batch of strangers have leapt onto the scene, most notably Blue Sky Studios, cropping up in 2002 with the surprise hit "Ice Age", who then went on to release "Robots", "Ice Age 2", and most recently the Dr. Seuss-inspired "Horton Hears a Who!".
The stragglers of the bunch are Vanguard Animation with their mostly unheard of "Valiant" and "Space Chimps", as well as Walt Disney's "Meet the Robinsons".
With DreamWork's "Shrek" series, "Bee Movie", "Kung Fu Panda" et al, as well as the technical brilliance of Pixar's recent efforts "Ratatouille" and "Wall-E", is there any chance for the smaller companies to compete against these definitive heavyweights?
Well, there's always Sony Pictures Animation, whose first CGI feature "Open Season" didn't create the biggest of splashes in the animation pond, but it's turned out to be a solid start regardless.
Rescued when he was only a cub, grizzly bear Boog, voiced by Martin Lawrence, enjoys his days in captivity, looked after by the motherly park-ranger Beth, voiced by Debra Messing, living in her garage like a large dog.
During one of their regular trips into town, Beth and Boog stop outside the Sheriff's office and we learn it is not too long until 'open season', a few days given over to hunters to go out a'shootin' wildlife.
While Beth is away, Boog reluctantly helps save the life of buck Elliot, voiced by Ashton Kutcher, from crazy-eyed hunter Shaw's (Gary Sinise) truck bonnet, leading to an uneasy alliance between the two.
But Elliot's wild ways soon get Boog into lots of trouble, and, scared that these changes in the bear's behaviour may mean he may become dangerous towards the townsfolk, they are tranquilised and wake up deep in the forest, far from town, and must fend for themselves.
Not only are there pompous deer to contend with, but rude beavers, face-slapping fish, an army of squirrels headed by the Scottish McSquizzy (Billy Connolly), as well as there not being a single portaloo cabin in the entire forest for Boog to use.
Can Boog and Elliot find their way back to town before mad-cap Shaw's rifle finds them?
Now, except for "Bad Boys" and "Bad Boys II", usually anything Martin Lawrence touches is outright garbage, such as "Big Momma's House" and "Black Knight", but thankfully his voice lends well to the big, lovable grizzly in a Yogi kind of way, and there's little to fault his vocals on.
The same can really be said for the rest of the voice cast as well, and it's difficult to find problems in the chosen actors' voices of animations, but perhaps there's a little bitterness from the whole Scottish Braveheart-stereotype, but then I reckon Connolly was having a good time of it.
The actual animation itself is superb.
While perhaps it is not as crisp and detailed as Pixar's recent efforts, it is hard to find faults with this comfortable, furry picture, especially since it sports some cracking water effects, as well as a whole range of innovative camera tricks and direction, which really do help to set this apart from similar movies.
However, the choice of using animals and producing a big cuddly movie was always going to bring critticism, especially with the amount of creature-features on the market, especially "Ice Age", "Over the Hedge" and "Madagascar" lurking about.
Then there's the whole buddy film-making which is being used endlessly in animations like these, reusing the same old 'odd couple' routine that is so effective ad nauseum.
Boog & Elliot, is there any difference between them and Shrek & Donkey, Manny & Sid or Sulley & Mike?
As well as the character relationships not being too deep, the storyline itself is hardly complicated and takes very few risks, often resorting to slapstick and crude humour to get most of the laughs.
What holds this movie in a different light, however, is its strong anti-hunting message that pervades throughout the movie, which, although a good thing, sometimes feels overpowering and presented as more important than an actual interesting story.
Because of this issue, however, it does have its moments, especially with the Gary Sinise-voiced character Shaw, believing there's a big conspiracy in which the animals are planning to take over the world, leading to an amusing cut-scene of a future world where men are slaves.
This villain is probably the most entertaining character of the lot, especially with his large toothy grin and oddball eyes, and he'll crack many a laugh for the kiddies.
It's certainly one for the younguns this, especially with the merchandise-focus of cuddly Boog bears and long-legged furry Elliot deer to be had from all good toy shops.
I can't begin to imagine how much money movies like this rake in.
Up against the rest of the studios, Sony Pictures Animation certainly hold their own with this picture but it is in no way leaps or bounds ahead of the competition.
While using animals is all well and good, a more original story needs to be invested in rather than littering the background with one-dimensional side-characters to crack a few laughs - can you remember how detailed "Monsters, Inc." was and how stupendously exciting its finale?
As long as these second-rate companies don't get bogged down in same-old same-old, quick production for a quick buck, then there's certainly possibilities and talent here to take on the big dogs.
Sony, where's your sense of competition?
[The DVD can be purchased from play.com for £4.99 including postage and packing (at time of writing).]
I sat down to watch this film with my wife and two kids. I am going to admit something (maybe others do this, do let me know in the comments). When I watch a film that I think might not entertain me, I pop my laptop next to me. Sometimes, I find myself opening it quietly and surfing the internet... shame on me.
Open Season was one of those films, laptop at the ready. Once the film had started I was amazed at how beautiful the animation was. The main character 'Boog' is a tamed grizzly bear, who lives with a park ranger and performs to the locals in a show. He had all the home comforts, bed, food, even a cuddly toy. When he teams up with Elliot the moose, things start to go wrong. He gets in a lot of trouble and is eventually dumped back in the woods to fend for himself.
The films then follows his adventure to find his way home. This journey is full of really fun characters that keep you entertained the whole way through.
Did my laptop get switched on? No, it stayed firmly shut. Open Season has wonderful animation with superb detail. The sound is awesome too. Most of all, you will enjoy the storyline, one of adventure and true friendship. Highly recommended.
Open Season (DVD)
I really enjoyed this film.
It has a great family film and can be enjoyed by us adults too.
In the movie we start off by meeting Boog, a great big friendly bear who lives a sheltered life of luxury
With his human friend. Boog has his own show and he goes a bit mad so it is decided that he should be sent back to the wild which along with his friend Elliot the moose he must try and find his way home.
We follow boog and Elliot through many adventures and meet a few funny characters' on the way.
my favorite has to be Elliot as he has some funny lines.
I really enjoyed this movie for what it is a fun family animation movie.
A good film to watch on a rainy afternoon maybe but it cannot compare to the likes of shrek.
overall i rate it 7 out of 10.
Boog, a grizzly bear, has spent many happy years in the loving care of park ranger Beth. Unfortunately, when the town's most dangerous and notorious hunter Shaw straps Elliot, a live deer to the hood of his car, things are about to take a turn for the worse. Feeling sorry for Elliot, Boog frees him and Elliot repays him by introducing him to the wonders of the sugar high. Several misunderstandings later, Beth decides they would be better off out of town, sedates them and releases them into the wild. Longing for home, can Boog and Elliot survive the perils of the wild and return to town before Shaw and "Open Season" descend upon them?
Have I seen this film before? It certainly feels like it. "Madagascar", "Ice Age" and "Over the Hedge" are all examples of films that tread the same boards and "Open Season" could be mistaken for any one of them. It offers absolutely nothing new and as the computer generated animal film epidemic rumbles on, this is just one of many animal buddy movies. Hell, at times it feels like I am back in the 1980's watching "Tango and Cash"!
Just because it is yet another buddy movie, this does not mean that it is inevitably bad. The success of "Ice Age" is proof that funny animal animations that appeal to adults and children can be made. Unfortunately, "Open Season" does not manage to mimic any of "Ice Age's" success as it manages to be unfunny, and generally quite dull.
The plot is simple enough and small children will find it easy to follow. My four-year-old daughter manages to follow the story easily. However, the film could not even raise a chuckle from her. In theory, this is a strong cast and with Martin Lawrence playing "Boog" and Ashton Kucher as "Elliot" they could have bounced off each other quite happily. Unfortunately, there is a lack of chemistry between them and there is a complete lack of funny dialogue or even simple comedy slapstick. Lawrence, as the spoilt grizzly is completely unlikeable and although Kucher throws himself into his role, he is given little material to thrive on. The cast of supporting characters are also dull with the only notable exception Billy Connolly's terribly funny "Mc Squizzy the squirrel" which fulfils just about every Scottish stereotpye you could think of but at least gives them the film it's only memorable one liner.
As with nearly all the animated films nowadays, the Computer Generated Imagery is impressive although as per usual, you do wonder if it actually adds anything to the film and if anything, it just makes it all a little soulless. The only time you really notice it is towards the end of the film were the pace finally picks up to a half decent finale and you appreciate the fine detail in the animals and the backgrounds.
So, it is dull dull dull other than a half decent finale so should I really go on? Okay then, the soundtrack is pretty much what you would come to expect. This means American college rock of the most vacuous order. You will not be wanting to buy the soundtrack although it serves it's purpose well enough by highlighting the supposed important parts of the film. For example it highlights loosely the moral of the story being hunting is wrong and the little guys winning through although even this is a cack handed and poorly executed premise.
To be fair I am probably being so harsh on this film because I am fed up of the lack of imagination being shown by children's movie makers at present. All ideas are rehashed ad infinitum and "Open Season" probably suffers more than most as a result. It is not the worst children's film you can watch. However, it matches "Over the Hedge", to which it bears far too many similarities, in terms of taking a good cast, a big budget, and then making an absolutely run of the mill, mediocre family film. One to avoid unless you have never seen this sort of thing before.
Directors: Roger Allers and Jill
Voice Actors: Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher, Debra Messing, Gary Sinise, Billy Connolly
Cinema release date: October 2006
Run Time: 86mins
Boog (?) is a grizzly bear who lives in domesticated bliss with park ranger Beth. Until that is, he helps a deer named Elliot (the latest victim of the local nasty hunter, Shaw) to freedom. Elliott, believing Boog is being held against his will as a pet and general circus attraction decides to return the favour and free him from his domestic chains into the wild.
A series of misunderstandings ensues and Beth, convinced Boog is reverting to life in the wild decides it is best if Boog returns to his natural habitat. Of course, the bear who sleeps with a teddy and drinks out of a dog's food dish is totally incapable of surviving the wild without some help.
Cue the hilarity and Boog and Elliot try to survive faced with the beginning of the hunting season looming over them.
Will the duo forgive and forget and be able to work together? Will they escape the threat of the blood-hungry hunters? Will the other forest animals turn on them? Will Boog be reunited with his beloved Beth?????Oh the questions!
I wasn't far into this film when I started questioning whether I had seen it before or not. I hadn't, but the formula of animated kids films has now become relatively standard and Open Season was nothing new.
The storyline was basic enough for kids to follow easily and there was the added modern day ethical dilemma thrown in for good measure. It was refreshing to see a film, which tackles society's general disrespect for other nature and wildlife and in particular, the ridiculous hobby of hunting. I would even go as far as to say, on this level, it was a brave move to confront what in the States is no doubt a "national pastime" and to paint hunting in a silly and negative manner.
Sadly, the writers then go and throw the good intentions out the window by having the bigger animals treat the smaller animals in exactly the same way as the hunters treat them. Although it did of course get many laughs, especially from the kids, I have to question how on one hand a film can condemn man for abusing their power and these animals, and then on the next, show the bigger animals using rabbits as animal bombs, hurling them at each other in a "rabbit fight". Surely, this just promotes the "bigger animals bullying the smaller/weaker/more stupid animals" idea.
The film, which for the most part consists of little more than insults being hurled around the campfire so to speak, picks up steam in the last 30 minutes or so but from the very beginning was entirely predictable and had a whiff of deja-vu to it. Witty one-liner insults may entertain for a while but an entire film script cannot be successful if put-downs are its only substance.
It is the current trend to employ big name stars to do the voices to animated films for the sole purpose of getting bums on seats in the cinema. The sad fact is, names may attract the attention but they can't carry a film.
There is no doubt Lawrence and Kutcher played off each others' characters well although I found Lawrence to be a bit overpowering at times, as if he kept forgetting he wasn't doing a one-man stand up show.
Debra Messing as Beth was unremarkable, but then, her character was wetter than a soggy dishtowel anyway. With that in mind I must concede, she played the part well.
There were however two characters that I enjoyed and thought were voiced well. Gary Sinise as the mean and moronic hunter was brilliantly cast. He was a sinister and rather disgusting creature and yet, his equal stupidity, lessened the threat enough to make him less terrifying to the kids watching.
My absolute favourite parts of the film came courtesy of our very own Billy Connolly who was cast as the sort of rebel leader McSquizzy. McSquizzy the squirrel leader was always ready for attack with nuts in hand (the film was littered with nut oriented inuendo). I could see McSquizzy in a Rangers football top with a Scottish flag tied around his neck leading a pack of football supporters down a busy road singing and chanting to keep spirits up as he goes. He was a brilliant character and for me, made this film that bit more bearable.
I haven't seen the 3-D version of this film but hear it is the features' one redeeming quality. Having merely rented the DVD, I can agree the animation is good, with care taken to not scrimp on the details. The detailed scenery certainly gave the film added depth.
The animals in particular were given a certain motion which made them come to life. Touches like seeing Boog's fur swishing in the breeze makes it easier to identify and sympathise with the characters. This I understand is down to a new tool Sony developed called shapers. This allowed animators to manipulate character models allowing for more subtlety and stronger poses and silhouettes.
However, when the animation is the only strong point of a film, you know its in trouble.
The soundtrack is a lively and fitting contribution by film composer Paul Westerberg. There are a few karaoke-style bits which are good for a laugh, but nothing that jumps out and grabs you.
My final thought
What a shame. If the storyline had been stronger, the script more adventurous, the characters stronger and the basic idea for the film better thought out, this could have been a fantastic film. Unfortunately, those are som pretty major hurdles to get over.
It isn't a horrible film and the kids will all the verbal abuse (the thing I disliked most) but there is nothing different here. Nothing sets it aside from the likes of other mediocre animated animal-themed films( like Madagascar). The days of animated films being a novelty are over and it is time producers stepped up to the plate to create more challenging and unique films for our kids to enjoy.
I bet you didn't know....
1. Ashton Kutcher and Martin Lawrence never met during the making of the film.
2. Only Roger Allers, of all the directors involved in this project, had experience working on feature films.
3. The glory of advertising has touched this film - all mobiles featured are Sony Ericssons.
4. This film opened in the top spot bringing in circa £11m
5. This was Sony's first feature from their animation department.
6. The film took a staggering three and a half years to make
7. Boog's fur is comprised of over 1.6 million hairs and Elliot, the substantially smaller of the two has 3.5million (shorter hair means more is needed to cover the poor naked deer.
If there is one thing that I have noticed when watching the many CGI cartoons that I have in the past few years is that the voice talent on show makes a huge difference to the experience. Many decent enough films have fallen flat due to a poor choice in voice acting. Sinbad (not CGI) had huge stars like Brad Pitt, but sucked because he was too bland. Other films have succeeded with relatively lower rated actors e.g. Hoodwinked. If you hire actors that work in comedy you are going to get someone that knows the art of comic timing. Therefore, with these rules it would make sense that combining a comedic actor who is a big star would make for the ultimate CGI cartoon. That may be true unless those stars are Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher.
Boog is a bear who has lived with a kindly, but overly mothering, park warder since he was a cub. Rather than release him into the wild Boog has become a local town attraction as he entertains the children. Things turn bad for Boog when a deer called Elliot turns up. A misunderstanding between the two leads to them being released into the wild far away from home. Things could not be much worse for the tame Boog until he realises that the open hunting season starts in a few days time. Can Boog, with the aid of the irritating Elliot, get back home in time before the shooting starts?
Open Season is yet another title in the already bulging genre that is the talking animal CGI cartoon. To be honest I can not think of too many that are particularly good, but I can name a few stinkers Over the hedge, Shark Tale, Barnyard. All these films lack decent scripts and feel like cynical cash-ins its time to add Open Season to this list.
The major problem with the film is the poor script. The story itself is so generic that you imagine there must be computer algorithm somewhere in Hollywood churning out binary scripts. *Animal taken from safe environment and having to journey along a given path meeting various hilarious creatures on the way BETA package*. Even this should not be enough to make a bad film, just unoriginal. However, the actual visual, and more importantly, aural jokes just fall flat. For the first third of the film all the pratfalls and slapstick just are not funny. Even a small child would have seen better physical comedy several times in their short lives. Maybe it is my jaded adult perspective, but I require a lot more intelligence if I am to begin to enjoy a film.
The major issue with the script are the jokes themselves. This is because the film has been written, or rewritten, to take into account the personalities of the actors who voice the characters. Unfortunately this means that the film is stunted as it stars Martin Lawrence and Aston Kutcher. Lawrence as Boog is the stand out worst thing in this film, as he is often the stand out worst thing in all his films. I think that his everyman character just does not travel well to this country. He is far too interested in making comedy from racial stereotypes, which is pretty redundant when playing a bear. Kutcher is slightly better as his voice acting works, the problem he has is that Elliot is a very annoying character. Neither actor has much to work with and seeing as they are in almost every scene it leads to a pretty bad situation.
The film is also populated with other characters all playing some form of stereotype. Bill Connelly is underused and typecast as a mean Scottish squirrel whilst Debra Messing, as Beth the friendly park ranger, is good if nothing else. Only Gary Sinise, as Shaw the sinister hunter who thinks that the animals are conspiring together, comes out with credit. He may be cliché in this film, but he is scary none the less.
The film does get better in the second half, but by that time you may have lost the will to watch it. It also has a slightly ham fisted but valid take on hunting being a bad thing. It is no wonder that that the American right wing thinks that Hollywood is pushing their liberal agenda when every childs cartoon seems to want to lambaste one of their favourite pursuits. If the makers of this film had replaced Lawrence as the main character and concentrated on the story they could have had a good film. The CGI is top quality and some moments do make you smile. However, these can not make up for the average feel and lacklustre cast.
Director: Roger Allen and Jill Culton
Starring: Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher
Price: Amazon uk £9.98
There is the usual large amount of extras on the DVD that you expect from a childrens film, but once again I can take or leave them. The commentary and featurettes are there, if you can be bothered, as well as a couple of games. I played a quiz that would entertain a small child if this became their favourite film and a game were you could change the dubbing which was a bit boring, but vaguely educational. And dont worry folks there is the obligatory awful music video.
Open Season - Growing up can be a confusing journey fraught with difficult choices. Boog (Martin Lawrence) is a domesticated grizzly bear who leads a perfectly happy life inside of Park Ranger Beth's (Debra Messing) garage, but a chance meeting with an overly energetic mule deer named Elliot (Ashton Kutcher) quickly changes everything and lands Boog high in the forest a few days before the opening of hunting season. Devoid of even the most basic survival skills, Boog and Elliot stumble through the woods and find themselves at the mercy of every forest animal from skunks to chipmunks as well as an evil hunter named Shaw (Gary Sinise). After unintentionally inciting and endangering an entire forest full of clever animals, Boog and Elliot come to the realization that only by banding together do the forest animals stand a chance of outsmarting the hunters and ensuring their own survival. Open Season is the first animated film from Sony Pictures Animation, and takes its inspiration from cartoonist Steve Moore (In the Bleachers) and features animals with human-like intelligence, a vibrant colour palate, and skilled animation that makes everything from the wind blowing Boo's fur to the animals' wild trip down the falls simply breathtaking. While it doesn't quite live up to Over the Hedge, Open Season is an entertaining production that explores the difficult process of maturation, the universal need for acceptance, and the true value of friendship. --Tami Horiuchi