Small children will like it. Then again, small children will like anything.
I was hoping that the disembodied voice of Ashton Kutcher in an animated film like Open Season might somehow be less irritating than the flesh-and-blood version seen in live-action classics like The Butterfly Effect. I was wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.
Open Season follows a firmly established tenet that's been around since the early days of hand-drawn animation: kids like to see things talk that generally don't. Whether it's bugs, fish, cars or big green ogres - give 'em funny voices and watch the money roll in. Entire studios have been built on this principle, and over the past decade they've exploited it to the tune of billions of dollars in profits.
But Hollywood execs don't just kill the golden goose; they clone it first so they can continue killing it over and over again. In this case, Open Season joins a glut of CG films released in recent years featuring talking animals in unfamiliar environments. And while other offerings like Madagascar and Over the Hedge were at least able to throw something fresh into the mix, Open Season at times feels excruciatingly derivative.
The plot revolves around Boog (Martin Lawrence), a 900 lb. domesticated bear suddenly released into the woods three days before hunting season begins. Unaccustomed to the rigors of the forest, Boog finds an unlikely -- and highly annoying -- companion in the form of Elliot (Kutcher), a one-horned deer who's been banished from his herd.
Together they forge a friendship while trying to elude Shaw (Gary Sinise), a gruff, dim-witted hunter bent on making trophies out of them. But when a dam-bursting mishap suddenly puts the entire animal population at risk to hunters, Boog and Elliott will have to unite all of the creatures of the forest in order to defeat their human predators and survive hunting season.
Open Season marks Sony's first foray into the CG animation genre, a realm heretofore dominated by the likes of Dreamworks and Pixar. Aesthetically speaking, the animation ranks right up there with the best of the two CG behemoths; the astoundingly vivid animation truly sparkled on my LCD television.
Because they're transferred directly from computer to DVD (as opposed to the vast majority of live-action features, which are shot on film and then transferred), CG animated movies are a great way to showcase the picture capabilities of any HD-ready television. In the case of Open Season, blades of grass and droplets of water are rendered with breathtaking crispness.
The story, unfortunately, is far less breathtaking. In fact, it's rather ordinary. Scatological jokes abound, as well as standard "look at the stupid humans" barbs. Almost all of them miss the mark in this unremarkable debut for Sony Pictures Animation.
What's on the Disc:
In addition to a commentary track featuring the filmmakers, there are a ton of extra features for fans of Open Season.
Behind the Trees - A behind the scenes "making of" featurette.
The Voices Behind the Stars - A look at the various actors who voiced the characters.
Deleted Scenes - Two scenes, shown in their initial storyboarding phase.
Inside the Animals Studio - A funny little bit in which a few of the actors watch scenes and provide running commentary while in character.
Voice-A-Rama - See what the characters sound like with different voices and in different languages.
Wheel of Fortune: Forest Edition - A trivia game based on the game show, sans Pat Sajak.
Swept Away Scene Deconstruction - By pressing the "angle" button, you can watch the dam burst scene in all four stages of production, from storyboards to final lighting.
Ring Tales - Animated shorts drawn in the style of "In the Bleachers" the comic strip upon which Open Season is loosely based.
Art Gallery - Still pics of Open Season environments, characters and beat boards.
Boog and Elliot's Midnight Bun Run - An animated short featuring the main characters from Open Season.