Open Season Roger Allers, Jill Culton and Anthony Stacchi

The first feature release from newcomer Sony Pictures Animation, Open Season features the voice of Martin Lawrence as Boog, a domesticated grizzly bear forced to make his way in the wild even though he can’t, you know, "go in the woods.” The plot is G-simple: Boog and his buddy-slash-instigator, the mule deer Eliot (voiced with giddy fun by Ashton Kutcher), get into trouble in town and are exiled to the backwoods where they must find their way back to Boog’s comfy lodgings in the garage of a friendly park ranger’s house. Along the way, they meet a number of anthropomorphised stereotypes (i.e., bitchy Latina skunks), learn important lessons and literally dodge bullets. On their trail is chief antagonist Shaw (voiced by Gary Sinise), a hunter bent on bagging as many critters as he can during open season. The hunter thing is frankly a bit dark for kids and the humour tends toward boob jokes. For that, the movie got itself a PG rating. So who is this movie for? It’s not for little kids but it won’t really grab older ones either. I guess it’s a "family” movie, which, more and more these days, seems to be synonymous with "meh.” On the upside, Paul Westerberg contributes a number of not horrible songs to the soundtrack and the animation is okay. The extras on the DVD are further proof of the studio’s waffling relationship with its intended audience. There is a lot of extra stuff but who is it for? The commentaries and "making of” featurettes are for adult viewers. For the kids, there’s a Wheel of Fortune: Forest Edition game that’s hard to navigate and not much fun, and a music video consisting of scenes from the movie cut to a cheesy electro pop tune from some band called Deathray. The most fun to be had is with "Voice-a-rama,” a "swap out the voices” feature where one realises that Boog might have been funnier voiced by a pompous English guy instead of Martin Lawrence, whose input, he admits on one of the featurettes, amounted to "just say[ing] the dialogue.” (Sony)
(Arts & Crafts)