Upon its premiere, many moviegoers had never heard of Open Season. Poor advertising and lack of hype prematurely doomed it to flop. While the film just lived up to its mediocre reputation, it did provide a few unexpected laughs, as well as a chance to catch up on the familiar plot the movie shares with about four or so other recent releases.
Boog, the friendly bear protagonist, was oddly reminiscent of the main characters in other recent youth films such as Madagascar and Into the Wild. While the character himself was far from original, he did manage to develop a unique and endearingly naive personality that made him understandably attractive to most of the audience. Boog’s relationship with the clingy and even more confused deer, Elliot (appropriately voiced by Ashton Kutcher), also seemed a little too similar to the much more successful Shrek-Donkey duo, while at the same time providing a surprisingly endearing relationship story.
After the major characters were introduced, the plot took a tragic, while not unexpected, turn for the worse. Due to Elliot’s misguided actions, he and Boog ended up being sent into the “safety” of the wild by their granny-esque caretaker Beth. Their release is understandably painful as the duo is constantly rejected by their fellow forest-mates and violently pursued by one of my favorite characters in the film, Shaw, the blood thirsty recreational hunter. These forest scenes made clear the amount of credit that is owed to the film’s animators. The images and landscapes are surprisingly beautiful on their own, and are surely even more enchanting when enhanced by the 3-D nature of the various IMAX theaters presently showing this film.
While the basic plot of these two suburban dwelling animals attempting to find their way out of the wild is far from original, the characters themselves became surprisingly developed and likable by the end of the film. Their antics fill the movie with kid friendly comedy, as well as a scattering of slightly more sophisticated pop culture references. The forest gatherings themselves are relatively amusing, despite the overshadowing of slightly racist stereotypes. In the end, one leaves the theater feeling content with the movie’s stereotypically satisfying conclusion, and perhaps even a little surprised by Open Season’s ability to give the other recent animated escapades a run for their money.