The first effort from Sony Animation, Open Season is a redundant tale of talking furry animals in animated form. Its concept isn’t taken far enough, its story is dull, and the entire thing feels like it’s been done before.
Open Season is the tale of a spoiled rotten bear (voiced by Martin Lawrence) who inadvertently ends up in the wilderness with no survival skills. As is the norm for an animated critter feature, said bear has a wacky, fast-talking sidekick. This one is a deer (given a voice by Ashton Kutcher) rejected from his herd.
In the forest are all types of animals, each one cuter than the last. Every introduction tries to out-do the previous one, and by the time it's over, the movie is bogged down in forest creatures.
Open Season is two stories crammed into one for its brief running time. Where the first half pulls a reverse on the same concept seen in Over the Hedge, the second becomes a battle for survival against a band of hunters. Not enough time is given to explore Boog’s (Lawrence) adjustment to the wild. Gags are wasted for cheap jokes aimed at the lowest denominator when potential was there for something more.
The film is tired and unimaginative, by far its biggest flaws. Animation is clean and impressive, though hardly enough to carry Open Season. Not even the always excellent voice acting of Patrick Warburton can save this one from mediocrity.
Audio is sadly not up to par with the video. This mix is definitely sitting on the front channels. The forest is quiet and lacking ambience. Action scenes are flat. A few scenes offer a slight bass hit before tapering off. While mostly dialogue driven, there are still missed opportunities.
Boog and Elliot’s Midnight Run kicks off the extras. This brief animated short doesn’t add much to the experience during its four minutes of screen time. Two featurettes run about 23 minutes, and while they feel like standard promotional fare, there is some material worth watching.
Two deleted scenes last a whopping two minutes. Inside the Actor’s Studio has scenes commentated on by the “animals” themselves and discussing their experiences on set. An actual feature length commentary from the directing trio and producer provides standard information. Ring Tales offer animated comic strips for a little over a minute, a threesome of kids games are available if interested, a music video, and some advertising for Surf’s Up finish off the special features.
When the movie premiered in theaters, it came in at number one at the box office. A second Ashton Kutcher feature, The Guardian, came in at number two. Kutcher wasn’t even in the Open Season role initially as Will Forte was planned instead.