In 2006's release of Open Season, we were introduced to Boog (a domesticated bear kept by a park ranger) and Elliot (an insane deer with a bizarre antler issue where one keeps breaking off). Elliot decided to get Boog back to the wild and the dynamic duo went on an adventure that eventually led to Boog being dumped in the forest right before hunting season. The voice cast was outstanding and included Martin Lawrence (Boog), Ashton Kutcher (Elliot), Gary Sinise (Shaw, the hunter), Debra Messing (Beth, the ranger), Billy Connolly (McSquizzy, the squirrel), Jon Favreau, Jane Krakowski (Giselle, the doe), Patrick Warburton, and others. There was a lot of life in this movie from Sony Pictures Animation.
Now three years later, we're seeing a direct-to-DVD sequel that brings us back to Boog and Elliot in the forest. The voice actors have changed some from the original, but the characters are still the same wacky critters we left at the end of the first movie.
If you'll remember, Elliot fell in love with Giselle during the last film. Well, the sequel opens with Elliot and Giselle heading to the altar. And, as with most things Elliot-related, things don't quite go according to plan. During the ceremony, Elliot sees Mr. Weenie (Cody Cameron, who also voiced Mr. Weenie during the first film) get kidnapped by his owners. Of course, the gang can't just watch Mr. Weenie disappear. Elliot, Boog, McSquizzy, Buddy (the porcupine), and Giselle have to go rescue him!
Along the way we meet a bunch of other pets led by a toy poodle named Fifi (voiced by Crispin Glover). Roberto, Stanley, Charlene, and Rufus (voiced by Diedrich Bader) want to save their friend, Mr. Weenie, from the influence of "the wild"…but does Mr. Weenie really want to be saved?
The voice cast has changed slightly from the first movie. Boog is now voiced by Mike Epps, and Elliot is voiced by Joel McHale. I think they did a good job of capturing the unique natures of Boog and Elliot, but I have to admit I missed Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher in the roles.
I think focusing on a smaller group of forest animals let the story develop a bit more naturally, especially as we dove deeper into the relationship between Elliot and Giselle. Glover's Fifi was suitably creepy and gets his comeuppance eventually, but the character was more disturbing than over-the-top funny for me.
Ultimately I didn't think this was a bad sequel. I enjoyed it, though it did seem to drag a bit in spots for me – especially in the scenes with Fifi.
"Going Wild! With the voice cast of Open Season 2" was easily our favorite of the features on the DVD. It's great to see the voice actors in the studio as they record the dialogue for their characters. Some of them (like McHale) really get into it, jumping and jiving around the studio like they're truly acting out the part. Others are a bit more subdued, but it's great to see them talk about their roles and what they liked about the process.
"How to Draw Your Favorite Characters: Boog, Elliot, & Fifi" was fun and walks you through how to draw those characters. It's interesting to see the artist do it on the computer, but he breaks it down into simple enough steps that you can follow quite easily.
The "Open Season 2 'Who Let the Dogs Out' Music Video" was a bit weird. Throwing a bunch of clips together and setting them to the Baha Men's song "Who Let the Dogs Out" just didn't seem to work for me. Not sure if it was how they played with the animated footage or what, but it wasn't great.
The DVD includes three deleted scenes – "Forever AND ever?", "Reilly's Family Tree", and "Bald Spot". Each is done with some simple storyboarding. "Forever AND ever?" features Elliot and Giselle at the rut. "Reilly's Family Tree" is about a family of beavers and makes Elliot face the prospect of children, which was kind of funny. And "Bald Spot" expands on Fifi's bald spot and shows Fifi getting laughed at by the other dogs. It appears that the laughing pushes Fifi over the edge. Of these, only the last one really might have added something to the film. But it's interesting to see the work that goes into an animated movie ahead of the actual computer animation process.
And the "Wacky Weenie Arcade" includes five DVD games you can play with at home. Each game features one or more of the characters from the movie and allows you to play fetch, track a treat, go down a water slide, test your strength, and fix a hairdo. My DVD remote didn't cooperate much with these, but I can see where they'd be fun.
If you liked the first Open Season movie, Open Season 2 is fun and offers a bigger glimpse into the world of Boog and Elliot. Be sure to check it out!