out of Five
Running time: 86
A promising first feature from newly formed Sony Pictures Animation, this is an entirely watchable comedy, providing you don't mind all the jokes being aimed at children.
What's it all about?
Martin Lawrence voices Boog the Bear, a large grizzly who has lived in Ranger Beth's (Debra Messing) garage since she rescued him as a cub.
However, when he meets scatterbrained, one-horned deer Elliot (Ashton Kutcher), the pair go on a sugar-rampage and Boog gets into so much trouble that Beth decides that it's time he was returned to the wild.
Stranded in the mountains, Elliot tries to help Boog get home, but they quickly discover he's not cut out for all this wilderness business, particularly when it comes to an attack-happy squirrel (Billy Connolly), an angry beaver (Jon Favreau) and a squadron of slap-happy salmon. And as if that wasn't bad enough, hunting season is about to start and a psychotic hunter (Gary Sinise) has already set his sights on Boog.
The gag rate is impressively high (especially the running joke involving general bunny abuse) and there are some nice touches, such as Boog's devotion to his teddy bear, Mr Dinkelman.
The voice cast are excellent. Kutcher, in particular, is very funny, whilst Lawrence proves much less irritating as an animated bear than he does in his real-life performances. Supporting honours are comprehensively stolen by Billy Connolly, but there's good work from Gary Sinise and the ever-reliable Patrick Warburton (as Elliot's stag rival).
The plot is dull and feels both underdeveloped and derivative. It also lacks tension and the supposedly emotional climax is unconvincing.
In addition, all the jokes are aimed at children and the film relies completely on lowbrow humour, although the bit about the bear being too shy to crap in the woods is admittedly pretty funny.
Open Season isn't particularly original or sophisticated, but the strong comic performances ensure that it's never less than watchable.