- Growing up can be a confusing journey fraught with difficult choices. Boog (Martin Lawrence) is a domesticated grizzly bear who leads a perfectly happy life inside of Park Ranger Beth's (Debra Messing) garage, but a chance meeting with an overly energetic mule deer named Elliot (Ashton Kutcher) quickly changes everything and lands Boog high in the forest a few days before the opening of hunting season. Devoid of even the most basic survival skills, Boog and Elliot stumble through the woods and find themselves at the mercy of every forest animal from skunks to chipmunks as well as an evil hunter named Shaw (Gary Sinise). After unintentionally inciting and endangering an entire forest full of clever animals, Boog and Elliot come to the realization that only by banding together do the forest animals stand a chance of outsmarting the hunters and ensuring their own survival.
Open Season is the first animated film from Sony Pictures Animation, and takes its inspiration from cartoonist Steve Moore (In the Bleachers) and features animals with human-like intelligence, a vibrant colour palate, and skilled animation that makes everything from the wind blowing Boo's fur to the animals' wild trip down the falls simply breathtaking. While it doesn't quite live up to Over the Hedge, Open Season is an entertaining production that explores the difficult process of maturation, the universal need for acceptance, and the true value of friendship. --Tami Horiuchi
Open Season, an animated action-adventure, follows the fortunes of two forest-animal misfits. Boog (Martin Lawrence) is a gentle and domesticated bear; Elliot (Ashton Kutcher) is an absentminded and accident-prone deer who has been shunned by his herd. Together, they struggle to adapt to the ways of life in the wild and on their own. Boog longs to return to the cushy conditions he had with Beth (Debra Messing), an animal-loving park ranger who rescued him and raised him as a pet from the time he was a cub. Desperate to please his new friend, who spared him from an overzealous hunter (Gary Sinise), Elliot tries to help lead Boog back to the mountainside town, but instead they are met with hostility by their fellow forest creatures, including a combative squirrel, McSquizzy (Billy Connelly); a perfectionist beaver, Reilly (Jon Favreau); and a machismo-fuelled deer, Ian (Patrick Warburton), who is Elliot's nemesis. Now, with hunting season upon them, they must all align to defend themselves against the hunters that annually plague their domain. While obviously geared toward kids, Open Season covers quite a few adult themes, including the comparison of man and beast. By pitting animals against hunters, the film operates from a pro-animal and pro-environment stance. It also conveys the importance of getting along with those different from ourselves, and encourages teamwork and acceptance of others.