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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, July 31, 2014 - Edition No 908 

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OPEN SEASON

SYNOPSIS:
Since rescued as a cub by Timberline forest ranger Beth (voice of Debra Messing), grizzly bear Boog (voice of Martin Lawrence) has lived the life of a pampered, domestic pet. But when scrawny, fast-talking mule deer Elliot (voice of Ashton Kutcher) arrives in town, strapped onto a truck belonging to fanatic hunter Shaw (Gary Sinise), everything changes. Elliott talks Boog into helping him escape, and then leads him astray on a night on the town. Beth is reluctantly forced to relocate Boog to his natural forest habitat, but the local animals are decidedly unfriendly and the hunters are on their way to the forest for Open Season. There is no option but for the woodland animals to team up against the hunters.

Review by Louise Keller:
There's a grizzly bear who cuddles his teddy at night, a madcap deer with a sense of fun, plus a confident squirrel, a majestic stag, a couple of skunks, rabbits and ducks, who join forces to defend themselves against the season's gun-toting hunters. With its themes of friendship and belonging, Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher make a winning odd-couple combo in this animated family film that bounces with humour and resounds from its environmentally friendly issues. Yes, coffee and sugar are bad for us, and while there is considerable appeal about engaging with a domesticated wild grizzly hooked on television and toilet paper, there is never any doubt that he will find his way back to the environment in which he belongs.

Boog (Martin Lawrence) the grizzly bear is like a big kid. He may act tough, but it's just for show; he is happiest when cuddling his blue teddy Dinkelman at night, when curled up in his oversized pet basket. That's when his keeper (and surrogate mom) sings The Teddy Bear's Picnic, and he can drift off into bear dream-land. Elliot (Ashton Kutcher) the scraggy mule deer, however, is the complete opposite. A forest-wise survivor, he's a likeable rascal and when he meets Boog (with his comfortable, well-equipped garage home), he sees a life-style change for the better. I smiled as Boog and Elliot indulge in a sugar-overload at the local supermarket, but Boog learns there are consequences. The humour will appeal to kids of all ages, and even the toilet humour is innovative. 'Try a bush,' suggests Elliot to a horrified Boog, when nature calls and there is no flushing toilet nearby. And, the bush happens to be the home of a pair of skunks, who have no hesitation in letting their scent go forth.

The animation is pleasing and Billy Connolly gives a hilarious turn as a loud-mouthed, bossy squirrel, who has never heard the notion that size intimidates. The humour flows naturally with the story, and Gary Sinese's paranoid hunter is a hoot as he plays his rifle barrel like a guitar. There are plenty of surprises and witty innovations in this delightful family film that is the best of the season.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

OPEN SEASON (G)
(US, 2006)

VOICES: Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher, Debra Messing, Billy Connolly, Jon Favreau, Nika Futterman, Jane Krakowski, Gary Sinise

PRODUCER: Michelle Murdocca

DIRECTOR: Roger Allers, Jill Culton, Anthony Stacchi

SCRIPT: Steve Bencich, Ron J. Friedman

CINEMATOGRAPHER: n/a

EDITOR: Pam Ziegenhagen

MUSIC: Ramin Djawidi

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Luc Desmarchelier

RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 30, 2006







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