Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

OPEN SEASON ON LAUGHS; Computer-Animated Cast of Wildlife Characters Is Lots of Fun

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

OPEN SEASON ON LAUGHS; Computer-Animated Cast of Wildlife Characters Is Lots of Fun

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT SOERGEL

To paraphrase a more pungent expression: Does a bear go to the bathroom in the woods?

Not if he's Boog, the amiable, pampered grizzly star of Open Season. Boog's been raised by a sweet park ranger since he was a cub, and he's gotten used to his comfy bed, his stuffed bear and, most importantly, the porcelain toilet just off the garage.

Now he finds himself deep in the woods, quite stricken about what to do without a bathroom around - until a chatty mule deer named Elliot shows him how, in a visual gag that's hilarious and, well, perfectly natural. It drew huge laughs from the audience I saw it with, from squiggly kids to their adult companions.

And so did the rest of the computer-animated Open Season, the first feature from Sony Pictures Animation, about a bunch of eccentric wildlife banding together to fight back against beer-drinking, truck-driving hunter yahoos.

It has a pleasingly warped sense of humor (almost Looney Tunes, at times). And, bopping along on a catchy soundtrack by Paul Westerberg, one-time frontman for splendiferous rockers The Replacements, it's unpretentious, unladen with goopy musical numbers or inspiring Life Lessons.

It also has a relatively low quotient of trendy, annoying pop-culture jokes - though it is hard not to laugh during a briskly staged battle scene when a feisty Scottish squirrel named McSquizzy rears up on the back of a bunny (I think it was a bunny, anyway) and bellows: "Freedom!"

Is there room, all these years later, for one more Braveheart joke? Sure, why not?

Open Season gets lucky with its vocal cast, beginning with Martin Lawrence's Boog, who's laid-back and awfully sweet, avoiding the wiseguy shtick so common in this kind of role. Ashton Kutcher doesn't overdo the goofiness as the goofy Elliot. Gary Sinise is appropriately menacing as a mullet-wearing, paranoid hunter, and Debra Messing is terrific as the kindly park ranger who loves Boog. …

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