Saturday, September 30, 2006

Open Season

Before I go any further, a word in defense, if I may, of traditional film critics, a species as much endangered as the hunters in "Open Season."

As late as Tuesday morning, I was leaning toward seeing "School for Scoundrels" and just saying no to both of Ashton Kutcher's movies this week. Then I read Roger Moore's rather glowing review of "Open Season." Mr. Moore, who reviews movies for the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, is, for my money, the best critic working today. In his review he dropped two magic words: "Chuck Jones." With that, I was hooked.

And I must say, for the most part, he was dead right; "Open Season" often does have the same manic spirit that drove the old "Looney Tunes" classics.

For anyone unfamiliar with the "plot," I'll break it down very quickly. Boog, a domesticated bear, befriends a young buck named Elliott, who leads him into trouble. Boog is forced to go into the wild, where the two of them rally the various woodland creatures in defense against the hunters coming for "Open Season." Terribly familiar? Yes, but often fun nonetheless.

Martin Lawrence works best for me when you don't actually have to see him, and he has a voice tailormade for comedy. Kutcher, on the other hand, just sounds like Bobcat Goldthwait throughout, and had me wondering why Boog didn't just eat him at the onset. Of the supporting animal cast, reliable hands Billy Connolly, as the leader of a band of Scottish (naturally) squirrels, and Patrick Warburton as the king buck are very funny.

The rather obvious messages about working together and not shooting animals (two things that are A-OK in my book) are never beaten into the audience. Whereas "Cars" ground to a halt in the middle as Lightning had to learn how to act right, our critters here manage to adapt without stopping the action for too long at any point.

How are the jokes? For the most part fit for all audiences. Given the Scottish squirrels, I suppose the "Braveheart" bit was kind of obvious but still worked for me.

There was one jarring bit near the end that I'll give away (at least I warned you.) At the end, as Boog and Elliott are sharing a bit of male bonding, Elliott blurts out "bros before does." As I was laughing louder than I probably should have, I heard the young fellow behind me, who had until that point been laughing just as loud, ask his mother "what does that mean?" Luckily for her, when she didn't respond, he quickly let it go.

It does make you wonder why they would put a joke like that in a PG movie, but nothing shocks me nowadays. Soon enough, that youngun will be old enough to get it, but hopefully I'll never be too old to enjoy silly but fun flicks like "Open Season."


Anonymous said...

Silly is just what I need right now. But I was very disappointed with Over the Hedge - how does this compare to that?

Reel Fanatic said...

If you didn't like Over the Hedge, Emma, I can't say I'd recommend this one ... This summer, there have been only three animated flicks I've really liked, these two and Monster House

Anonymous said...

Told ya it was funny! ;-) lol.

lastonehere said...

I was on the edge, but you pushed me over. I am going to add it to my netflix.

RC said...

wow, did not expect your glowing review of this film...go figure!

Reel Fanatic said...

I run hot and cold on animation, RC .. there's clearly way too much of it on the market, and since this had been advertised for what seems like at least a year, I didn't have high hopes .. it's always nice to be surprised

sanchapanzo said...

hmm.. guess it will be sometime before this movie hits Indian-shores..

Anonymous said...

Sounds very interesting. You got my attention with "Chuck Jones" too. It sounds worth checking out.

Thanks for the tip, and your comment on my blog.

Carrie Lofty said...

In Madagascar, producers intentionally left in the line Chris Rock says when he puts a rectal thermometer in his mouth - something like "Mother--!" - just so they could get a PG rating (as opposed to a G). In the UK, the line was left out so they could get a U (universal) rating. I guess in this country, PG sells better than G...

Reel Fanatic said...

It didn't offend me at first, Salome, (obviously since, like I said, I did laugh at first) ... I just wonder where the line between double entendre and just plain inappropriate is for kids

Anonymous said...

Theatre (Professional)

TacoDave said...

I took my two kids to see it yesterday. They're 3 and 5 and they both really liked it.

I, for one, could have done without the "Hunters are evil" message, but oh well. I simply explained to my kids after the flick that hunters are not bad people and in fact, their grandpa goes hunting every year.

Other than that, I was surprised by how much I liked it. Especially the scene where it looked like Boog was ripping out Elliots guts... That was funny.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm glad you liked it, Taco Dave .. I don't have a real problem with hunters either, but there had to be a bad guy, and that worked for me

Anonymous said...

Well, I was going to skip this one too, but I think you convinced me...and the fact that I can see it in IMAX 3D.

Kory said...

I wasn't sure about this one, but just like you when I read "Chuck Jones" my interest boosted up. Thanks for stopping by over at my site, I really like your stuff here.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks, Kory ... I try to post often, so please stop by any time!

Karen said...

I don't see "bros before does" as offensive in any way -- "friends before girlsfriends" as it were. I mean it could be stretched into something worse -- but I highly doubt that was the intention at all -- or are you saying even this innocent meaning is too much for a kids flick? They know about boyfriends and girlfriends.

Anonymous said...

Woohoo! I'm excited to see this one. It looked like it would be fun!

Reel Fanatic said...

I guess maybe I just listen to too much hip-hop, Karen ... I assume what they were parodying was "bros before hos," which I would think any parent wouldn't want their kids to latch on to very early in life

Karen said...

Hmm, I don't listen to rap or hip-hop so maybe I'm wrong -- is that a very big song? I wouldn't think that's what they were referring to -- I would have though "friends before girls" -- just ebcause does rhymes with hos doesn't mean thats the referrence -- could just be a coincidence. Or maybe you're right and I'm wrong -- like I said, I don't know the song.

Reel Fanatic said...

It's not so much a specific song, Karen, as it is the way women are portrayed in hip-hop music overall .. but, like I said earlier, no kid probably got it anyway, so I was probably just overreacting

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