Miscast lead hurts ‘Season’

By Stacie Wieland

“Open Season” is the story of Boog (Martin Lawrence), a grizzly bear who has been raised since he was a cub in the quiet town of Timberline by Park Ranger Beth (Debra Messing). He meets Elliot (Ashton Kutcher), a small, hyperactive deer who happens to be strapped to the hood of a truck that belongs to the biggest, baddest hunter around, Shaw (Gary Sinise).

After setting Elliot free, Boog soon realizes — for better or worse — Elliot won’t leave his side. After a series of unfortunate events, leaving a helpless convenience store completely destroyed, Boog and Elliot find themselves back in the wild two days before hunting season starts. Desperate to get back to the comforts of their beloved home, Boog and Elliot must work together to find their way back through the wilderness to Timberline.

While this movie aims to please the kid inside everyone, it misses the mark more often than not. One cause can be attributed to the disappointing voicing of the main character, Boog. Every other casting decision was spot-on, including the very surprising choice of Sinise who plays a rather dark character for a children’s movie. However, there was just something off in Lawrence’s performance. It seemed restrained and watered-down, and because of this, Kutcher steals nearly the entire film.

One thing that makes the movie worthwhile, though, is the supporting cast of the woodland creatures.

In particular, Billy Connolly who voices “McSquizzy,” a boisterous squirrel who, with the help of his army and an endless supply of nuts and acorns, is all too keen on protecting his trees from harm.

Despite what is portrayed in the film’s trailers, running the hunters out of the forest is not the plan all along.

In fact, the idea doesn’t present itself until about 20 minutes before the end of the movie.

The battle the animals wage against the invading humans is amusing enough, though it could have been longer.

In the end, “Open Season” is yet another animated feature about a domesticated animal trying to survive out in the wild — and that’s only mildly entertaining.