Open Season
PG
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: +1/2

Voices: Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher, Debra Messing, Gary Sinise. Animated comedy. Written by Steve Bencich, Ron friedman, Nat Mauldin. Directed by Roger Allers and Jill Culton.

FILM SYNOPSIS: This animated action-adventure comedy concerns the upsetting of a tame grizzly bears tranquil world. Boog (Martin Lawrence) saves Elliot (Ashton Kutcher), a fast-talking one-antlered deer, from a hunter. Trying to return the favor, Elliot attempts to free Boog from his idyllic existence, only to have things quickly spiral out of control. The two suddenly find themselves relocated to the wildjust three days before open season.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Youve heard me say, This is a hit-and-miss film. But actually, most films are hit and miss -- first, because it is a collaborative art form where a movies success depends on each and every artist and technician doing his or her best, along with the studio second guessing the tastes of a fickle movie-going audience. And second, for those seeking to develop their spiritual walk, the film needs to adhere to biblical principles before it totally satisfies. Or at least not abuse our beliefs. With todays moviegoers willing to accept profanity and movies frequently mocking Sunday School teachings, its especially difficult for Christians to find fulfilling cinema fare.

Im afraid Open Season also fits into the hit-and-miss category. There are some funny quips and visuals, but it feels like everybody ran out of steam and all at the same time. The screening audience consisted of ten or so critics and a theater full of parents with children and neighbor children. And many of those kids were under the age of five. Im not sure why I kept hearing different kids crying throughout the theater. Were they bored with all the intermittent slow-moving montages and sappy songs? Or was it the growing scariness of the hunter who was determined to run over, shoot or slice up every little talking animal in his path? Im not sure. I can only tell you why I began to wail.

Its the umpteenth animated film Ive sat through this year. Cars and Over the Hedge were terrific, but so many were made simply because of the success of other animated films. Some must think that its the animation audiences love. Maybe thats so for little ones, but us big kids are mesmerized by cleverness (Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, The Incredibles).

There was a great deal of restlessness on the part of the audiences littlest attendees. But come to think of it, we were all a bit restless. As I said, there were some laughs. After all, everyone involved knows his or her way around a funny gag. But there is no sharp wit or satire in Open Season. Its funny at times, coarse at others, but mostly it merely sucks up time, much the way an empty box does for a toddler.

Try my video alternatives. For little ones and their parents, The Adventures of Milo and Otis. Dudley Moore amusingly narrates the funny and heartfelt adventures of a puppy and kitten who stray away from the family farm.

For older viewers: The Bear. It follows an orphaned bear cub and his new protector, a huge Kodiak. The Bear is simply a captivating, humorous look at the daily life of these two mammals. The film takes place in 1885 British Columbia, with stunning, often breathtaking photography and locations and some truly touching moments. Caution, there are a couple of frightening scenes. Hunters are after the Kodiak. Dogs and horses are wounded by the bear when he is cornered. But no animals were actually harmed during filming. I believe little ones can handle it if parents are there to reassure. Standout moment: an unprepared hunter comes face to face with his quarry. After some rather loud roaring, the huge mammal takes pity on the frightened hunter and walks away. Later, the bear is also spared.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Sony Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: The pampered bear keeps looking for a toilet in the wilderness there are several crude jokes dealing with bowel movements. At one point, we actually see the deer pooping. Its a funny scene, but coarse. Also, at one point there is a sexual innuendo concerning a squirrels nuts.
Obscene Language: None.
Profanity: None.
Violence: There is some slapstick peril, but the mean hunter gets scarier as the film progresses. He shoots at the animals and he wields a Bowie knife. Animals are thrown around, our heroes are thrust into a swift moving current after a huge dam breaks, and the hunter tries to run some down in his truck. There are gun shots, explosions and evil hunters stalking little animals.
Sexual Intercourse: None.
Nudity: None.
Homosexual Conduct: None.
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: A couple of sexual innuendos.
Drug Abuse: None.
Other: None.
Running Time: 86 minutes
Intended Audience: Kids older than five and suckered parents.

Copyright Preview Family Movie Review (www.previeoOnline.org)