Can you bear it? First Madagascar, then The Wild, and now Open Season, yet another CG cartoon about domesticated animals returning to nature. Our unhappy camper this time is pampered grizzly Boog (drawlingly voiced by Martin Lawrence), who's reluctantly dragged from his home comforts into a world of noise and chaos. Some tag-along parents will know how he feels, but their kids should be tamed by the slapstick, funky animation and potty-time humour.
Indeed, this scores highest when it aims low: the best joke sees onlookers aghast at the apparent sight of Boog clawing out deer sidekick Elliot's (Ashton Kutcher) intestines. That little gem's backed up by some of the finer poo and puke gags you'll see in a family movie this year. Some effort's also gone into the 'toony, zany visuals, which are closer to Madagascar's angular designs than The Wild's stuffed-toy look.
Such as it is, the story brings together bear and deer when the latter arrives in the mountain town of Timberline tied to the truck of hunter Shaw (Gary Sinise). Freed by Boog, Elliot returns the favour by leading him into mischief that forces forest ranger Beth (Debra Messing) to helicopter the pair back to their natural habitat. A buddy-buddy dynamic evolves, one that's amenable enough (despite Lawrence sounding half-asleep) but it's still a shadow of a certain green ogre and his donkey chum. There's a multi-species supporting cast, but none of them stands out bar the strangely Scottish squirrels. In the end, the hunter becomes the hunted; but wouldn't the animal rights message mean more if you actually cared about the critters?