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Open Season Review

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Boog (Lawrence) is a pampered bear who performs in a wildlife show with forest ranger Beth (Messing). When visiting deer Elliot (Kutcher) lands Boog in trouble, Beth reluctantly returns him to the wild. But with the start of hunting season, Boog and his n

★★★★★

The buddy-movie template proved a useful tool for Pixar, and has since become a model for CG-animated films from Shrek to Ice Age. But the patchy laughs of Open Season show that even the most dependable formula isn’t foolproof.

As the naïve, cosseted showbear and weedy deer, Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher are better than their reputations would suggest, with Lawrence toning down his usual schtick and Kutcher projecting a nerdy, neurotic charm. But they never quite gel as a pairing — and attempts to force their chemistry sometimes nudge the relationship towards romance rather than buddydom. They’re not helped by the stylised animation, a strange mix of realism, like Boog’s beautifully rendered fur, and all-out cartoonishness.

There are funny touches, including one stand-out scene where a young audience are traumatised as it appears (falsely) that Elliot is being messily eviscerated, and a running joke about Boog’s ability to do what bears famously do in the woods. The biggest laughs, however, come from the supporting cast, including Billy Connolly’s fiercely tribal Scottish squirrel, while big bad hunter Shaw (Gary Sinese) does his best to provide enough menace to fuel the lacklustre plot.

It leaves the leading pair feeling strangely superfluous in their own film.

Fatally lacking laughs and a real sense of adventure, this is a sporadically funny and awkwardly animated curiosity.

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