Sony // 2011 // 75 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // January 23rd, 2011
Boog and Elliot are back and the fur is going to fly!
In the interests of full disclosure, I should inform you that I've only sort of seen the original Open Season. I saw it on a bus filled with screaming children, which means that I was rather distracted and sometimes couldn't hear what the characters were saying. From what I was able to gather, however, it was a fairly mediocre animated flick in which a bunch of forest animals engaged in battle against some evil hunters. Okay. Somehow, I missed the straight-to-DVD affair Open Season 2, but I was able to make my way through Open Season 3 without too much trouble. Well, I didn't have trouble in terms of understanding what was going on, anyway. I did have trouble in the sense that I kept wanting to hit the "stop" button. Even at 75 minutes, this thing was pretty tough to get through.
This time, Boog the Bear is preparing for his annual Guys Trip with all the other guys in the forest. Unfortunately, everyone is bailing on him this time, even his much-loved friend Elliot the Deer. Irritated and saddened by this turn of events, Boog takes off and decides to have a trip by himself. During his travels, he encounters a Russian circus, where he meets a beautiful female bear named Ursa. Recognizing Boog's arrival as an opportunity to break free, the villainous circus bear Doug decides to trade places with Boog and become dictator of the forest where all of Boog's friends live. When Elliot and the others discover that Boog is missing, they decide to stage a rescue mission.
This tiresomely predictable tale exemplifies everything that's wrong about straight-to-DVD animated sequels to big-budget mainstream films: the plot is utterly predictable and rehashes a lot of beats from the original effort (of course the whole thing ends with a giant battle), the major voice actors have been replaced by poor substitutes (Boog has gone from Martin Lawrence to Mike Epps to Matthew J. Munn over the course of the three films, while Elliot has gone from Ashton Kutcher to Joel McHale to Matt Taylor) and the quality of the animation has dropped dramatically (most of the visuals are on the level of a video game or one of those cheap CGI Saturday morning TV shows).
The worst scenes are those involving a new group of characters; some quirky cats and dogs who help out in the rescue effort. All of the voice actors playing these characters (a group which includes Crispin Glover) seem to be in a contest to see who can came up with the most grating vocal characterization. It's the sort of over-the-top silliness that might make a two-year-old laugh for ten seconds, but it's awfully irritating to listen to.
Naturally, the usual generic life lessons are onhand for the kiddies. In this instance, the message is that you should be sensitive to the needs of your friends and be there for them when they need you. That's nice, I guess. I've got little else to say about this one. It's the sort of film where the words "The End" are superimposed over a character's butt. I can see why some parents might want to pick this up as a 75-minute babysitter, but there are so many better options out there.
The DVD transfer is fine, offering bright colors and solid detail (though this only accentuates how cheap the animation is). Audio is fine, with the sugary score blending nicely with the dialogue. Supplements a progression reel and an interactive "Runaway RV" game.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Progression Reel
* Interactive Game