Grizzly bear Boog has an intimidating growl to prove he means business ... and that's about it. The domesticated mound of fur has been pampered by his surrogate mother, forest ranger Beth, for most of his life. As the star of Beth's nature show in the quiet hunting town of Timberline, Boog has his own cozy abode in Beth's garage, where he watches TV, sleeps in a pillowy bed with his stuffed teddy bear and, most importantly, gets eight square meals a day (plus snacks).
Boog's cushy life is turned upside down when he rescues Elliot (a misfit deer) from becoming just another buck on the wall of the town's mean-spirited hunter, Shaw. After a night of candy-carousing in a local store gets him in trouble, Boog goes after Elliot and unintentionally throws the audience of Beth's show into a panic. The result? He wakes up the next day in a strange place called nature.
Determined to find his way back home, the helpless bear reluctantly recruits Elliot to lead the way. But a major mishap ruins Boog's plans—and thrusts an entire forest full of animals into unfamiliar hunting grounds. With Shaw and a horde of trigger-happy humans hot on their heels, the beasts must rally together to ensure their survival.
Despite the havoc Elliot has brought, the self-centered Boog changes his ways and risks his own safety to save the deer's life, as well as others'. He also assures Elliot that he's not a loser and shares his food with the deer. The goofy buck ultimately returns the favor by keeping Boog out of harm's way. A couple of characters apologize for the effects their actions have on others. The entire group of animals comes together to ward off attackers.
Despite the close relationship between Beth and Boog, the human does the right thing at the urgings of a wise man and twice releases the loveable grizzly to his natural home. After seeing his eventual success there, she tells Boog, "I'm so proud of you."
A background chorus sings "hallelujah" when Boog finds a human toilet to use. Shaw mistakenly thinks a couple crouching in front of their pooch is involved in "dog worship." Elliot hums the first few notes to "Amazing Grace." Boog compares his domesticated life at Beth's house to heaven.
More than a handful of innuendo-ridden lines revolve around squirrels' "nuts." When a woman offers Shaw the scientific name for a creature she and her husband are searching for, the hunter asks, "Homo-what?" Boog talks about an irresistible candy bar being his "lady, smooth and creamy ... so bad, I shouldn't. But I will."
Elliot innocently straps Boog's teddy bear-turned-backpack around his waist, but it's played as if the deer were wearing a thong. When Elliot offers Boog a cookie from the pouch, the bear declines, citing its previous location. A woman misinterprets a comment about her dog and responds that "he can't ... [since] he's fixed."
Though cartoonish in its nature and mostly played as slapstick, the violence in Open Season is surprisingly vivid and frequent. In the closing credits, Shaw gets run over by a vehicle and is then tied to the top. The animators also capture him purposefully striking Elliot with his truck, and later we see him pursuing the buck while driving recklessly. More than once Shaw goes after Boog with knives and guns. Twice animals are shot, though in both cases what's being used doesn't cause serious harm. One of those scenes may be especially intense for young viewers and includes Shaw almost killing both Boog and Elliot, both of whom eventually get hit with tranquilizer darts.
A series of vehicles explode and burn in spectacular fashion. During a showdown played out as a Braveheart spoof, animals attack a group of hunters, kicking, trampling, biting, etc. Less humorously, Boog whacks Shaw with a golf club, and Elliot takes a bad spill during a scuffle. When a dam breaks, several animals and a human are tossed about wildly. Eventually, they all go over a waterfall. (Really, they do!)
When an angry Boog goes after the deer backstage at Beth's show, shadows cast through the curtain make it seem that the grizzly has brutally attacked Elliot and pulled out his innards—particularly when what appears to be blood splatters on the fabric. Boog later holds Elliot over the edge of a cliff. While the pair climbs a steep surface, the bear, unaccustomed to scaling anything, plummets from an extreme height and falls through several tree limbs. He finally lands on a needle-baring porcupine, which is later tossed in Elliot's face.
Elliot smashes a truck's headlight while escaping. An army of squirrels attacks Boog with nuts. Several other animals hit each other. Rabbits are tossed around like balls throughout the movie, often smashing into windows or trees. (The filmmakers jokingly remind viewers during the credits that "No bunnies were harmed in the making of this movie.")
Crude or Profane Language
Two apparent misuses of God's name and a couple of unfinished "What the ..." phrases. "Butt" is said a few times. "Crap," "pee," "dang," "crud" and other mild but imitable words are also tossed in, along with lots of name-calling ("knuckle-dragger," "tree-hugger," "freak," "idiot," "smelliot," "whack-job," "loser"). A character makes a play on words while describing "the same dang dam." When an animal states that they'll fight humans, another asks, "Did he use the f-word?"
Drug and Alcohol Content
After scarfing down a store-full of sweets, Boog acts drunk.
Other Negative Elements
An entire scene centers on animals going to the bathroom. After Boog passes gas and tells Elliot he needs to use the toilet, the deer recites a list of nicknames for his request ("johnny on the spot," "oval office," etc.). While instructing Boog to go in the bushes and "show us your grrr face," Elliot spontaneously "relieves" himself. The grizzly bear then attracts an audience while he's trying to go.
Boog vomits on a window, and we see the "contents." While riding in the back of a car, he slaps his behind to taunt a pair of hunters. He and Elliot break into a grocery store and wreak havoc, forcibly opening the cash register and throwing money into the air. Shaw crumples up and throws away a ticket written for his vehicle.
A woman's bras are shown hanging on a clothesline (which the animals use as slingshots). Beavers emerge from a battle holding several pairs of hunters' underwear.
What do you get when you mix elements of Madagascar, Ice Age, Brother Bear, The Lion King, Curious George and Over the Hedge in one giant animated pot? An assortment of cute, cuddly, attitude-laden critters who fall under the leadership of an unlikely hero who, in turn, just wants to go home but has to have help from his mischievous comic-relief sidekick. Whew!
With the catalog of animated movies expanding by the dozen every year, I don't necessarily fault the makers of Open Season for not having the most original ideas or characters. The genre is getting more and more competitive, and often, rising to the top means delivering the most laughs per minute with the slickest animation possible. So by those credentials, this cool-looking kiddie-oriented creation earns solid marks.
Why, then, did its crafters, knowing how young their core audience was bound to be, feel the need to venture so far out of bounds? Heaping helpings of potty humor, surprising language issues and a whole lotta played-for-laughs-but-awkwardly-realistic violence means Open Season isn't. It's like that old nursery rhyme, "Fuzzy Wuzzy wuz a bear/Fuzzy Wuzzy didn't care/Fuzzy Wuzzy wuzn't very nice to families, wuz he?"