A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Open Season is a 2006 animated movie in which a tamed bear who ends up in the wild finds his true place. This movie is rife with bathroom humor involving toilets, poop, farts, spit, snot, and underwear. Younger kids will laugh at the obvious stuff and won't get the edgier humor aimed at older audiences. Plays on words such as "nuts," "Mr. Happy," and "Mr. Weenee" are abundant. Without the benefit of subtitles, it sounds to some as if a squirrel with a thick Scottish accent is saying "f--k" when he's actually saying "bucktoothed." Much of the humor is also rooted in stereotypes of Scottish men and Latinas, as well as groups like hunters and hippies. Some little ones might find the hunting-themed images -- guns, deer strapped to the front of trucks, hunters swarming the woods for fresh meat -- a bit disturbing. There's cartoonish violence throughout. Animals do battle with acorns, porcupine quills, skunk spray, etc. A hunter in a truck tries to run over a deer he had kept strapped to his hood. This hunter is often shown shooting at the characters. A truck gets blown up with a propane gas tank; running gag about rabbits being abused (tossed about, thrown against windows). Also, a bear is shown behaving as if drunk after consuming too much sugar; he stumbles around and slurs his speech and acts as if he's suffering a painful hangover the next day. On the plus side, the movie might encourage older kids to put themselves in Boog's paws and consider what life is like outside their own neighborhood.
What's the story?
Martin Lawrence voices Boog, a domesticated 900-lb. grizzly bear who lives in a comfortable garage complete with a cozy bed, his own teddy bear, three square meals a day, and a TV he uses to watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Though he refuses to admit it, Boog is a "pet" bear; his owner is a kooky, loveable park ranger named Beth (Debra Messing). One day while out and about with Beth, Boog sees a mule deer strapped to the front of a hunter's truck. The deer, named Elliot (Ashton Kutcher), is actually alive, and begs Boog to untie him. Once free, Elliot barges into Boog's comfortable garage pad and quickly decides that the bear needs to be freed from "captivity." He lures his rescuer outside with a candy bar, and the two soon end up hopelessly lost in the woods. Boog has no bear skills whatsoever, so Elliot assures him that he knows the way back ... unfortunately, he doesn't have a clue. Meanwhile, hunting season is just around the corner.
Is it any good?
From some of the folks behind The Lion King and Monsters, Inc comes a zany animated flick about the oddest of couples, inspired by the work of cartoonist Steve Moore. Yes, the wacky-sidekick plot is tiresome, and if you're downright sick of CGI animal movies, you're not alone. But OPEN SEASON does have some funny moments. Lawrence and Kutcher have great chemistry, and the movie's messages about friendship, loyalty, taking care of each other, and finding peace in a violent world never go out of style.
With each adversity the bear and the deer face in the woods, Boog learns something about self reliance, and Elliot gains newfound self respect. Sure, it's been done before. But with a lively cast, colorful animation, and a storyline that moves along quickly, there are worse ways to spend a couple of hours. If you can get past the crude humor, Open Season is pretty funny. Parents may be bored, but kids will love it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of putting yourself in others' shoes. What if you went from a comfortable life -- like Boog's -- to having to fight for survival? Maybe that's a little weighty for younger kids, but they'll get the message that it's good to nurture friendships and lean on each other through tough times.
How are hunters represented in this movie? How might those who abide by the laws of hunting wildlife take offense to the portrayal?
Does the violence seem necessary to the story, or does it seem like it's intended to heighten moments of comedy?
What's a stereotype? What are some examples of stereotypes in this movie?
- In theaters: September 28, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: January 30, 2007
- Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Gary Sinise, Martin Lawrence
- Directors: Anthony Stacchi, Jill Culton, Roger Allers
- Studio: Sony Pictures Animation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Misfits and Underdogs, Wild Animals
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude humor, mild action and brief language.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.