If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I’m coming into this review of OPEN SEASON 3 at a bit of a disadvantage, inasmuch as I had no idea they’d even made an Open Season 2! Even though it went direct-to-video, I thought I might have heard something about it. Nope. Nada.
The original Open Season was…well, it just was. Not really bad or good. Inoffensive and entertaining enough, though ultimately forgettable. A Shrek-wannabe featuring a lovable brute protagonist (Boog the bear) followed by an annoying, four-legged sidekick (Elliot the stag) running reheated Looney Tunes gags and pop-culture references. Ultimately, it’s the story of Boog learning to let go of his pampered life as a pet bear for a more natural existence as a wild forest grizzly.
As near as I’ve been able to ascertain, in the second installment of the franchise we lose Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher as the principle voice-actors to have them replaced by the less expensive Mike Epps and Joel McHale (which I’m still having trouble imagining). And there’s a new pack of dogs added to the roster of recurring characters. Most notably “Fifi“, as voiced by Crispin Glover.
Open Season 3 kicks off with Boog excitedly rounding up all of his forest friends from the last two movies to get ready for their annual ‘guys trip’- aka, male’s retreat to the other end of the forest where they “can stay up late and talk trash”. Only it turns out everybody else has to bail on the plans due to their own responsibilities and family obligations, including his best friend, Elliot. Dejected, Boog goes on the retreat anyway alone (except for his favorite stuffed animal and a kidnapped rabbit) to deeply wallow in self pity.
In a different movie (especially one with the Pixar name attached) this would be a time of self reflection for Boog to examine the arrested development of his life’s trajectory or the paralyzing loneliness he feels as even the most incompetent of his associates has found a mate and sired offspring, whereas he has no options…
BUT here we move right along to the recurring gag of Boog destroying the area’s only convenience store to drunkenly gorge himself on pilfered junk food. During this he discovers a Russian circus just a few feet away.
The Russian circus’ star attraction is Ursa (unrecognizably voice by Gina Torres), a female grizzly bear who can effortlessly walk a tightrope, juggle and dance and Doug, a lazy, scruffy doppelganger for Boog who is tired of performing and looking to escape the circus in favor of a life as king of the forest. Doug even has his own sidekick, Alistair, a llama who is more of a whipping boy to Doug than the best friend he thinks of himself as. When they inevitably meet, Doug convinces Boog to switch his life in the forest for Doug's place at the circus “temporarily”, which Boog accepts. The deal is only sweetened by Boog’s discovery of the lovely Ursa, who he instantly falls in love with (C’mon, she’s the only female bear he’s seen in years). It’s win-win for Boog!
Only the whole thing turns out to be a scam since Doug has no plans to ever return. And to make matters worse, Ursa HATES Doug, ergo she hates Boog who she's convinced is Doug.
Meanwhile back at the forest, Doug- masquerading as Boog- flexes his bear muscles and begins a campaign of fear that forces all of the forest friends to kowtow to him like an African warlord. When his ruse is finally discovered the creatures mount a rebellion followed by an expedition to find the real Boog.
There’s also a third subplot crowbarred in where the dogs from the second movie happen to discover that Boog is ‘trapped’ at the Russian circus and they mount their own expedition to return him.
To round this out as a full-fledged ripoff of TOY STORY2, Boog leans how to embrace his new life: circus duties give his life some purpose; Allistair turns out to be a GREAT new best friend; and Ursa warms up to him. He’s pretty much ready to write-off his old life until he learns that the circus is next moving back to Russia. Ulp!
When the posse(s) of friends show up to take him back our hero must decide if he’ll slip back into the old conceit that wasn’t really working for him or go with his exciting new friends to be celebrated at the Toy Museum of Japan?…No!, er, uh, I meant OR will he go with his exciting new friends to be celebrated at the circus in Russia?
Being that this movie a second sequel and released direct-to-video, you’d expect there to be a big drop off in quality from the first Open Season, but there really isn’t. The animation (which still does the quick ‘n dirty on the rendering time) has no aspirations of going for Pixar quality, but it works and at times the palette is quite beautiful. None of the main voice actors are back (even the ubiquitous Patrick Warburton took a pass) but Matthew J. Munn does a fine job with double duty as “Boog” and “Doug”.
If there’s a breakout star here (and I’m really lowering the bar just for the level of this entire production) it’s Dana Snyder- whom you already know and love as the voice of Aqua Teen Hunger Force's ‘Master Shake’- as Allistair, the llama. His delivery of a cartoonishly thick South American accent would be hilarious without the constant spitting—but then there is all the spitting too! A bigger plus is that Allistair uses up all the screen time that would’ve gone to Elliot, whom I find way more annoying than likeable.
Ah, extras, schmextras! You get a lame little ‘avoid the rocks while driving' game on the extra DVD disc. The Blu-ray includes:
Much like the first one, Open Season 3 is “meh”, but a good “meh”. It’s too quick and painless for me to get down on how wholly unoriginal it is. If you were already want to see it don’t let me stop you nor encourage you to see it weren’t planning on it. However, if you wanted to, OPEN SEASON 3 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) can be purchased here.