It was a Saturday night, there was about 30 inches of snow outside, it was cold, and I was bored. So, searching for something to do, I discovered two of my roommates about to start watching the animated adventure Open Season. I had nothing to lose, so I joined them. Unfortunately, viewing the movie ultimately only confirmed my reasons for avoiding seeing films of a similar nature in the past.
For the last several years, the market has been severely oversaturated with CGI films. Now that the technology is developed enough to make production relatively cheap, and following in the wake of the blockbuster success of the early pioneers in the field such as Toy Story or Shrek, the studios have thrust upon us a heavy dose of family fun. They’ve begun churning out film after film with the same recycled materials, a talking animal here, a fresh twist on a fairy-tale there, tossed in a couple famous voice actors, and they’ve got a film that’ll sell tickets, in families of four at a time. I’m sure it’s cost-effective, but it has certainly diluted the quality of the movies. They’ve lost the charm and wit that made the initial trailblazers so popular in the first place.
All throughout the movie, I couldn’t help but continually notice just how stolen every device in the narrative was. First I saw Donkey longing for Shrek’s approval, then I saw Pacha and Kuzco from The Emporer’s New Groove learning to work together to struggle through their trials, then the relationships of Open Season’s two protagonists, a bear named Boog and Elliot the buck, simply devolved into the generic mold of any buddy movie ever made. The studio has just plugged two new faces into the equation, crossed their fingers, and hoped for another franchise.
The film did have some funny moments, especially from the bully Ian the buck, played by the eternally employable voice of Patrick Warburton, but there’s nothing overly memorable about anything in it; it has little staying power. I hardly cared a whim about any of the characters and every plot “twist” was visible from a mile a way. As well, the anthropomorphizing of the animals reached a ludicrous level. Naturally, it’s all in the attempt for a laugh and to give everyone something to relate to, but it became ridiculous. They played into more stereotypes than I may be able to recount. There was the sassy Mexican skunk chicas, the French WWII aviator ducks, the zany German Dachshund, the Oriental fish, the affable gentle giant African-American bear, the feisty Scotch squirrels led by their own version of William Wallace, the construction worker beavers, etc. etc. All they really ended up doing is to further perpetuate established classifications.
In the end, viewing this movie has just sort of saddened the state of the animated movie market for me; putting a face on long feared transpirations. The days of the 90’s golden era of Disney’s cartoon musical masterpieces are over (unless The Princess and the Frog gets a little more attention), replaced by a careless mishmash of mindless computer generated drivel. Unless the animated movie is labeled Pixar, who really does seem to care about quality, from now on I think I’ll pass it by.
What did you think of this review?