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Open Season 2 (2009)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/27/2009

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/15/2009

There are genres of films that aren't my favorites and then there are movies which I don't look forward to watching. For examples, I typically don't like westerns, but I always try to watch them with an open mind. On the other hand, if there is one type of movie that I always fear, it's direct-to-video animated sequels. I can't think of another sub-genre of movie which has had as bad a track-record as these also-ran cartoons. The Disney sequels are amongst some of the most disappointing movies that I've ever seen, and they typically sully the good name of the original film. Because of these bad experiences, I now shudder at the thought of animated sequels. Thus, I approached Open Season 2 with trepidation.

Open Season introduced us to the characters of Boog (voiced by Mike Epps) and Elliot (voiced by Joel McHale). Boog was a domesticated bear who lived with a park ranger. Elliot was a mule deer who had been rejected by his herd. When the two met, Elliot convinced Boog to walk on the wild-side and this got Boog in trouble. Boog was then sent to live in the wild, where Elliot became his (incompetent) guide and Boog made many new friends, including an angry squirrel named McSquizzy (voiced by Billy Connolly) and Mr. Weenie (voiced by Cody Cameron), a Dachshund who ran away from his over-protective owners.

As Open Season 2 begins, Elliot is set to marry is girlfriend, Giselle (voiced by Jane Krakowski), when Mr. Weenie is dognapped by his owners, who have been looking for him for a year. Boog, Elliot and their friends pursue the dognappers, and soon learn that they are part of a caravan which is headed for “Pet Paradiso”, an amusement park for pets. The dogs and cats which make up this group are led by Fifi (voiced by Crispin Glover), a power-hungry poodle. This group is happy to have Mr. Weenie back amongst their ranks and don’t like the fact that this wild bear and deer are trying to take him back. Therefore, the always ignorant Elliot must try to lead his friends on a mission to rescue Mr. Weenie, while not standing out at “Pet Paradiso”.

Despite the fact that my children and I seem to see every animated movie which is released, we somehow missed Open Season, so I watched it in anticipation of doing this review. Having watched both movies back to back, I couldn't help but notice the unusually high amount of kinetic energy in the movies. It's not just that the movies are well-paced and there's always something happening, no, it goes beyond that. It feels as if there's always a character either running or screaming. And there seemed to be even more screaming in Open Season 2. Many critics and scholars often discuss the fact that most modern animated films aim for a wide audience -- they include subject matter for children, and yet there are jokes for adults. Not with Open Season 2, it's aimed squarely at hyper-active, ADD kids. The characters in this movie essentially get to live out every antsy child's dream, as they run about the woods, yelling at the tops of their lungs. There is hardly a moment in this movie where someone isn't screaming or falling down.

Now I'm sure that this doesn't sound appealing to some of you, but believe me, it's not that bad. I'd much rather see a movie with this much energy than a boring one. The movie's 76-minute running time flies by and it will definitely hold children's attention. To me, the movie felt like an old Waner Bros. cartoon...after it had drank several Red Bulls.

I also liked Open Season 2's story. In the first film, we saw how Boog had to choose between domestication and the wild, and here, Mr. Weenie is faced with that choice. There may be a world of difference between a bear and a dog, but we see their similarities in this story. I also liked the idea of the wild animals squaring off against the pets. If the movie has a downside, it's the characters. Most of them are simply too generic to be interesting. Yes, it's eye-opening for Crispin Glover to play a militant poodle, but even that character seems tired. I didn't really care for Boog in the first film, and he feels like a background player in this movie. I do like Elliot's enthusiasm and The Soup host Joel McHale brings a lot of energy to the role and sounds just like Ashton Kutcher. However, the character who steals the show is Roger (voiced by animator Sean Mullen), a stray cat who has a knack for saying things which don't match the situation. Every time Roger says something, it's a hoot.

Does Open Season 2 break the curse of the animated sequel? I don't know if I'd go that far, but it is a worthy follow-up to the first film. The animation is a bit lacking at times (this isn't Pixar), but the movie is very colorful and, again, it's energy is infectious.

Open Season 2 wants a girlfriend on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors are very vibrant and realistic, and the image is never overly bright or dark. The depth is very good (giving it a faux 3-D look) and the level of detail is notable (although, this shows us some of the slack animation). The Disc provides a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.9 Mbps. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. As with many family films, the subwoofer effects are kept to a minimum here, but the other effects are good. The stereo effects are nicely detailed, and really come into play when all of the characters are talking. The surround effects are lively and they enhance the action of the finale.

The Open Season 2 Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. "Going Wild! With the Voice Cast" (15 minutes) offers some nice side-by-side footage showing the actors performing their vocals, while we can also see the scene from the film. Each main cast member is profiled, and the actors are allowed to discuss their characters and their experiences on the film. We also hear comments from the filmmakers who talk about the cast and characters. (As a huge fan of The Soup, it was great to see Joel McHale jumping around.) The Disc contains three DELETED SCENES, which run about 6 minutes. These are presented as partially-animated storyboards, and the longest one is in color. The first scene is a true deleted scene which shows Elliot and Giselle at a meeting with other deer. The other extras are "How to Draw Boog, Elliot, & Fifi", a MUSIC VIDEO for the song "Who Let the Dogs Out" by Baha Men, and a set-top game, "Save Mr. Weenie!".

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long