Open Season 2
Sony Pictures // PG // $39.95 // January 27, 2009
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted February 22, 2009
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While "Open Season" did reasonably well at the box office, I felt the animated film - which starred Ashton Kutcher and Martin Lawrence as a pair of animal buddies on an adventure in the forest - had some good laughs but wasn't terribly memorable. While I'm not sure there was a giant outcry for a sequel to the story of the original, we still get this direct-to-video sequel, which sees a few change-ups in the voice cast (instead of Lawrence and Kutcher, we get Mike Epps and - from TV's "The Soup" - Joel McHale) as the lead characters. Understandably, given the direct-to-video release, the animation isn't up to the standard of the first film.

Directed by Matthew O'Callaghan (2006's "Curious George"), the film focuses on Elliot (McHale)'s wedding to Giselle (voiced by Jane Krakowski). While he loves her, he can't get over the fact that he doubts if he's good enough for her. However, in the midst of all the nerves about the upcoming wedding, their pooch pal Mr. Weenie (Cody Cameron) goes missing, having been taken in by his former owner, who travels in a group of RV's. Still, while the reunion's a nice moment, the animals think their pal has been kidnapped.

Elliot sees a way to get a few more moments to think about his wedding, so he gathers the animals - including a squirrel once again voiced by Billy Connolly - together to go hunt for their lost pooch friend. Needless to say, things don't go as planned, and the animals end up going on a longer journey than they could have imagined. Still, Elliot gradually comes to some realizations about himself and his future with Giselle.

The picture offers a lot of slapstick humor and a decent enough story, but the screenplay falls a little short on jokes - the one-liners are mostly iffy, getting a chuckle at best. The film also seems a bit lacking in momentum - there's not much comedic action (although the budget may have limited the film) and the story has stretches where - much like the characters - it feels like it's simply wandering (while the film's running time is 76 minutes, it feels a bit longer than that.) As noted earlier, the animation isn't up to the standard of the prior film, and looks more like a computer game.

What saves the day are the performances: McHale and Epps do pretty decently as substitutes for Lawrence and Kutcher, although there are times when McHale sounds like he's trying to imitiate Kutcher. Connolly and Crispin Glover offer enjoyable supporting efforts, as well. The presentation doesn't have a great deal of personality, but the energetic performances mostly make up for that.

Overall, for a direct-to-video effort, this isn't without its positives, but it's clearly targeted more towards younger crowds than the all-ages humor of the first film.


VIDEO: "Open Season 2" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 1.78:1 (1080p/AVC). While the animation is more limited than the prior film, this Blu-Ray edition certainly presents the film in the best possible fashion. Sharpness and detail are impressive, as the picture looked rock-solid throughout the 76-minute running time.

While a couple of minor instances of edge enhancement were seen, the presentation was mostly pristine, with no other concerns to be seen. Colors remained bright and bold throughout the show, appearing well-saturated and rich, with no smearing or other faults.

SOUND: "Open Season 2" is given a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 presentation for the Blu-Ray edition. While the surrounds get some mild use for effects and light ambience, this is generally a "comedy mix", with the majority of the audio coming from the front speakers. Audio quality was fine, with crisp, well-recorded dialogue.

EXTRAS: "Going Wild With the Voice Cast" offers some basic interviews and behind-the-scenes clips. ""How to Draw Boog, Elliot, and Fifi" is a fun guide for how to draw the film's characters. We also get deleted scenes, interactive games and - oy vey - a "Who Let the Dogs Out?" music video. Trailers for other titles from the studio are also included.

Final Thoughts: "Open Season 2" offered a somewhat bland, forgettable story, but the performances at least partially made up for it. The Blu-Ray edition offers excellent audio/video quality, as well as a few minor extras. Fans of the original may want to give this sequel a try as a rental, but children are likely going to find it more appealing than adults.

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