Open Season (PG)

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The Independent Culture

Why is it that every cartoon that comes out these days has a squirrel in it? Open Season is the inaugural release from Sony Pictures Animation, but instead of marking out any territory of its own, the studio has followed in the tracks made by Pixar, Dreamworks, Disney and Fox, so here's yet another cartoon in which mismatched, jive-talking animals bumble through the great outdoors, much like the critters in The Wild, Madagascar, Over The Hedge and Ice Age. The hero is a grizzly bear, voiced by Martin Lawrence, which has been raised in comfortable captivity by a park ranger (Debra Messing). When it's finally returned to the mountains it isn't able to fend for itself, so has no choice but to buddy-up with a babbling deer voiced by Ashton Kutcher.

The animation is bright and crisp, there's a nice running gag about rabbits being nature's all-purpose gadgets, and Kutcher is more believable as a deer than he is as a coastguard. But you can tell a story is lacking in urgency when it devotes so much time to a bear having trouble doing what bears are famous for doing in the woods.