Wednesday, 29 November 2017

COMPETING FILMS - Open Season (2006) vs Over the Hedge

Two similar films released at the same time... which is better?

Wildlife vs Civilisation Showdown

Two CGI films about wild animals at war with humans were released in 2006.  29 May 2006 saw the release of Over the Hedge, based on the Michael Fry and T. Lewis strip of the same name, while 29 Sept 2006, Open Season was released, based loosely on hunting based cartoons from Steve Moore's "In the Bleachers" cartoons.

Round 1

"Let's call it Steve!" ~ Hammy.
"Steve?" ~ Verne.
"It's a pretty name." ~ Hammy.
"Steve sounds nice." ~ Heather.
"I'm a lot less scared of Steve." ~ Penny, Over the Hedge.

  • Open Season - A hunting term, appropriate to the film's story.
  • Over the Hedge - The name of the comic strip the film is based on.  A play on the phrase "over the edge" and appropriate to the story of a wild animals crossing the hedge into the human world - win.


Round 2

"Shaw, open season isn't for three days. What is that buck doing on your hood?" ~ Gordy, Open Season.

  • Open Season - Boog, a pampered human-raised grizzly bear is returned to the woods where he teams up with a streetwise buck and other wildlife to go to war with hunters.
  • Over the Hedge - RJ, a raccoon, accidentally destroys a bear's junk food stock while trying to steal it.  With limited time to replace it he dupes a group of wild animals into stealing food from humans for him.
Both are solid story ideas but get disjointed and lose their way at times.


Round 3
Characters & Actors

"I thought you were dead." ~ Ozzie.
"I learned from the best." ~ Heather.
"That's my girl." Ozzie, Over the Hedge.

  • Protagonist - Boog the bear (Open Season) vs RJ the raccoon (Over the Hedge).  While Martin Lawrence's Boog is OK, he can't compete to natural charm that Bruce Willis brings to RJ - Over the Hedge.
  • Foil - Elliot the deer (Open Season) vs Verne the tortoise (Over the Hedge).  Gary Shandling is perfectly cast as Verne.  Ashton Kutcher works as the surface Elliot, but doesn't have the depth the animated deer does.  Elliot is more interesting but Verne is the better foil - Over the Hedge.
  • Villains - Shaw and the other hunters (Open Season) vs Vincent the bear and Gladys & Dwayne (Over the Hedge).  Shaw (Gary Sinise) is a strong if sightly overplayed villainous hunter, athough it is slightly undermined by the fact that he's right: the animals are acting like people.  The other hunters, mostly unconnected to Shaw are just generic victims.  Nick Nolte's Vincent the bear is underused and while played as a violent bully, is the villain because he wants RJ to replace what he stole from him.  Gladys the self-important image-obsessed president of the home-owner's association and Dwayne the exterminator are great comedy villains - tie.
  • Sassy female - Maria and Rosie (Open Season) vs Stella (Over the Hedge).  Wanda Syke's Stella is a character with depth and an arc, while Maria and Rosie are minor characters used for some comedy moments - Over the Hedge.
  • Comic relief - Various (Open Season) vs Hammy the squirrel (Over the Hedge).  There are a number of minor characters used for comic relief in Open Season, but none to level of Steve Carell's Hammy (even Billy Connolly's underused McSquizzy) - Over the Hedge.
  • Parents - Beth and Gordy (Open Season) vs Lou & Penny (Over the Hedge).  Beth (Debra Messing) is a well-drawn "foster mother" for the main character, with Gordon Tootoosis's Gordy working as a father-figure.  Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara, as always, work well together, this time as parents of some of the support cast - Open Season.
  • Others - Giselle and Ian, deer (Open Season) vs Ozzie & Heather (Over the Hedge).  The father and daughter of William Shatner and Avril Lavigne's Ozzie and Heather are fun characters with an arc of their own.  Giselle and Ian are supporting characters for Elliot who act how the story needs them to act without clear progression - Over the Hedge.


Round 4

"Not again. Dang it! Those things are so lifelike. Curse you, plastic moldsman." ~ Dwayne, Over the Hedge.

  • Open Season - A good first film (although Sony Pictures Animation formed from Sony's visual effects division Sony Pictures Imageworks).
  • Over the Hedge - Slightly better, but more that's only to be expected with their history.

  • TIE

    Round 5
    Animal behaviour 

    "It walks... like a man!" ~ Shaw, Open Season.

    • Open Season - Mostly defacto humans.  It's even a plot point when the main antagonist notices and become obsessed by the fact.  A couple of moments of animalistic behaviour, but that's mostly only of bear attack fake-outs.
    • Over the Hedge - Many of the characters show the occational animal characteristics - win.


    Round 6

    Family Friendly

    "Please, Vincent! I'm just a desperate guy trying to feed his family!" ~ RJ.
    "You don't have a family, RJ." ~ Vincent.
    "I meant a family of one." ~ RJ,
    Over the Hedge.

    A Kid's View

    • Thomas (9) - Open Season.
    • Olivia (8) - Can't remember.

    Adult Friendly

    • Open Season - Not much plot or humour-wise directly for adults, but the themes of leaving home and becoming who you are meant to be are more adult friendly - win.
    • Over the Hedge - Some adult friendly humour.


    Round 7


    "Once there was a magical elf who lived in a rainbow tree
    He lived downstairs from a flatulent dwarf who constantly had to pee
    One day the elf could take no more
    so he went to bang on the rude dwarf's door
    and what do you know, they suddenly both were marrrrried." ~ Elliot's version of Teddy Bear's Picnic, Open Season.

    • Open Season - Paul Westerberg's music is fine.  The use and misuse of "Teddy Bear's Picnic" makes sense.  Talking Head's "Wild Wild Life" lifts the film - win.
    • Over the Hedge - Ben Fold's music is fine, his revision of his own "Rocking the Suburbs" was a interesting move.


    Round 8


    "Okay, Forest 101: These tall stick things are called trees. The big rocks are called mountains and the little rocks are their babies." ~ Elliot, Open Season.
    • Open Season
    1. Hunting is bad. (Successful, if overblown)
    2. Growing up, responsibility and leaving homes. (Successful)
    3. The release of human-raised animals into the wild. (Undermined)
    4. Different animals are different racial and cultural stereotypes. (Non-deliberate, problematic)
    5. Bullying is bad.  (Undermined)
    6. Working together. (Successful)
    The film uses releasing a wild animal raised by a human as a metaphor for teens leaving home.  While growing up and leaving home message works well, it also implies that no matter how unprepared for the wild human-raised animals are they'll flourish.  While the hunters could be seen as bullies being punished, the animals, especially the male deer who bully the main characters not only go unpunished but demand (and get) help from their victims.

    • Over the Hedge
    1. Encroachment of humans on nature. (Mostly successful)
    2. Beware of those who will try to con you.  (Undermined)
    3. Over consumption by humans. (Partially undermined)
    4. Junk food is bad.  (Ambiguous or undermined)
    5. The importance of family, even non-related "family." (Mostly successful)
    6. Being cautious and taking risks are important.  (Successful)
    The film condemns consumerism and junk food consumption by humans, it is celebrated by the wild animal characters (to the point where consumption of an energy drink saves the day).  The animals do end up with nuts rather than junk for the winter, it's played as a punchline rather than the point.


    Round 9

    Moral victor

    "So I was just on my way down here to kill you, and I stopped to watch the show, and I gotta say... that right there, is a thing of beauty. That is the most vicious, deceitful, self-serving thing I've ever seen. Classic RJ. You take the food, and they take the fall. You keep this up, your gonna end up just like me. Having everything you ever wanted." ~ Vincent, Over the Hedge.
    • Open Season - First film for Sony Pictures Animation, which kind of makes them the little guy.  If Sony could ever be the little guy.
    • Over the Hedge - Made by DreamWorks Animation (who separated from Dreamworks at about this time) is the actual little guy.


    Round 10

    "Yuck. Yuck. Yuck! It's terrible and wonderful at the same time! It's like freedom in a cup!" ~ Elliot, Open Season.

    Box Office

    • Open Season - $197,309,027 Worldwide.
    • Over the Hedge - $336,002,996 Worldwide - win.


    • Open Season - $85 million budget, $112 million profit.
    • Over the Hedge - $80 million budget, $250 million profit - win.


    Rotten Tomatoes
    • Open Season - 48% (critics)/57% (audience)
    • Over the Hedge - 75% (critics)/71% (audience - win
    • Open Season - 49% (critics)/6.2 (audience)
    • Over the Hedge - 67% (critics)/8.2% (audience) - win.


    • Open Season - Spawned a short and straight to DVD 3 sequels - win.
    • Over the Hedge - A single spin-off short.


    Reader's Poll

    Even if you haven't seen both films, do the survey.

    Results So Far

    • Open Season - 6 (3 wins, 3 ties).
    • Over the Hedge - 7 (4 wins, 3 ties).

    ~ DUG.

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