"Open Season," a movie about a docile grizzly bear's return to the wild at the start of hunting season, is a richly rewarding experience, bursting with christophanies and flowing with deep spiritual currents that will stir the soul and leave the contemplative soul with many new and interesting thoughts for days and weeks to come.
Set in and around the fictitious town Timberline, "Open Season" sets its sights upon a grizzly bear named Boog (Martin Lawrence), raised since he was a cub by a forest ranger. He has grown up, practically a pet, staying in the ranger's garage and performing tricks for her audiences as she presents lectures and shows on nature. Compelling metaphoric for modern humanity, Boog is bamboozled by the treats and easy life he has, unable to recognize his enslavement for what it is.
Rescue comes in the form of Elliott (Ashton Kuchner), a buck expelled from his herd for the crime of being different, whom a hunter (voiced by Gary Sinise) hit with and mounted upon his pickup truck. Elliott uses his apparent vulnerability to appeal to Boog, who severs the ropes that hold him.
This spiritual awakening, marked by Boog's first awareness of the needs of others, continues as Elliott leads Boog into town, and convinces him to revel in all that the world that he is so accustomed to, offers. Again, the very things that mark success and comfort in America are the things that make Boog sick, and the next day Boog, still ill from an orgy of self-indulgence, loses control at the show and must be tranquilized and transported back to the wild.
The metaphor continues as Boog, not realizing that he is where he belongs, continues to search for a way back to captivity, much as Scripture tells us the ancient Israelites longed for the chains of Egypt once they had tasted freedom. But Elliott, fulfilling his role as Christ figure, rejected by his herd for the sake of his righteousness, leads Boog ever deeper into the wild, hoping to awaken the true and lost self to the glories of his proper identity.
Tension in the movie comes as the hunter, cast in the role of Satan the Destroyer, continues to seek those he considers his lawful prey. Lesser hunters, mere demons, enter the wild as well, reveling in the destruction and slaughter of innocents that they can bring.
A near encounter with Satan the hunter awakens Boog to his need for a relationship with Elliott, and formerly having spurned his savior, he now returns and works to restore their friendship, reciprocating for the first time the selfless agape love Elliott has shown him.
The spiritual awakening, now continued, bursts into full flower during the deadly confrontation with the hunters. Although the lower demonic hunters easily are repelled, the captain of the fallen host is too elusive and mighty, and fires a deadly shot at Boog -- a bullet that Elliott takes. One is reminded again of the example of Christ, who "being in very nature God did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped, but became a servant; and being found in the form of servant, humbled himself and was obedient, even to death on a cross."
With Elliott's substitutionary death for Boog, the awakening is now complete. Boog remembers that he is a grizzly bear, and with the power and might of a grizzly bear, in Elliott's name he overpowers and defeats the mightiest of the hunters, disarming him and utterly destroying his weapon.
And now we find at this point that Elliott is alive, returned from the dead, and as the movie ends, clearly come to instate a new and heavenly period for the animals of the forest, one where they never will need fear the hunter, and one where the lion will lie down with the lamb, or even the doe with the bear.
No, not really. The movie sucked.