Yogi Bear (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
23Mar/110

Yogi Bear (2010)

Andrew INDIFFERENTOn the classic animated character totem pole, Yogi Bear is on the fourth tier of the memorability spectrum.  It was never for lack of trying, I could see Wallace (of Wallace and Gromit fame) admiring Yogi Bear's optimism at trying to get the next meal.  But none of Yogi's stories ever really played out past the whole "I'm hungry and need a pic-i-nic bas-ket" level of comedy.  Sadly, we live in a world where less inspiring comedies with even less motivation to be original (see Danny's review of Paul for an example there) can make millions of dollars.

So it comes as no particular surprise that it was Yogi Bear's turn on the movie-making block to star in his own feature length film.  I'm a bit startled that I didn't hate it, and there were actually a few moments that made me laugh out loud.  But the whole thing is, at best, a thirty minute flick stretched out to a flat seventy two minute (plus credits) film.  The script is anemic and the animators never did quite figure out how to make Yogi and his bowtie-wearin' pal Boo-Boo interact with the world properly, but it's a hell of a whole lot better than something as lifeless as Marmaduke.

The plot is particle-board thin and can barely support the run-time.  Yogi (voiced by Dan Aykroyd) and Boo-Boo (voiced by Justin Timberlake) are annoying the campers of Jellystone Park by stealing their food.  This is of great annoyance to Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh).  He's got his own problems without having the deal with the bears.  There's the optimistic and dedicated Ranger Jones (T.J. Miller) who keeps getting in his way, the lovely Rachel (Anna Faris) spurring on his shyness and some shenanigans from the evil Mayor Brown (Andrew Daly).

Tom Cavanagh plays Ranger Smith like daily encounters with two talking bears is barely (hah!) worth getting out of bed for.

The Mayor, like any good political figure in an live-action adaptation of an animated kids classic, is facing budget issues and figures that Jellystone Park is worth more as a lumber plant than as a place of beautiful nature.  So he gives Ranger Smith a week to come up with the $50,000 (because it's always $50,000) needed to save the park.  Yogi gets involved, hijinks ensue, and the park is brought disastrously close to closing.

Now, as opposed to Marmaduke, it's clear that someone involved in the production of Yogi Bear gave some kind of a damn.  The animation of Yogi and Boo-Boo isn't terrible and their expressions occasionally made me smile, but problems became abundantly clear when they're interacting with the "real" actors.  It seems like the animated figures and humans were never given proper direction about how to interact.  There are a lot of moments where Cavanagh's hands seems to go through the animated Yogi, or when something Yogi built is supposed to connect with the "real" world and the impact is never quite felt.

Then there's the matter of the plot, which has been recycled again and again from far superior Mickey Rooney or 50's beach party movies.  We're introduced to the central conflict barely 20 minutes into the movie and by the time various sub-plots and romances kick in we're only 30 minutes in.  So the various chase sequences and wacky moments involving Ranger Smith stretch on far beyond the tolerability point.  If they had edited this down, tightened up the jokes a bit and gotten someone less anemic than Tom Cavanagh to play Ranger Smith then my rating might be a bit higher.

Yeah, I smiled at this.

I dug the sometimes goofy animations and facial expressions of Yogi and Boo-Boo and there isn't really anything wrong with Aykroyd or Timberlake's vocal performances.  Really it was the Mayor that got those laughs out of me.  Sure he's a bit broad as a target (neither Democrat nor Republican here, just dumb) but watching him and his assistant struggle to figure out automatic windows was a nice bit of physical comedy.

So Yogi Bear isn't nearly as bad as some folks might want it to be.  If you have really small children that don't know any better than they might be entertained by it.  Just don't be the one responsible for putting it into the DVD player because at the very least dear reader, you should know better.

Yogi Bear (2010)
Directed by Eric Brevig.
Screenplay by Brad Copeland, Joshua Sternin, and Jeffrey Ventimilia.
Featuring the vocal talents of Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake, starring Anna Faris and Tom Cavanagh.

Posted by Andrew

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