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'Yogi Bear' review (2 ½ out of 5).

 Comment on 'Yogi Bear' review (2 ½ out of 5).

If Yogi Bear is your chance to take a batch of little kids to their first 3-D movie, by all means, go ahead and have at it.  They’ll probably have a lot of fun.  Its three-dimensional bits (Yogi’s pilfered picnic basket breaking open and its contents flying everywhere; a slimy tree slug shooting out of Yogi’s nose) are straight out of Cartoon 101, and when they’re done in 3-D, they’re sure to make kids giggle.  In a good way, they’re childish comedy bits.

You of course have seen Yogi Bear cartoons and you’ve seen all kinds of 3-D by now, so there’s not that much new here for you.  As someone with a name a lot like the title character once said:  “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

Well, it’s not quite déjà vu because this modern take won’t have the nostalgic charm of a Hanna-Barbera Yogi Bear cartoon that you can still catch if you flip on the Boomerang cable network.  Yogi and sidekick Boo Boo have been turned into three-dimensional figures inserted into our flesh and blood 3-D world.  They are impressively detailed so that you can count each bit of hair in their fur.  They walk and talk and interact with live human beings including Anna Faris and Tom Cavanaugh.  But ironically, despite their lifelike appearances, older fans know this isn’t the “real” Yogi and Boo Boo.

Sadly, the film doesn’t spend enough time with the Yogi Bear template – a walking, talking thief who is “smarter than the average bear.”  The cat-and-mouse game that is the foundation of your Yogi Bear cartoon is this: Yogi tries to steal the picnic baskets of unsuspecting visitors at JellystoneNational Park, while the amiable Ranger Smith tries to stop him.  We want to see the hijinks that ensue.  Do we want to see the private life of Ranger Smith?  Not really – yet Yogi Bear spends a lot of its short running time with Smith, played by Cavanaugh.  It’s concerned with his budding romance with documentary filmmaker Faris, his partnership with the bumbling Ranger Jones, and his struggle against the evil mayor who’s trying to shut Jellystone down.

The Ranger Smith story won’t be over kids’ heads.  It’s told simply enough, and the actors play it very much like they are acting for little kids.  But you watch what happens when you pop in the DVDa couple of months from now:  the kids will play with their toys while Ranger Smith is onscreen and pay attention again when Yogi and Boo Boo show up.

Yogi and Boo Boo are voiced respectively by Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake, who each do perfect impressions of the classic bears (the original Yogi was voiced by the prolific voiceover artist Daws Butler, who was also the voice of Hanna-Barbera’s Quick Draw McGraw and Huckleberry Hound;  Boo Boo was Don Messick, who was also Scooby-Doo and Papa Smurf).  Their selection must be strategic – they are well-known figures to two generations of fans, and advertising their involvement could fill up theatre seats.  But ironically, they’re kind of wasted.  They do such good impressions of the classic voices that they’re unrecognizable.  As far as you’re concerned, they could be anybody.

The target audience of little kids though won’t know anything about The Coneheads or “SexyBack” though, so they won’t feel ripped off.   To you though – it might feel like Warner Bros. made a quick little 3-D movie based on a beloved retro character to sucker you into the theater (interesting they made this half-tribute to a Hanna-Barbera property while leaving the iconic characters more closely associated with WB like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck alone).  If your kids laugh, great: remember the feeling.  But in the back of your mind, try to remember the feeling you have leaving the theater if down the line they decide to follow-up with a Snagglepuss movie.

Genre/s: Animated   Family   Comedy
Release Date/s: 12/17/2010  (Showtimes & Tickets )
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production Company: A Warner Bros. Pictures presentation of a Sunswept Entertainment/De Line Pictures Production, in Association with Rhythm & Hues
Official Site: Visit the Official Site


Starring: Dan Akroyd, Justin Timberlake, Anna Faris, Tom Cavanagh, Andrew Daly, , Nathan Corddry and T.J. Miller
Directed By: Eric Brevig
Written By: Jeffrey Ventimilia, Brad Copeland and Joshua Sternin
Produced By: Donald De Line and Karen Rosenfelt

Yogi Bear Andrew Haas
Yogi Bear Donald De Line
Yogi Bear Eric Brevig

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