Genre: Live-Action/CG Animated Adventure in 3D
Director: Eric Brevig
Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake, Anna Faris, Tom Cavanagh,
T.J. Miller, Andrew Daly, Dean Knowsley, Nathan Corddry
RunTime: 1 hr 20 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Official Website: http://yogibear.warnerbros.com/
Opening Day: 23 December 2010
Park has been losing business, so Mayor Brown has decided
to shut it down and sell the land. That means families will
no longer be able to experience the natural beauty of the
outdoors-and, even worse, Yogi and his pal Boo Boo will be
tossed out of the only home they've ever known. Faced with
his biggest challenge ever, Yogi must prove that he really
is "smarter than the average bear" as he and Boo
join forces with Ranger Smith to find a way to save the park
from closing forever.
It’s easy to slam a movie like “Yogi Bear”- just talk about how simplistic the script written by no less than three writers; or how childish the antics are of the titular character and his cautious sidekick, Boo-Boo; or even how repetitive pic-a-nic basket stealing gets. Yes, they are all fair observations of this live-action adaptation of the 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoon, but I wouldn’t go so far as to criticise the movie for these very traits.
If you’ve seen the Saturday morning cartoons, you’ll find that this film actually stays extremely faithful to its source. In them, Yogi goes around doing perhaps one thing and one thing only- that’s right, stealing pic-a-nic baskets and thinking to himself how he’s “smarter than the average bear”- together with Boo-Boo, occasionally running into Jellystone National Park’s head ranger Smith who yells at him for disturbing the peace.
We used to laugh at Yogi’s foolish schemes (or at least I remember I did), so why is it so difficult to laugh at the same things all over again? Sure many of us who have enjoyed those cartoons may have grown up, but that’s not a fault of the film, especially when those in the audience who were of the age when we were watching the cartoons were obviously having a great time.
Around the regular pic-a-nic stealing, writers Jeffrey Ventimilia, Joshua Sternin and Brad Copeland have spun an eco-friendly story of the unscrupulous town mayor (Andrew Daly) who aims to sell off Jellystone to the loggers to cover the city’s deficit. Needless to say, it will be up to Ranger Smith, his love interest the nature documentarian Rachel (Anna Faris), and of course Yogi and Boo-Boo to save the day. Yes it’s simple but the plot is just serviceable enough to be the glue this live-action treatment needs.
Ultimately, the stars of the show were always Yogi and Boo-Boo, and in this regard, both the voice actors and the animators have done a wonderful job. Dan Aykroyd does his best Daws Butler impersonation for Yogi Bear, most impressive for nailing his character’s distinctive speech patterns. Just as outstanding is Justin Timberlake, clearly relishing the opportunity to disappear into the role of Boo-Boo, complete with the trademark nasal delivery. It’s especially interesting to think how Timberlake sounds so uncannily like the classic Don Messick.
Director Eric Brevig (of 2008’s “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”) keeps the gags flying fast and furious, so even if some of the supposed verbal punchlines fall flat, there is always something visually appealing to hold your attention. An Oscar-nominated effects specialist, Brevig makes great use of the stereoscopy to deliver all sorts of visual gimmicks- whether something flying in your face or hurling you along- but it adds nicely to the fun.
And that’s one word that sums up what it’s all meant to be about- “fun”, good clean harmless fun like how the cartoons were 40 years ago, and a trip down memory lane for those who have seen the originals. There’ll be many tempted to ride the wave of criticism surrounding this movie, but if you know what you’re in for, then “Yogi Bear” should just be the perfect family entertainment this holiday season.
(Not smarter or dumber than the average family movie, Yogi Bear is perfectly good, clean and harmless fun that the whole family can enjoy)
Review by Gabriel Chong