New on DVD/Blu-ray: Yogi Bear (2010)

Face it, kids (or former kids), sooner or later Hollywood will get around to making a live-action/part-CG movie out of all your favorite kiddie shows. Consider: “Alvin and the Chipmunks”, “The Smurfs”, and now, “Yogi Bear”. It’s a good thing, then, that I was never a diehard “Yogi Bear” fan, and it’s because of that lack of attachment on my part that I don’t really mind Eric Brevig’s “Yogi Bear”, now available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download from Warner Bros. Pictures.

Everyone’s favorite pic-a-nic basket-stealing bear brings his meal-mooching ways to movies in this live-action/CG-animated adventure starring Dan Aykroyd as the voice of Jellystone Park’s famed troublemaker Yogi Bear and Justin Timberlake as the voice of Yogi’s faithful pal Boo Boo. Jellystone has been losing business, so conniving Mayor Brown has decided to shut it down and sell the land. Faced with the loss of his home, Yogi must prove he really is “smarter than the average bear” as he and Boo Boo join forces with Ranger Smith to find a way to save the park from closing forever. Anna Faris, Tom Cavanagh, TJ Miller and Andrew Daly co-star in this wonderful new incarnation of Hanna-Barbera’s classic cartoon.

Movie Review:

I don’t care how many times I see it, I’ll never get used to CG animals running around interacting with actual living people onscreen. Add to that the fact that the CG animals never look especially real, or even real-ish, and it’s downright unsettling. For some reason, it always looked more “real” when the animals were obvious cartoon figures, like your “Who Framed Roger Rabbits” of the world. But hey, maybe that’s just me, since the kids I saw “Yogi Bear” with seemed to love it enough. Or a lot, actually.

“Yogi Bear” features the voice of Dan Aykroyd as Yogi, the famous “smarter-than-your-average bear” (though not by much, it would appear), and his pal Boo-Boo, voiced by former pop idol turned honest-to-goodness actor Justin Timberlake. (See him in “The Social Network” if you still think the kid is just a flash-in-the-pan wannabe actor.) “Ed” guy Tom Cavanagh plays the role of Ranger Smith, the curator of Jellystone Park, where the two talking bears feast on visitor picnics. All’s well in talking bear land until the evil Mayor decides to shut the place down in order to open it up to logging. (Hey, if you wanted less obvious villains, go watch “Michael Clayton”.) The possible demise of their home prompt human and bear to team up and fight back by way of a huge celebration to raise the needed funds to save the park. Helping them out is fellow live human Anna Faris, playing a gosh-darn cute filmmaker.

Yeah, it’s not exactly award-winning screenwriting, but then you probably already knew that. Right about the time you heard they were going to make a live-action/CG movie based on the “Yogi Bear” cartoon. To expect anything else is foolish.

For what it is, “Yogi Bear” is a pleasantly entertaining enough family film. Kids will no doubt love the Tomfoolery that goes on, in particular all the crazy stunts, gags, and predictable slapstick that takes place throughout. The voice work by Aykroyd and Timberlake sound spot-on to me, but then again, I’m no “Yogi Bear” expert. The best parts of the movie are actually whenever the bears take center stage. There’s just something so utterly ridiculous, and yet so right, about two talking bears running amok in a world occupied by live human beings.

Without a doubt, this is a kids movie for a new generation, and older fans may be instinctively turned off by that. But if you’re willing to give it half a chance, you might end up embracing this “Yogi Bear”, too. Worst case scenario? It’s a perfect way to share something you love with your kids. It might not be presented in a manner you necessarily agree with, but when you get right down to it, it’s still about a talking bear and his buddy Boo-Boo.

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Bonus Features:

  • Spending A Day at Jellystone Park
  • Yogi Bear Mash-Up
  • Looney Tunes Short: Rabid Rider
  • Are You Smarter Than The Average Bear? Game

Now available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download from Warner Bros. Pictures.