Directed by: Eric Brevig | 83 minutes | animation, comedy, adventure | Original Voice Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Christine Taylor, Justin Timberlake, Tom Cavanagh, Anna Faris, Nathan Corddry, Andrew Daly, Dean Knowsley, T.J. Miller, Jennessa Rose, Barry Duffield, Tom Kay
After “Scooby Doo” and “The Flintstones”, Hanna-Barbera’s “Yogi Bear” has also been put into the time machine and turned up as a feature film in the present day. In 3D, of course, and not fully animated this time: the bear who is smarter than ordinary bears appears next to real actors on the silver screen. Boyfriend Boo-Boo and Ranger Smith, with whom Yogi Bear has had a love-hate relationship for years, are also present. After all these years, the formula still works and the funny but also annoying bear is still able to entertain children.
Watching parents who still know Yogi Bear from the cartoon series will find reassured that the bear, despite its CGI appearance, has hardly changed inside. He is still obsessed with stealing the food from the park visitors and is still assisted, if reluctantly, by his little bear friend Boo-Boo. Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh) tries to steer Yogi back straight with a final warning, but is soon distracted by the arrival of blonde documentary filmmaker Rachel (Anna Faris) to Yellystone Park. Rachel has just spent time with gorillas, but would like to make a documentary about Yogi afterwards, because a talking bear is very rare. The fact that she is actually the only one in the story who finds Yogi and Boo-Boo a startling phenomenon is a bit strange, but it is not relevant for the story. In the meantime, we also meet the power-hungry Mayor Brown, who has ambitions as governor but is confronted with a significant financial deficit. That must of course be rectified just before the elections. He sees his salvation in selling Jellystone Park as farmland. Ranger Smith must do everything he can to make the park profitable within a week. Shouldn’t that work with Rachel’s help? Yogi himself also has an idea to entertain visitors. Hope it turns out fine…
Of course, the screenplay never excels in originality: all the plot elements have been transferred from other scripts of children’s films. Especially the solution to ultimately save the endangered nature reserve is very worn out. In the Netherlands alone, there are plenty of examples where this has been used, take for example “Pluk van de Petteflet” or “Ernst en Bobbie”. Yet you can forgive the makers for this lack of inventiveness, because “Yogi Bear” is otherwise just a funny and above all an innocent children’s film. The humor is never over the top and never crosses the line. No jokes are made at the expense of anyone, and the poo and pee humor that often occurs in these kinds of films has been completely omitted, a relief! The scenes with Yogi and Boo-Boo are the funniest and will make children laugh at the crazy antics that the duo gets into. In addition, the well-kept animation is well integrated with the live action images.
The best role for the human actors is reserved for Anna Faris, who steals the show with her crazy facial expressions and ditto sounds. Her character Rachel is an outsider, and Faris doses her eccentric traits so well that Rachel remains credible and never becomes ridiculous or too comical anywhere. Unfortunately, Tom Cavanagh is not an asset to the film. The chemistry with Faris is lacking, but even in the scenes without her he irritates rather than amuses. But the young movie viewer won’t care about that.
The 3D doesn’t add much to the movie, but fortunately it is not exaggerated. Sporadically something is launched towards the public and the few times it happens it is effective. “Yogi Bear” is a great way to spend time for your kids and there is a good chance that you will sit out the film yourself without bent toes.