Yogi Bear (2010)

Posted: March 2, 2011 in Movies

Like many of you out there, when I first saw the trailer for “Yogi Bear,” I rolled my eyes and sighed, anticipating another substandard talking animal movie. Then, after a few days had past, I questioned why I rolled my eyes. My initial thoughts were wondering how the memory of such a great cartoon could be trampled by a movie like this. The premise had shown to fail in such cartoon-to-CGI features such as Garfield and Marmaduke – so why should Yogi Bear be any different.

And that got me thinking about the original cartoons. My kids are ages two, seven and eight, and when the older ones were really young, we watched a lot of Spongebob and Dora the Explorer and all the other crap cartoons the modern-day has to offer. Long gone are the glory days of my youth – spent watching Hong Kong Phooey, Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons, and – yes – Yogi Bear. The Hanna-Barbera cartoons of yesteryear weren’t made for fart jokes or to teach you foreign languages. Their job was simple – to make us laugh.

They were fun to watch as kids. Granted, they all pretty much followed the same formula. In the case of the Yogi Bear cartoons, Yogi would scheme to get pic-i-nic baskets, and the Ranger would get irritated at him and yell a lot. Every episode. You could set your watch by it.

It was at this point that I realized that I had fallen into the faux nostalgia trap that so many people do. We saw it with “Clash of the Titans” earlier this year, where people bemoaned it not being as good as the original but forgetting that the original really wasn’t thick on story and characters and definitely had some cheese on it’s special effect department. The original actually sucked in comparison to the modern version. But we are spoiled with modern-technology, and our recollection of distant memories sometimes gets more credit than it deserves.

So I watched into “Yogi Bear” with a fresh eye… trying hard not to revel in the glory of cartoons past. And in giving it a shot., I was delightfully not disappointed.

The movie has very much the same plot as the old cartoons. Yogi and Boo Boo are annoying Ranger Smith by stealing pic-i-nic baskets from campers. Some new elements were added, including an adorable nature documentarian played by Anna Faris and a smarmy mayor who is trying to sell the logging rights to Jellystone Park.

It was pointed out to me by another blogsite that Yogi and Boo Boo trying to save the wilderness is eerily similar to “Furry Vengeance,” (which I did not see) but apparently it’s done so much better here. Sure, it’s going to annoy the heck out of those who hate the talking animal movies. (I personally don’t – some, like “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and “Cats and Dogs” were ones that I enjoyed watching with my kids.) But for people like me, it’s a lot of fun to watch something recognizable and laugh along with my kids.

The voice cast of Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake is actually quite good. While Aykroyd is in the voice quite a bit, it’s Timberlake who shines as Boo Boo. I’ve thought for years that, despite what the critics and majority of the public think, this guy is a good actor, and it might be a talking cartoon bear that proves it to everyone else. Several scenes had me laughing out loud, and the cuteness was matched with amazing CGI technique and graphic production.

Then there’s the 3D aspect of the movie. “Yogi Bear” was shot with the same Fusion camera system that was used for “Avatar,” and it’s refreshing to actually see one of these smaller release kids movies that actually takes care with the 3D, instead of having a production price-tag in the tens of millions. Yeah, it’s very gimmicky with plenty of things flying at the screen, but that’s fine with me. That just adds depth to the film and makes it interesting for the younger viewers. Soon we will all have 3D televisions, so we won’t have much of a choice on what to watch in what dimension – so no time like the present to start the training course.

Reservations aside, I enjoyed “Yogi Bear.” It’s not without its faults, but considering some of the truly terrible films that have employed computer generated versions of beloved characters (a la “G-Force”), this is refreshingly faithful to the original cartoons. Be prepared for lots of low-brow silliness and release the kid in your heart (and hopefully have your kids at your side), and maybe like me, you’ll find yourself having a good time in Jellystone Park.

Official Site: Link | IMDB: Link | Wiki: Link | Download (AVI): Here


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