Remaking classic films and even classic cartoons certainly isn’t a new idea, so it was little surprise to see that the Yogi Bear cartoon so many know and love was being made into a live-action/animation feature. While I seriously had my doubts about whether or not I’d enjoy “Yogi Bear” it ended up being a nice rendition of an old favorite. Sure the classic animation was missing, but the family-friendly story and enjoyable voice work helped make a harmless movie with some funny moments as well as a few sweet ones.
“Yogi Bear’s” storyline doesn’t veer too far from the cartoon’s. Walking, talking, and well-dressed Yogi (Dan Aykroyd) and Boo Boo (Justin Timberlake) spend the majority of their time trying to snatch pic-a-nic baskets from the visitors at Jellystone Park, much to Ranger Smith’s (Tom Cavanagh) disapproval. Yogi and Boo Boo have some pretty interesting ways of basket-snatching including zip lines, rigged picnic tables and Yogi’s newest invention, the Baskit Nabber 2000. Things are fairly routine at Jellystone, including Ranger Jones’ (T.J. Miller) desire to have Ranger duties beyond stacking pamphlets, until nature enthusiast and filmmaker Rachel (Anna Faris) shows up. Instantly Rachel and Ranger Smith have a connection, and he eventually agrees to let her make a documentary film that follows the talking bear via a small camera attached to Boo Boo’s bowtie.
Elsewhere, Mayor Brown (Andrew Daly) who is about to run for governor keeps selling things (public golf courses, fire stations, and libraries) to make money. Unfortunately, now that their city is broke, he and his chief of staff (Nathan Corddry) are thinking of rezoning Jellystone Park as agricultural land to sell the logging rights. And since Jellystone wasn’t covering its operating budget, the law stated it could be rezoned - but Ranger Smith isn’t going to let that happen. When he finds there's a week left to cover the budget by making over $30,000, he along with Rachel come up with a plan to save Jellystone.
With the park turning 100, Rachel and Ranger Smith get the word out that they’re going to have fireworks and a big celebration. Of course things don’t quite as planned when Ranger Jones starts to work with the Mayor to sabotage the event, all while manipulating Yogi into thinking he should be a part of the celebration. When things don’t go so well, Yogi decides it’s time to become an average bear, until Boo Boo shows him what the Mayor has in store for Jellystone, and they set out to find and inform Ranger Smith. Yogi gets to pull off one of his ideas, but in the end the film finds an interesting resolution that doesn’t involve fireworks or stunts, but rather nature.
While “Yogi Bear” wasn’t a perfect film, it was straightforward and featured loveable, well-intentioned characters worth rooting for. At 80 minutes, “Yogi Bear” runs smoothly and wraps up nicely. Still, the best thing about the film is probably the voice work. Aykroyd and Timberlake provide spot-on voice work as Yogi and Boo Boo. Cavanagh, Miller, Daly and Corddry all offer enjoyable performances, and Faris is always memorable even in a role that is a bit more mellow than some of her previous characters. If you’re looking for a family film that has some conflict, some humor and a bit of nostalgia then give “Yogi Bear” a try.
VIDEO: "Yogi Bear" is presented by Warner Brothers in 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC). While the presentation has occasional moments of softness, most of the film looked pleasantly crisp and well-defined, allowing viewers to appreciate some of the woodland backgrounds.
A couple of slight instances of edge enhancement were spotted, but the elements used looked pristine and the picture otherwise looked clean. Colors looked bright and warm, with very nice saturation and no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. The presentation is - as one might expect - a low-key effort with minimal surround use. The dialogue-driven track puts the surrounds to use at times for ambience and musical reinforcement, but the audio is otherwise spread across the front speakers. Audio quality is very nice, with clear dialogue and full-bodied score.
“Spending a Day at Jellystone Park” - is an interactive map that allows you to explore different areas of Jellystone including: Ranger Station, Redwood Valley, Jellystone Lake, Jelly Jarring Rapids, and Lookout Mountain. Each section includes different features.
In the Ranger Station:
“Ranger Jones’ Real Life Audition” - T.J. Miller’s audition with a real bear, including an interview with Miller about the experience. The footage of the audition is actually pretty funny and worth a look.
“Stand In Shenanigans” - A look at the actors who stood in as Yogi and Boo Boo on set. This feature is interesting because it not only introduces us to the actors who stood in, but also gives a little insight into how the other actors played off of them.
In Redwood Valley:
“Everyone Wants to be Yogi” Interviews shed light on cast members experiences growing up watching Yogi Bear cartoon. Animators, producers, director and more also share how they wanted to make Yogi as close to the original, since he is such a beloved character.
“Building Jellystone Park” - A look at making a classic park with beautiful landscape. To get the feel of the park just right, they went to New Zealand where actors were able to perform within a natural park-like setting. The feature also includes a closer look at the Ranger station and Yogi’s cave.
“Frog Mouthed Turtle” - a look at designing the turtle featured in the film.
In Jellystone Lake:
“Jellystone Park Tourism”- a brief ad for Jellystone Park. “Vote for Mayor Brown” and “Sickness Was Love: A Love Song For Rachel” are also included.
In Jelly Jarring Rapids:
“Animated Bears” a look at using stand-ins to help create a visual cue for animating Yogi and Boo Boo, as well as the process in building the CG characters and putting them into live-action.
“Jellystone Park Jewel: Yogi’s Secret Hiding Spot” - Ranger Jones shares Yogi’s hiding spot for some of the items he steals. He even shares what those items are.
“The Rapids”- a look at filming the blue screen version of the rapid scene, as well as interviews with Anna Faris and Tom Cavanagh about learning to actually river raft.
In Lookout Mountain:
“Baskit Nabber 2000”- a look at the design of the Baskit Nabber 2000, as well as recreating it as animation for the scene where it flies.
“Voicing Yogi and Boo Boo” a behind-the-scenes look at Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake recording the voices of Yogi and Boo Boo.
“Jellystone Park Jewel: Litterbug” Ranger Jones talks about littering as he picks up the trash in Jellystone.
Also Featured on the Blu-ray are: “Yogi Bear Mash-Up” - a brief look at the elements taken from the cartoon that were include in the film. Footage from both the cartoon and the film are included.
“Are You Smarter than the Average Bear” - is a game where you match food and fill up a picnic basket in a time limit before Yogi can snatch it.
Also included is “Looney Tunes ‘Rabid Rider’”
Final Thoughts: While “Yogi Bear” wasn’t without flaws, it was straightforward and the classic characters remained likable. The family-friendly flick is a recommended rental for fans. The Blu-Ray edition offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a few minor extras.
The Film B-