A live action adaptation was always on the cards for the “smarter than the average” bear as dollar signs rolled into the eyes of big wig producers, but you can’t help but feel a fully animated foray into the world of Jellystone Park would’ve been more fruitful. Starring the CGI’d Yogi and his faithful sidekick Boo Boo armed with the voices of Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake respectively; nothing screams hidden gem about this limp and quickly forgettable affair.
We join the film with a stressed Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh) who must deal with Yogi’s daily picnic basket theft attempts – has he never heard of a tranquiliser gun? To add to his woe, the Ranger discovers that the evil Mayor Brown (Andrew Daly) plans to close Jellystone for logging cash and needs to stump up some serious beans to meet his quota. Cue madcap plans and general joyful lighthearted hilarity? Erm, no.
The inclusion of Aykroyd and Timberlake would suggest a little more weight than the usual, but instead the pair have phoned it in; watching one cartoon and practising a few times in front of the mirror. It’d been of far more interest to see what Dan or Justin could’ve whipped up with a dash of their own style thrown in for good measure; and not just a series of forgettable throwaway lines, lost in the film’s pacey need to get to the inevitably predictable conclusion.
But it’s not just that…it’s almost as if director Eric Brevig was so lost in the real world set, that he forgot about the only real draw – Yogi. The beauty of the TV cartoon was the Bear’s ever increasingly crazy plans to steal food from the public, much to the anger of the Ranger Smith. But the movie misses this, at times even bypassing the bears completely as actors tediously fill the screen. Yogi needed to be more a nuisance, more of a food obsessed, more of a personality; but Dan Ackroyd’s beast often stands a little apologetically like his presence isn’t important.
This is not to say that the human presence isn’t at least at times enjoyable. Anna Faris is a formidable comedic force in everything she chooses and her role in the flick at least adds some fun slapstick childish fun to proceedings. Similarly Andrew Daly as the rather less than subtle Mayor Brown, brought on the most smirks with in your a confident lack of self awareness that was at times similar to that of the Anchorman lot.
Hollywood love making that common mistake that because something is successful in cartoon form, that there’s a need to recreate it for the silver screen. Yogi Bear will provide a few giggles for kids but for the only real respite for those over the age of ten is it’s a short 77 minutes. Rather than a charming step back to the madcap style of Hanna-Barbara’s 60s cartoon, it’s a little more Hanna-Barbaric.