Nobody actually likes Yogi Bear, right? As a kid I watched some of the cartoons along with the other Hanna-Barbera lineup, but Yogi never seemed to be a character about whom the public was begging for a movie adaptation. Whether it was wanted or not, here it is, and it’s horrible.
It’s not just that the film is obnoxious; it doesn’t make any sense. Apparently everybody can hear Yogi Bear and his sidekick/son/something Boo-Boo talk and is OK about this. This could work in a fun, heightened world, but this just a very boring depiction of the real world…with talking bears.
The plot is so clichéd, the script may still have some copy and paste typos. Jellystone Park is in danger because the evil mayor wants money or something. This is obviously not an honorable attempt to save a failing city from bankruptcy because the mayor is wearing a suit and says things like, “All I care about is power.” Thus, he is evil.
So the park has one week to raise $30,000 or something. It is up to Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh) to do so. He is helped by Rachel (Anna Faris), a nature documentarian. Most of her dialogue is “I spent __ months with the _______.” If she really is an expert in wildlife, why is launching fireworks her plan to save the park? Why is that a plan at all? Also, why does the mayor have an evil laugh when Yogi is water-skiing with fire and accidentally launches the fireworks?
Everything happens as expected, even with a deus ex machina in the form of a frog-faced turtle. Family films don’t have to have really complex stories, but they need to have something real. This film is so empty that I’m just begging for anything to work. Ranger Smith says over and over again that he loves the park. So how about you show him interacting with the park in a way that shows how much it means to him? Instead, all he does is yell at Yogi for stealing people’s food. In fact, nobody seems to enjoy the park. Everybody is either miserable or in mortal danger.
It doesn’t help that the CGI in this movie is horrendous. The bears are so awkwardly inserted it never is believable. The light never seems to hit them right, they never interact with the environment and they don’t appear to be really three-dimensional. It hurts all of the performances because it’s obvious how much everyone is interacting with nothing. The film is full of really talented and funny people including Cavanagh, Faris, T.J. Miller, Andrew Daly, Nathan Corddry and Justin Timberlake. None of them give a bad performance, but they just aren’t enthusiastic to fake laugh at another ZANY antic by Yogi, which all revolve around the premise that he’s hungry.
Instead, they are all trapped in a film that goes out of its way to make everybody look bad. All of the shots are close-ups, ruining any sort of comedy between characters. The park looks beautiful, but the filmmakers never really chose to highlight the beauty or the adventure of it. Nobody wins.
The extras continue with the same degree of incompetency. It’s just a ton of featurettes about how great the CGI is, how perfect Dan Aykroyd was as the voice of Yogi and how faithful the film is to the cartoon. I respectfully disagree with everything they said. They also have Miller doing some sketches as Ranger Jones. They forgot to add in the jokes in post. In order to watch any of these, you have to naviagate through an annoying map of Jellystone that takes too long to load each time. There is also a matching game to determine if “you are smarter than the average bear.” The concept is that if you match the food, then Yogi can’t steal it. There is also a new Looney Tunes cartoon that’s funnier than the entire movie. The only reason for checing out the bonus features is this absolutely bizarre “music video” of Cavanagh singing about Rachel and several times he just sings the word “rainbows” over and over again. Also, they keep looping the same footage of Faris walking past a green screen while the song is going on. It’s insane, but what do you expect?
Film: 1 Yap
Extras: 1.5 Yap
Insane Level of Rachel Song: 4 Yaps
Actual Quality of Rachel Song: 1 Yap