YOGI BEAR (3D). Voiced by Anna Faris, TJ Miller, Justin Timberlake and Dan Aykroyd. Directed by D. Eric Brevig. Rated G. 84 mins.
Yogi Bear is 50 years old this year. He first appeared in his television series in 1961, then a feature film in 1964, Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear. With revival of interest in the 1980s, a new series, and the some specials in the 1990s, he has been on screen for half a century. He has now reached the 3D era.
Actually, it’s all pretty much the same as usual – which means that it keeps its popular formula and ensures its audience of knowing what they are getting. This is especially so for the younger audiences (who were lining up at the press previews - where the critics were able to sit with a real audience of children and parents - to be photographed with Yogi, Boo Boo, or both).
Yogi Bear is an unlikely hero. He is not the smartest bear in the forest despite his hat and tie and his being able to talk. He is, perhaps, the vainest of bears, and his second name is not modesty. He is also food-obsessed, especially that found in picanic baskets, which he devises many ways of stealing from under the noses of unsuspecting picnickers. So, that provides a lot of the humour (including a pie in the face). He also builds a flying machine which is used for a special mission at the end of the film.
There is a need for a special mission since a corrupt mayor and his Machiavellian public relations assistant have concocted the idea of raising money (for campaigns and bribes) by selling of f Jellystone Park and re-zoning it. This to the dismay of Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh) who is in the upright tradition of sturdy rangers, and of Rachel (Anna Farris, who has specialised in spoof movies, the Scary Movie series and The House Bunny) who is making a documentary about Jellystone, starring Yogi. There is also Ranger Smith (T.J. Miller) who makes Yogi look like an intellectual. Andrew Daly does the smilingly oily politician very effectively.
This part of the plot might keep parents interested while the children enjoy the slapstick.
Also involved is a frog mouthed turtle, an allegedly endangered species who provides the reason for keeping Jellystone as a park. So, plenty of environmental consciousness.
Dan Aykroyd obviously enjoyed voicing Yogi, but it is difficult to discern Justin Timberlake’s voice as Boo Boo.
Easy family entertainment.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out January 13 2011.