Who’s In It: Tom Cavanagh, Anna Faris, T.J. Miller, Nathan Corddry, Andrew Daly, and the voices of Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake
The Basics: Yogi Bear (Dan Aykroyd) lives in Jellystone Park with his diminutive friend, Boo-Boo (Justin Timberlake), where the two talking, anthropomorphic, accessories-wearing bears steal “pic-a-nic” baskets with homemade gadgets and drive the straight-laced Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh) crazy. But when the park comes under threat of closure by the city’s money-grubbing mayor (Andrew Daly), who wants to cut down the trees and sell them for profit to evil logging companies, Yogi and Boo-Boo join Ranger Smith and a nice visiting enviro-nerd lady (Anna Faris) to save Jellystone.
What’s The Deal: With the exception of a single booty rap reference (Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”) and a few fart and booger gags, Yogi Bear is refreshingly bland. There are no nonstop pop culture nods or even marginally inappropriate jokes to be had in this live action/CGI blended family flick -- not that the target audience would necessarily get them -- and in the age of films like the Shrek and Alvin and the Chipmunks films that’s almost charming, to a degree. With its simplistic plot, Yogi Bear is predictable enough to bore older viewers but coasts along on mostly engaging voice performances by Aykroyd and Timberlake and a few game turns by Cavanagh and Faris. So apprehensive adults rest easy; Yogi Bear is aggressively average, but it isn’t the kind of children’s movie you need to fear. Save that trepidation for movies that really deserve your burning hatred. I’m still looking at you, Furry Vengeance.
Why That Refreshing Blandness Is Still A Bad Thing: The most watchable characters in Yogi Bear are the bad guys. I’d rather have seen two hours of Andrew Daly (Eastbound & Down) and Nate Corddry (The Daily Show) knocking over pamphlet stands and crushing dreams left and right; at least they’re entertaining. Besides, by the end of the film kids learn not to backstab their friends or kill the environment, but Yogi’s still Yogi -- a habitual kleptomaniac and compulsive overeater who didn’t really learn much of anything or do any significant self-examination over the course of the film. Guess that leaves room to grow in the sequel.
A Shocking Note About The 3D: It’s not half bad. Gimmicky 3D effects are at home in kids’ movies like this, and director Eric Brevig predictably uses it to send projectiles and turtle tongues and popcorn flying at the audience. But the brightness of the sets and lighting that make Yogi Bear look so artificial also help counteract the dimming effect of 3D projection, resulting in a vivid, non-distracting 3D presentation with none of that terrible murky Alice in Wonderland/Clash of the Titans crappiness.
The Better Justin Timberlake Performance Of 2010: Timberlake may have award season hopes for his supporting turn in The Social Network, but he shows far greater range and comic timing here voicing Yogi Bear’s gentle and practical better half. His Boo-Boo takes cues from Don Messick’s vocal patterns but still sounds Timberlake-y, whereas Aykroyd pours so much of Daws Butler’s original portrayal into his Yogi Bear that it just sounds like impersonation.