Yogi Bear

Yogi Bear


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

A budget shortfall; a politician anxious to be re-elected; acres of mature forest ripe for sell-off to the logging industry. No, it's not the news, though its timing couldn't be worse for David Cameron. It's a big screen outing for that old cartoon favourite Yogi Bear, who must now take a break from stealing picnic baskets and band together with his old nemesis Ranger Smith in a bid to save their beloved Jellystone.

The first five minutes of this film nevertheless includes a picnic basket stealing moment, and that's the Yogi joke just about played out. The rest of the plot is played by numbers. There will be no surprises for the adults, but the plotting, though crude, is smoothly put together, so kids may still find it satisfying. It'll work particularly well for younger and more sensitive children who like their entertainment a little less frantic than most of what the cinema has recently had to offer them. There are no real scares here but there's still a sense of adventure and the villains are suitably mean.

Copy picture

As an entry in the growing 3D canon, Yogi Bear scores fairly well. Although the 3D is redundant for much of the film there are some good effects with things like splashing water, and they're well integrated into the whole. Likewise the live action, costume and CGI elements work well together. This is the kind of unfussy work that many viewers won't notice, which illustrates its success, and it really does elevate the film. If you're willing to accept the idea of a talking, anthropoid bear, you'll find it easy enough to believe in this one (and his companion, little Boo Boo, of course). The 3D work also provides us with some occasionally beautiful views, though it seems ironic that these were largely filmed in New Zealand, the US having already lost many of its great natural shooting locations.

The big disappointment here is Yogi himself. He's played by Dan Aykroyd but both actor and character seem to be sleepwalking through most of the film. That Justin Timberlake is tedious as Boo Boo is fitting enough, though it would be nice to see the little guy get more to do, but Yogi just ought to be... well, more fun. He's too often upstaged by TV actor Tom Cavanagh, who makes an impressive breakthrough as Ranger Smith. It can be really tough to make a guy who is this much of an all round good egg sympathetic and likeable too, but Cavanagh is more than up to the job. In support, Anna Faris mingles girl next door charm with a tough attitude that will appeal to young girls in the audience, and T.J. Miller brings a necessary affability to the sullen Ranger Jones. These human characters largely suffice to carry the story, but they shouldn't have to.

Failing to live up to its potential, Yogi Bear seems unlikely to inspire a sequel and may leave you wondering how the cartoon ever managed to run for so long in the first place. It's not much of a picnic movie, but it nevertheless suffices as a light snack, as long as you're not too demanding.

Reviewed on: 07 Feb 2011
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Yogi Bear packshot
Yogi and his friend Boo Boo join forces with Ranger Smith to foil a plot to sell off Jellystone's trees.
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Director: Eric Brevig

Writer: Jeffrey Ventimilia, Joshua Sternin

Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake, Tom Cavanagh, Anna Faris, T.J. Miller, Andrew Daly, Nathan Corddry

Year: 2010

Runtime: 80 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US, New Zealand


Glasgow 2011

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