Making the Grades
Yogi Bear (voice by Dan Aykroyd) is no average ursidae. Living in picturesque Jellystone National Park with his little pal Boo Boo (voice by Justin Timberlake), the clever mammal prefers stealing lunch from unsuspecting park visitors rather than foraging in the forest for food. He hangs out in a cozy cave outfitted with human comforts including a pop vending machine that he confiscated from the ranger’s office.
But Jellystone’s Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh) has had enough of Yogi’s picnic basket pinching. The park is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary and the thievery is keeping people from coming to the wilderness location. As a result the recreational area is losing money.
Unfortunately the nearby town’s mayor (Andrew Daly) is also dealing with a municipal deficit (largely because of his exorbitant spending practices). While a town would never have charge of a national park, things appear to be different here. In order to encourage the electorate to vote for him in an upcoming gubernatorial run, Mayor Brown plans to sell off the logging rights for Jellystone and fill his city’s coffers with the funds.
Luckily for family viewing, this adaptation of the Hanna-Barbera television series is as good or better than the 1960’s cartoon. While many of the characters in this film are exaggerations (such as the corrupt politician and his fawning assistant played by Nathan Corddry), the stereotypes work because the script is as animated as the two main critters. Yogi still considers himself to be “smarter than the average bear” despite the fact that his plans frequently backfire or that his inflated sense of his own intelligence often put the pair in perilous situations. A wild trip through the river’s rapids and a precarious flight in a less-than-air-worthy craft results in moments of slapstick humor. The movie also employs a pie-in-the-face routine and other typical gags from the original televised program. But the mishaps don’t stop this tie-wearing forest creature from trying to help Ranger Smith save the mountainous destination from deforestation.
Coming in at just 80 minutes runtime, the predictable plot with good quality 3D effects is short enough to hold the attention of most young viewers. And though a romance between the socially inept Ranger Smith and an equally awkward documentarian (Anna Faris) won’t be as engaging as the antics of the two bears, the characters in this forest adventure will keep most family audiences happily entertained.