image from hollywoodgo.com
RANT: The first day of my Christmas vacation from work brings the third flick on my pre-Christmas list. First and second were Tron: Legacy and The Fighter, leaving a fuzzy talking bear and his pint-sized sidekick.
SYNOPSIS: Jellystone Park celebrates its 100th year celebration on the verge of closing due to poor admissions and a city mayor who wants to sell the land to loggers. Enter talking bears Yogi and Boo Boo to make both a mess of things and to try and save the day.
After years of dominating the 2D space of the small screen as a cartoon, Hanna Barbara has let Warner Brothers plump up the pic-a-nic basket stealing bear with a live-action CGI adventure. Both Yogi and his sidekick Boo Boo come to life in 3D furriness. Director Eric Brevig, better known for his visual effects work than his directing work on Journey to the Center of the Earth, takes a crack at another mixed media film.
Although the spitting image of their animated counterparts, Yogi and Boo Boo suffer from issues greater than poison ivy or what bears do in the woods. The story, although cute and lightly entertaining, is about as thick as a picnic tablecloth. Of course, the kids will barely care about the closing of the park due to financial worries and a dastardly city mayor looking to cover his losses on his way to make a run at the governor's mansion. Youngsters probably will not even blink an eye at the way Tom Cavanagh's Ranger Smith and Ana Faris' documentary film maker Rachel fail to interact all that well with the troublesome computer animated brown bears.
But the bears do entertain. The voice talent for Dan Aykroyd's Yogi is almost spot-on, while Justin Timberlake's Boo Boo is a pleasant surprise. I knew Timberlake could sing, but I did not know he used the pipes for anything other than belting out hits. Yogi and Boo Boo are fun to watch, their antics offering up a few laughs. Brevig uses the 3D is the classic fashion, throwing popcorn, spit-takes, fireworks, even toad-faced turtles at the audience.
Andrew Daly plays Franklin City Mayor Brown with enough stupidity and power lust to be entertaining, especially with his yes-man Chief of Staff (Nathan Corddry) in tow. T.J. Miller's Ranger Jones is pointless, although necessary to a key element of the plot. Ana Faris is her typical bubbly self as Rachel, the documentary filmmaker looking to film a couple talking bears in Jellystone. Finally, Tom Cavanagh's Ranger Smith is neither all that annoyed by Yogi's picnic basket napping or all that devastated by the closing of the park. He underplays it all, which is strange since there is a pair of talking bear hanging around!
Not up the caliber compared to Alvin and the Chipmunks, Yogi Bear is entertaining enough for the children. But if adults are hoping to relive their Hanna Barbara childhood roots, they may be both engrossed and disappointed.
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