out of Five
Running time: 80
Watchable cartoon-to-live-action adaptation that earns points for a great Yogi impersonation by Dan Aykroyd and some surprisingly decent dialogue, but is (pic-a-nic) hampered by its unimaginative plot, a lack of big laughs and a car-crash of a performance from Anna Faris.
What's it all about?
Directed by Eric Brevig, Yogi Bear is a live-action/animation hybrid (think Scooby Doo) based on the classic 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoons. The film opens with business as usual in Jellystone Park, with a digitally animated Yogi Bear (voiced by Dan Aykroyd) and his sidekick Boo Boo (Justin Timberlake) devising ever more ingenious ways to steal picnic baskets from under the nose of Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh).
However, when the unscrupulous local mayor (Andrew Daly) devises a scheme to sell the park to logging companies in order to pay the city deficit, Yogi and Boo Boo realise they'll have to team up with Smith in order to save their home. Meanwhile, Smith becomes smitten with nature expert Rachel (Anna Faris), who arrives to film a documentary about, um, talking bears.
The film is surprisingly faithful to the spirit of the original cartoons (which, let's not kid ourselves, weren't exactly masterpieces to begin with), most notably in the way Dan Aykroyd's note-perfect Yogi impersonation captures his distinctive voice and penchant for bad rhyming puns. Timberlake's Boo Boo isn't bad either, while Cavanagh (you may remember him as TV's Ed) is well suited to Ranger Smith and Andrew Daly gives an enjoyable comic performance as the gleefully amoral Mayor Brown.
In addition, the character animation is better than average (an improvement over Scooby Doo, anyway) and the set-pieces are nicely handled, even if the jokes themselves are predictable, overly reliant on slapstick and not all that funny (though, as noted, the dialogue is good). On top of that, the 3D effects are used well throughout and just about make up for the accompanying lack of colour.
The film's biggest problem is Anna Faris, who gives an atrocious performance (mugging furiously throughout) and looks weirdly plasticky to boot, to the point where she occasionally looks more CGI than Yogi. Similarly the plot is tired and unimaginative, though at least it's more entertaining than when it was the plot of Furry Vengeance.
Yogi Bear is never less than watchable, thanks to some smarter-than-average dialogue and Aykroyd's frequently amusing Yogi impression. At any rate, small children will probably enjoy it, while dragged-along adults will find it bear-able.
Yogi Bear London Premiere