Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake, Anna Faris, Tom Cavanagh, T.J. Miller, Nathan Corddry, Andrew Daly
Rowan University, 10
“I appreciate smart, but you know man, in this game, you gotta have more than that.” – Stringer Bell, The Wire
Review By: Dariel Figueroa
It’s common these days to see films based on franchises or licenses that already have a built in audience. It’s called padding your bottom line and to investors, nothing is safer than putting your money into something that has already created public interest. Cartoons, TV shows, toys, and even board games (see Battleship and Monopoly) have been converted into silver screen attractions, and with the economy the way it is, it makes sense that filmmakers are increasingly eschewing original concepts in lieu of the guaranteed dollar.
Yogi Bear is one of those films, its source material derived from the much lauded Hanna-Barbara cartoon featuring the lovable talking bear whose only mission in life is to feed his insatiable appetite along side his best pal Boo Boo. It’s also one of those cartoons that seem impossible to convert into good live-action fare, but here we go anyway; there’s money to be made, right?
Yogi employs the voices of Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake as the titular character and sidekick respectively. Up to their usual picnic basket stealing antics, things become serious for the duo when Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanaugh) informs them that due to budget cuts, by the selfish Mayor Brown (Andrew Daly), the park would have only several days to meet budget for the year or be forced to be re-zoned for incoming businesses or apartments, or something like that. It’s up to Yogi, Boo Boo, Smith, and potential love interest Rachael (Anna Faris) to save the day and keep Jellystone Park up and running.
Taking for granted the supposed fact that the audience is already familiar with the world of Yogi, the film starts off on the wrong foot by not giving any kind of information or background on why Yogi and Boo can have conversations with humans or why they are the only animals to have such a power. The concept makes even less sense when Ranger Smith has to think of a way to save the park and he doesn’t even consider the friggin’ talking bears as an attraction!
Anna Faris roams around in this film using none of her god-given comedic talents and timing, instead playing a sort of straight woman, a creative choice that shows that the creators of this film had no idea what they were doing because if given the proper material, Faris could have generated the kind of laughs this film needed to elicit.
The material focuses much on the evil government representative more interested in his weekend getaways than the budget deficits in his district. Yogi Bear tries to incorporate governmental unrest in an attempt to appeal to the parental crowd but it’s a vague and transparent effort as it’s the same old “people in suits are bad” gimmick exhausted by many lazy, PG scripts.
This isn’t a horrible
The castings of Aykroyd and Timberlake are also interesting. Aykroyd does pull off a nice Yogi voice despite the fact that no one in the target demographic will know the 80’s star by name; as for Timberlake, he does fine as Boo Boo but his salary probably would have suited him better as a live action player. I don’t necessarily understand using a media star like Mr. Sexy Back in an audio only aspect; it makes no sense to me.
The Blu-ray extras contain a bit of interactive behind the scenes featurettes, which are worth a look, but overall the special features seem too light and flaky much like the film’s script.
For those who wish to appease their children under the ages of 9, give this thing a go; just know that you’re getting the bare minimum in children’s entertainment. There is a good amount of pratfalls and Wily Coyote-like gags but there are better films that incorporate this and so much more.