Yogi Bear is property of Warner Bros.
Hello, Spongey here.
Welcome back to Toon’d Out Month 3!
Today, we go forward to 2010 for a more typical live adaptation you may remember.,But first, a little “history”.
Yogi Bear is one of the recognizable cartoon characters ever, and one of Hanna Barbara earlier breakout character as well. After making his first appearance in the Huckleberry Hound show, he got his own series in 1961 and went on to become a cartoon icon.
As you all know, Yogi Bear is a bear that steals “pic-anic” baskets with his pal Boo-Boo, in Jellystone park while evading the ranger. Since Yogi is well known, and old, a modern day film version was just going to happen, and it did.
With a 13 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and landing a spot on Ani-Mat’s worst live action adaption list, this film was not liked upon release. But since then, people have forgetten about it.
And as I hinted at last time, I kind of…like it. Sure, I only saw it once awhile ago on HBO or something but for what it is, I enjoyed it.
I’m not the only one who likes it either. Spill.com and The Blockbuster Buster said it was a harmless film and they gave it credit for staying true to the source and not making Yogi “hip” like these films tend to do.
Of course, I agree. It’s a fine kids movie that is worth watching if you are open to it. Heck, AniMat even said it at least tries to be faithful which most of the films on his list failed to do.
It’s not a masterpiece or anything, but it’s not as bad as everyone says it is.. Even if the alternative poster has Yogi and Boo-Boo, with their heads on top of each you, giving you the crazy eyes, with the tag line “Good things come in bears”.
….I’m not touching that one.
But it’s worth reviewing, so that is where I come in. This comes to us from the director of the 2008 version of Journey to the center of the earth, of the 3 writers, one wrote Wild Hogs, and the other wrote Tooth Fairy.
…This one is much better.
This, is Yogi Bear
The movie opens with a guy showing off his Morgan Freeman impression, as he narrates to us about Jellystone Park. Right away, we see our titular hero and his friend looking to steal a family picnic basket.
Yogi is voiced by Dan Ackryod while Boo-Boo is voiced by Justin Timberlake. Even this movies biggest haters admit, these two were fantastic in this. They really do some good impressions and after awhile, you forget the people behind the mic, which is important for this kind of movie.
“A picnic basket is more than that. It holds dreams”
Yogi stare off into space as he says this.
“What are you looking at?’
“I don’t know”
Heh. See, right away we have some antics akin to the source materiel. Though to be fair, The Smurfs started out that way and look what happened. But don’t worry, this is better.
Infact, the director himself said this: “I really wanted this to be a movie that doesn’t make parents feel like they’ve been marginalized by changing the characters, and trying to make them hip and different from who they are.”
As I said in the intro, he succeeded. After failing to get his prize, we cut to Ranger Smith, and his partner Jones, played by TJ Miller, as Jones tells him about the Yogi thing. Smith heads out to deal with, but he won’t let Jones tag along as he must deal with some boxes.
Sad music plays as Jones goes to do this, and you already have the rest of his arc mapped out in your head, don’t you? But we’ll get to that later.
We cut back to Yogi as he creates this crazy contraption to get a picnic basket from another family. Smith shows up, so they try to hide it.
The trap springs on him so Yogi is caught red handed. I’ll stop to mention that besides the performances, the writers got the characters down perfectly. Yogi is still the smart, fast talking, yet still goofy bear we know and the parts with him are easily the funniest bits.
Though where the critics start to become right is with the human characters. We’ll talk more about that later, but Smith is shown in a more sympathetic light and his acting isn’t as good as the vocal performances. But for a movie like this, it’s still better than some others.
Though I have a question I’ve always had about this entire franchise: Why doesn’t the Ranger kick Yogi out? If there was a bear in my park stealing picnic baskets, his ass would be out in an instant.
And who would keep coming to a park that has a basket thief anyway? But eh, the bear talks so I guess logic goes out the window.
Smith goes back to his station and he is visited by a lovely woman named Rachel Johnson, played by Anna Faris. She wants to film a documentary in Jellystone.
“Sure, I can handle you for that,-i mean handle that for you”
Yeah, forced love interest alert! If that doesn’t convince you, then watch as they have banter where they find out how much they have in common.
Yeah, this movie is fairly typical, and this whole romance subplot is proof of that. I said I enjoyed the film, I never said it was THAT good.
Anyway, she wants to get some footage of the local wildlife.
“I’ve heard you’ve got an unusual brown bear”
I want that bear!
…Sorry. We then cut to the office of the town mayor, as he finds out his city is bankrupt. He talks to his assistant about why they went bankrupt, as we find out they tried selling some place.
Like selling the fire department to a yogurt company. Yeah, he isn’t the brightest tool in the shed. I’ll talk about him more after I say this: They want to buy out Jellystone so they sell it and make money.
“Do you have any idea how many votes that will buy me?”
“Enough to be governor?”
Yep, it’s the generic evil land developer! This is one of the biggest cliches in the kids movie book and yeah, it’s pretty stupid. So why don’t I mind this movie doing it?
Cuz I think the villain is a lot of fun. He’s so generic yet this scene is very enjoyable, as the villain just reveals in how generic he is.
I can let any generic villain go if he’s funny enough, and that scene sold me on him. Like I said, this movie is no masterpiece but considering the cliches it has to work with, it could have been worse.
Anyway, Smith introduces Rachel to Yogi and Boo-Boo.
“Would you guys mind if I shoot you?”
Yogi runs away. Haw, that was also funny. It’s a cheap joke but it works.
So Rachel tells Smith she will set up a camera in Boo-Boo’s bow-tie.
‘I want to capture the true wilderness. No human in sight”
“ Sounds like my apartment”
Yogi takes Smith aside to give him dating advice, as well as our first bad joke.
“And of course, urinate on her to mark her as your territory!”
After that, the mayor arrives to close down the park. I love how nonchalantly he breaks it to Smith, like it’s nothing. He says that the park doesn’t make it’s budget back anymore, so they are shutting it down.
Smith, as you would expect, is not happy because Jellystone is a national landmark. So, to make the ranger happy, the mayor says if Jellystone makes back it’s budget by next week, it will be saved.
Yeah, add more cliches, why don’t you?
Okay, for some reason I’m still enjoying this thing despite the cliches, and I don’t know why! There is just something about that is fun, compared to the likes of Alvin or Bratz.
With that, we cut to Yogi’s cave (while Weird Al’s “Lasagna” plays in the background. Weird choice…), as Yogi had made this flying bike thingy to nap some picnic baskets. It’s a weird how a thief is so likable. Smith walks in to talk about the closing down thing, but he spies the glider thing and takes it away.
He scolds them and tells them to stop it for good, with the park in danger.
“Would it really be so hard to be a regular bear?”
And so starts Yogi’s little arc, but more on that later. Smith meets with Rachel to ask her out. Look, this film would be improved without the romance, and I will admit that. However….I have no defense for it but I tolerate it anyway!
They have a romantic dinner in front of his ranger station, because, hey, does he look the kind of guy that can afford anything good?
They have some banter, until Yogi and Boo-Boo pop up. Yogi says he wants to help the park, so he gives Smith 100 bucks…that he got from the park donation park. Wah wah.
Smith says they need lots of visitors. Yogi says he can attract people his mad dancing skills. And in the single worst joke in the movie, he dances to Baby Got Back.
After that displays, Smith rightfully tells Yogi to not bug anyone at the park. Though to be fair, if I knew a park had a talking bear in it, I’d go there, bad joke or no.
Yogi and Boo leave, and Rachel tells Smith that they should do a big event for the park’s 100th anniversary, to pull people in. Said event will be a big fireworks so display.
So the next day, they hang up fliers to advertise this event. We cut to Jones walking around with a big sign around his neck to advertise the event, and the mayor pops up to notice this.
At the event, they will sell “Season passes” to the park but Jones says he thinks it’s a weak idea.
“Why is a guy with your talent doing such insulting grunt work?”
Yeah, you know what cliché we’re going with. The unappreciated worker gets an offer from the villain to work with him, and thus damage the main bosses company, or whatever. Yes, the Mayor offers to make Jones the head ranger if he buys the place, when of course we known he won’t do that.
This is one cliché that we really didn’t need. The plight to save the park is cliché but it could carry the film on it’s own. I’ll admit that right now, though again, I still don’t find it PAINFULLY cliché, nor is there something awful on top of it like with some others.
Jones at first rejects this, to be loyal to his boss. But when he arrives back at the park, he finds out he likely won’t reach Head Ranger for 12 years.
“Can’t wait 12 years”
But more on that later. Two days later, they hold their big event which Yogi can’t attend. Naturally, this is driving him crazy. After an amusing scene with Yogi, we join the less interesting part of the plot, as the mayor shows up and greets Jones.
Jones says he is on board, and has tried to sabotage the event. After that, Jones hears that Yogi is staying out of the way, so now he will use that for his plan.
So, I guess Smith wanted to play a game of disappearing bears. …Sorry.
He visits Yogi and Boo-Boo to tell them that the people are bored of fireworks, and that Yogi should do this routine he came up with. Boo-Boo thinks it’s a bad idea, but Yogi won’t hear it.
“You’ve tried to stop my plans with common sense a thousand times. Has it ever worked?”
“Then let’s go!”
Haw. After some dumb bit with Smith and Rachel, the event starts off as Yogi shows up to do a big water-skiing act. Long story short, it goes wrong and a mistake makes the fireworks go off a tad too early.
That sounds okay until they go off in bad places and drive everyone away. After everyone has left, Smith looks at the damage that Yogi ended up causing.
Naturally, he is pissed off, and he tells Yogi to be a regular bear.
‘You’d rather be selfish and destructive while everyone else pays the price”
As cliché as this, he has a point. While he clearly tries to help, he does act a bit selfish and he always bugs people with his basket stealing and his attempt to make himself the center of attention had a bad effect on his cause. I mean, in a movie like this, you can only have your main character steals stuff for so long before we start to dislike him.
In a short format, that works fine but in a film like this, we need something like this. Yeah, they needed cliches to get to this point and we could have had it without the “Save the park from evil guy” thing, but this moment still works.
“Tell me Yogi. How smart are you now?’
The next day, the mayor tells Smith that the park is done for, and he is going to a different park, while Jones takes over here
. This movie is only 73 minutes long (short compared to some other films I’ve done recently) so it makes sense to do this only 40 minutes in.
Anyway, Smith tells Racheal that with that, he’s kind of leaving her.
“You and this park have one thing in common: You both deserve a better man than me”
This movie could be improved if you had him realize he can still be with her without a park or whatever. The romance hasn’t even popped up much since the dinner scene so something like this just drags it down.
With Jellystone closed, Smith leaves and our heroes are sad. Yogi says he is done being smart as his brains have done nothing but hurt people.
Yogi is now an average forest bear. Some people have complained that Yogi and Boo-Boo are just plot devices so the human characters can have their little plot. Now, this is kind of a Human Focuses Adaptation, but there is more to Yogi.
Yeah, he exists so the park can close down and all that, but we still have stand alone development for him as he realizes his special talent drags everyone down. So it’s still kind of a Yogi Bear movie, as he does have his own thing going on.
Sure, there is too much focus on Smith’s “arc” at times, but if he was exactly like in the show, that would make for a boring movie, unless you have Yogi go on a adventure outside the park and make it In Name Only.
But back to the plot. Yogi leaves, Jones is now the head ranger and Smith finds out the “park” is sent to is just a patch of grass in the middle of a busy city.
The mayor shows up to explain that the park’s land will be there, but it will just make the city money in different ways or whatever.
The point ios, the park itself is gone and Smith doesn’t like it. Meanwhile, Yogi isn’t doing well in the wild as he simply can’t forage for himself. Boo-Boo shows up to get him to help save Jellystone, but Yogi still wants to be an average bear. Boo-Boo tells him to use his smarts for good, as he fears the mayor may start tearing down the land.
With that, Yogi dons his hat again, and is now on board to save the park. Well, that was quick. Maybe this film’s short length was not a good thing after all.
So our heroes jump on board a train to get to Evergreen park, where Smith is. They make it to the city, but have 2 miles to go, to get to Smith. And yes, no one reacts to seeing a walking, talking bear.
Though to be fair, Rachel said earlier that talking bears are “rare” so people might know they exist, they just don’t appear often.
Yogi steals a bum’s shopping cart (like you do) and makes it to Smith. Yogi apologies to Smith for being such a screw up, and says he didn’t mean to mess things up. He also tells Smith that they are tearing down the trees in the park.
This gets Ranger Smith’s attention but he think he can’t do anything.
“I lost Rachel”
Um no, you left her. She did nothing at all. Infact, why is she even in this movie at all? Anyway, Yogi say he has learned 2 things from taking picnic baskets:
1. Dark mayonnaise isn’t as good as light mayonnaise.
2. You can’t give up. That’s useful for Smith, as he is a mayo enthusiast. Nah, just kidding, he now knows he can’t give up.
Back at the park, Rachael wants in but the mayor’s Yes man tries to stop her. She takes it well.
“I lived with gorillas, pal. I know rage. You do not want me to go gorilla”
Yogi, Boo-Boo, and Ranger Smith show up just in time to meet up with her. So now it’s time for the moment where Smith confess his love to her, talking about how he can’t lose her and blah blah blah. We get loud, romantic music and-
BOO-BOO: Um…we’re still here.
Okay, that was funny. Rachel shows them footage she got from Boo-Boo’s tie camera (gotta love a forced plot device).
It turns out his pet turtle is a rare frog mouthed turtle that can actully this park, due to being endangered.
So really, RACHEL was the walking talking plot device!
Somehow the yes man catches wind of this and tells the mayor, and Jones, about the turtle. Jones of course thinks the mayor wants it to get people going to the park, and for his own evil reasons.
So Jones agrees to go get the turtle. When the Yes Man tells Rachel they will get the turtle, she tells him it’s against the law to take it from it’s natural habitat.
YOGI: It’s okay, these guys have no idea where my cave is.
YES MAN: Guys, the turtle is in the talking bear’s cave.
YOGI: …Well, that backfired.
The Yes Man finds the turtle, and by the time he does, our heroes are on the other side, past some rapids or something. So they shall use Yogi’s basket snatcher glider thing from earlier to get across to snatch up the turtle.
Back with Jones, he is told the turtle is being taken to a reptile house that the city is making. Jones starts getting suspicious about the obviously evil bad guys. Then, this:
“You’re gonna find this out in a few hours so I might as well tell you anyway. We gotta lose this turtle so we can sell the logging rights to the park.”
I love that. He’s like “Screw the big cliché reveal, I’ll tell you upfront what our generic plan is!”.
Yes Man assures Jones it’s still a park without a trees, and all that matters is Jones’ career. Right there, Yogi is able to snatch up the basket.
“I’m not gonna let a bear make me look bad!”
THIS IS NOT OVER! BEARS! There, I did all 3 NC bear memes!
One flying scene later, they take the turtle to Smith and Rachel but they all end up on a raft from the glider, in the river. The bad guys are still after them, but Yogi steers them a different way….into some rapids.
Whoops. Thankfully, it’s just an obvious green screen effect, so they survive a trip down a waterfall and make it to land.
But the place where the Mayor now is, making a speech to get people to vote him for Governor, is a mile away. Thankfully, Jones had a weak change of heart, so he shows up to give them a ride. He tries to quickly explain why he sided with the bad guys, but Smith tells him to save it for later, as they have a pressing matter.
Even Smith wants to rush through the cliché crap to get to the slightly more interesting cliches! They take the turtle to the Mayor and tell him to stop his evil plan. But the Mayor says he doesn’t care about the law or the park.
“I care about power you pinheads!”
I don’t care what people say, that line is amazingly cliché, and over the top! Why did they have him say that? Well, even if I had not seen this film before, I would know Boo-Boo’s tie camera recorded that and they will show it to the citizens later.
Yeah, this movie isn’t exactly full of twists.
Despite Smith’s best efforts, the Yes Man takes the turtle and the Mayor goes up for speech a bit later. He tells them he saved the city and because of that, he should be governor.
I always wonder how characters like him even get trusted enough to gain power in the first place. Anyway. Smith has a plan. They will hook Boo-Boo’s still rolling tie camera up to the big screen to expose the mayor.
And he quickly does so without issue. To drive home the point, the turtle shows up, having escaped with his frog tongue. The movie is almost over, don’t even react to that.
With that, everyone boos the Mayor, and the Smith tells Yogi they should be happy with who they are, fight for what they love, and all that good stuff. So in the end, Yogi didn’t really change all that much.
He did realize the damage he causes but now everything is just normal. Huh. Speaking of, I got something to comment on :
The park has a reopening, getting people in because of the rare turtle. So, the talking bear isn’t the attraction, but a frog turtle is?
From what the critics say, you’d think Yogi would be the attraction since he is a “Walking plot device” after all.
Not!Morgan Freeman kicks in to tell us how amazing Jellystone is…until he sees Yogi pulling another trap.
Haw. Rachel asks Smith out and after some banter, he says Yes.
“Yogi, will be Yogi, and I’m not gonna let him bother me anymore”
I have a talking bear disturbing the peace by jacking their food, but who cares cuz I have Anna Farris!
…Actually, I’d ignore that for her, too.
They kiss, but then Yogi drives by in Smith’s cart, dragging a whole picnic table with a thingy.
Dave, you are not.
…Thankfully. So the Mayor is defeated, Jones is cool with his position now cuz …something changed the park is safe, and Smith chases after Yogi.
This abrupt ending sadly drives home most of my criticisms, but overall, I’m cool with it.
Also, the credits tell us No Bears were harmed in the making of this movie. Haw. There’s also a note saying no one involved with this film “received payment,…in association with the depiction of Tobacco products”
…Did I miss the scene where Yogi smokes weed?
After reviewing this, I get why people don’t care for this film all that much. But I still can’t say it’s awful or even THAT flawed.
It’s perfectly acceptable family entertainment. Nothing less, and maybe a bit more. I’ll just say what I like first. Y
ogi and Boo-Boo were very well realized. While Boo-Boo is a bit of a bore, Justin’s surprisingly good voice work saves it. They are both exactly like their original versions, both in terms of writing and acting.
While I had issues with Yogi’s “Arc”, he provides the films funniest moments. Everything to do with Yogi himself, is decently funny and gives us the better written moments, for the most part.
I like that they gave Yogi an Arc about being a smart bear, but it didn’t go anywhere. At the end, things are the same, only Smith tolerates it more. So the moral is, keep annoying people as long as you sometimes do the right thing! .
..Eh, I’ve heard worse morals but with the ending, it feels odd.
Maybe the sequel will do it better, if it it ever happens. It made money, so it has to happen at this point. So Yogi stole the show, but the rest?
Hit or miss. The cliches with the Mayor were fine since he never annoyed me, but being very hammy and fun. However, pretty much anything the movie makes up on it’s own drags the film down in a way.
Ranger Smith is okay, if a bit of a bore at points. I cared about him enough when it comes to the main plot, but the romance….was not good.
Rachel was a very pointless character, who only existed to drive the plot and put in pointless romance. The romance itself is forced and if you re-wrote the script to remove it, the film would so much better.
The guy playing Smith is just fine. Not a total bore but not all that great either. Of the non evil human characters, Anna does provide the best performance by being her usual self, even if her character sucks.
Jones is pretty pointless, and in the end his arc went nowhere, and I swear TJ Miller did his best Jason Lee impression.
With that, you may be wondering why I still enjoy this film if I have so many big issues. Well, the film is kind of generic, but it’s never ANNOYINGLY generic.
The jokes rarely go into pandering Territory, for the most part. And as cliché as it is, it doesn’t hit the “OH, THEY ARE REALLY DOING THAT?!” mark .Even the romance being rushed helps the film so it doesn’t dwell on that too much.
There’s nothing amazing, but there is nothing awful at all. It really isn’t as bad as people say.
Yes, it has a cliché story and hit or miss performances, but the voice work is great, the jokes with Yogi are usually funny, and it sticks to the spirit of the original cartoon instead of making it HIP 4 DA KIZ YO.
I’ll be giving this the same review as Billy Madison. I appreciate it for what it avoids more than I like it, but it’s still harmless fun.
Anyone who puts this on a worst list instead of The Smurfs is really ….a cool person and I respect Ani-Mat’s opinion.
So, to answer my tagline: Yes, it is smarter than the average live action adaptation. Grade: B-
So there you go, I did an okay movie and a fun film.
…A bad one is next, right?
…Well, at least it’s not Smurfs 2. See ya!