Film Reviews

"Yogi Bear" Review: Not Bad -- if Your Expectations Are Low

Rock-bottom expectations are rewarded, sort of, in this update of Hanna-Barbera's necktied ursus, which hopes to outdo the live action/computer animation success of the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise by adding one more dimension. Yogi (who debuted in 1958 and was loosely based on The Honeymooners' Ed Norton) is voiced by Dan Aykroyd, unable to nail down the picnic stealer's Catskills-comedian delivery.

Justin Timberlake, however, flawlessly re-creates Boo Boo's adenoidal intonation. The obligatory creature ass-shaking to a past dance hit (here, "Baby Got Back") is blessedly brief, though 21st-century Yogi proves to be an unbearable mugger.

Still, the kiddies will learn an important civics lesson by following the main plot thread: Yogi tries to save Jellystone Park as Franklin City's Tea Party-ish mayor, prepping for a gubernatorial bid, plans to sell it off to logging interests. (Another teachable moment for tykes: Eating too many snacks in between meals will lead to Yogi's unenviable BMI.)

And though Yogi's foil, Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh, formerly of TV's Ed), barely registers as 1-D among the non-CG performers, adults will be thrilled to see Anna Faris as nature documentarian Rachel. Greeting Yogi by speaking in brown bear, the actress never fails to be seriously goofy.

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Melissa Anderson is the senior film critic at the Village Voice, for which she first began writing in 2000. Her work also appears in the publications of the Voice’s film partner, Voice Media Group: LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.