Tapping into the family film market is always on the minds of studio executives, and in the pursuit of profits, they've once again turned a famous cartoon into a live-action production. 'Yogi Bear' arrived just in time for the holidays, and was heavily marketed my Warner Brothers as the must see family film for the season. Grossing nearly $100 million at the domestic box office, 'Yogi' seemed to fulfill the studio's wishes.
'Yogi Bear' is of course the tale of that talking, picnic basket-snatching bear Yogi (Dan Aykroyd), who happens to be smarter than the average, well, you know. Yogi lives in Jellystone National Park with his companion and sidekick Boo Boo (Justin Timberlake). Together, their sole mission is to steal as many picnic baskets as possible from the campers of Jellystone. Watching over the park is ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh) and his assistant park ranger, ranger Jones (T.J. Miller). The rangers are in a constant battle with Yogi, trying to keep him from disturbing the guests of the park. The story centers on the quest of Mayor Brown (Andrew Daly) to rezone Jellystone and sell land to corporations so the town can climb out of deep financial debt. Ranger Smith has until the end of the month to raise $20,000 and keep Jellystone alive. To do this, he'll need the help of Yogi, Boo Boo, ranger Jones, and documentary filmmaker Rachel (Anna Faris).
First off, it's worth stating up front that this film is clearly intended for a younger audience, adults looking to watch this one without children around will probably have a difficult time stomaching 80 minutes of a talking brown bear. I can see how this would appeal to children though. 'Yogi Bear' is filled to the brim with slapstick humor that kids should enjoy, from numerous bear puns to people getting hurt in cartoonish ways. I would also say the voice casting of Aykroyd and Timberlake was a pretty good move for a children's movie. Aykroyd actually does a pretty nice job delivering the lines, and while Timberlake may sound like a congested, whiney kid, that actually embodies Boo Boo fairly accurately from the original cartoon. This film clearly aims to get some laughs out of the kids and don't get me wrong, that isn't a bad thing, I'm sure there are far worse productions for kids to watch than 'Yogi Bear.'
Having said that, now I can look at this film from the perspective of an adult, and I must say, this is a flick I won't soon be watching again. A successful family film is one where the adults can find some amount of enjoyment in a film clearly aimed at adults; it's a nice touch and generally allows for a much more tolerable viewing experience. Unfortunately, 'Yogi Bear' does not fall in this category of film. I found absolutely nothing to enjoy in the film. I found the jokes to be very childish. The story to be extremely unoriginal. The human characters hard to relate to. I feel the film had a real opportunity with the mayor Brown character to connect with an adult audience, he is clearly the villain and out to destroy Jellystone, why not toss in a few subtle characteristics that adults could enjoy? At least this is only 80 minutes long, but man, the writing and direction on this one is just lazy.
Overall, what can I really say about 'Yogi Bear?' As an adult, I find no entertainment value in this film and will likey never watch it again. If you have children, this is a film they will probably enjoy, and presents a good opportunity to spend some time with the kids. Everyone else would be encouraged to avoid this one and find something a bit more substantial.
As unoriginal and boring as the movie may be, at least it looks good on Blu-ray. 'Yogi Bear' arrives on Blu-ray with an impressive transfer that should please the young ones and hard-core fans alike (if any exist). Warner Brothers presents 'Yogi Bear' in a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer (1.78:1 ratio) with overall great results.
'Yogi Bear' lends itself to high definition pretty well. Jellystone park is filled with many bright greens, deep blue skies and water, and all these colors shine brightly here. Skin tones and clothing textures of the non-animated characters are also equally impressive. Texture is also strong in forest objects like the bark of trees or dirt of the forest floor. Digital artifacts appear to be non-existent throughout, with the exception of a few slight instances of noise popping up.
Detail is also impressive in the animation of Yogi and Boo Boo. You can easily spot the individual hairs that make up Yogi's fur. More impressive is the accurate animation of the fur reacting to elements such as wind and water. It is generally very realistic.
If I have one complaint, it would be that the animated characters appear to be a bit shiny and glossy at times, not blending in as well with their non animated costars. This is understandable seeing as this is a kids movie, I don't think kids would quite enjoy seeing Yogi as a photo-realistic brown bear! But for the adults, it can provide a bit of a disconnect from the film.
As with the video presentation, the audio also delivers a great effort. Warner's provides 'Yogi Bear' with an engaging 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Dialogue is clear and centered throughout, never losing consistency from high to low registers. Kids will have no problem listening to Yogi and Boo Boo cook up plans to steal picnic baskets. 'Yogi Bear' also provides several sequences that will take full advantage of your surround system and shake your floor at times. Overall, this is a loud and fun mix that Children will enjoy, it's filled with slapstick bear humor and few immersing effects that will keep the kids engaged.
'Yogi Bear' only carries one feature over to the Blu-ray from the DVD of the film, here is what you can expect.
Oh boy, I don't really know about 'Yogi Bear.' On one end, I wish the producers had used the fan made alternate ending and spared adults the possibility of a sequel. On the other hand, it's easy to see how a film like this can appeal to children, and in all honesty, this is a film with some lessons kids can actually learn. So parents and older siblings looking to show some young ones a good time, bite the bullet and pop in 'Yogi Bear.' Aside from the film, this Blu-ray release features very good audio and video, as well as a few extras the kids will really enjoy. This film comes recommended to any parents looking to add another family flick to their collection, for everyone else curious about the film, give it a rent.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.