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.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Yogi Bear' 3D comes packaged as a three disc set in a standard blue case. The first disc is the 2D Blu-ray with all 2D special features. The second disc is the 3D version of the film and the 3D special features. The third disc is the DVD/Digital copy disc of the film.
'Yogi Bear' 3D arrives on 3D Blu-ray day and date with the 2D release of the film. Warner Brothers has provided 'Yogi Bear' 3D with a stunning 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer that stands alongside some of the finest live-action releases yet.
The same strengths of the 2D release carry over to the 3D version. Colors remain strong. Textures are also very impressive in everything from skin tones to textures of clothing. The animation of Yogi and Boo Boo is very impressive. Detail is plentiful, you will notice the individual hairs of Yogi react realistically to the elements of Jellystone park. Again, my only complaint is that at times the animation of Yogi and Boo Boo doesn't blend in very well with the human characters. At times the characters appear a bit shiny and glossy, but the intended audience should have no problem overlooking this problem.
The 3D elements are also quite impressive with this release. Unlike many 3D blockbusters of 2010, 'Yogi Bear' was shot in 3D from the start and not converted in post production. That decision proves highly successful with this release. The most enjoyable effect was the added depth. Shots looking into the forest are truly impressive, you can really see the distance between trees. Aside from the depth, the 3D in this film is clearly aimed at children, as there are numerous shots designed with 3D in mind. Objects will pop out of your screen throughout the film such as Yogi's telescope in the start, Fireworks shooting out of your TV, or picnic basket items floating into your living room. I am not a fan of gimmick 3D, but I'm sure the kids will love it, and I must admit, at least it looks great! Ghosting is nearly non-existent, only showing up in a few sections of the film.
Overall, this is a first rate 3D video transfer. All the strengths of the 2D transfer carry over to this one and the 3D only serves to enhance the viewing experience. Personally, the 3D made the viewing experience a bit more tolerable for me and if it was able to do that for me, I can only imagine how much the kids will love it!
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.
'Yogi Bear' 3D pleasantly surprised me. I wont go as far as saying 3D made me love this movie, but I will say that I was definitely a bit more amused by the effect. So if you own 3D equipment and are looking for a movie to watch with the kids, the 3D version is the clear choice for maximum enjoyment for both young and old. Aside from the movie, this release also offers up a few fun extras that the kids should enjoy, especially the 3D features! This film comes recommended for anyone with the young ones in mind, for everyone else, I can't in good conscious recommend a purchase simply because of the excellent 3D. However, if you can find a way to rent a 3D Blu-ray movie, this may be worth a rental.
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.