Yogi always was "smarter than the average bear." But parents and grandparents dragging tykes along to the 3-D big-screen
will probably remember him as funnier than the average bear, too. Or funnier than this.
A computer-animated Yogi and Boo Boo inhabit a real-world Jellystone Park, with the unfunny Tom Cavanagh as Ranger Smith and nothing-funny-to-play Anna Faris as the ranger's love interest.
The 3-D in this film from the director of Journey to the Center of the Earth (Eric Brevig) is used to hurl soft drinks, water skis, and the contents of various pic-a-nic baskets into the viewers' laps. Brilliant.
And Yogi and Boo Boo? They're passably voiced by Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake, two actors given virtually no amusing lines in the multiwriter script (a Wild Hogs alumnus among them). "Pic-a-nic baskets may be delicious on the lips, but they're a lifetime on the hips" is what passes for a zinger here. Yogi-Aykroyd can proclaim, "My melon is full-a smart juice," but anybody over the age of 4 is going to think, "And?"
With Cavanagh, an actor going for the indoor record for most TV series canceled underneath him, as the bears' foil, you know this isn't going to sink or swim based on charm, charisma, or dazzling repartee between him and digital bears. Kid-friendly sight gags and slapstick must carry the day - Yogi water-skiing, Yogi and Boo Boo flying a basket-snatching glider, Yogi building assorted other basket-catapulting devices. There's not a laugh in the lot.
Faris, the once-and-future "House Bunny," hints at a promising direction this might have taken. She's a nature-nut documentary filmmaker who has lived with orangutans and assorted other critters and speaks "Brown Bear." Instead of hanging with her, we follow the evil mayor who somehow has gotten the deed to Jellystone National Park and plans to close the money-losing facility and clear-cut the place.
Unless Yogi, the Ranger, Boo Boo, and filmmaker Rachel can save the day, of course.
Weak as they've been, the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies are operating on a higher plane than this. The best you can say about this Yogi Bear is that he's harmless. No animal was harmed in the making of this picture except the one Hanna-Barbera made a bundle on almost 50 years ago.
Yogi Bear * (out of four stars)
Directed by Eric Brevig. With Tom Cavanagh and Anna Faris, and the voices of Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake. Distributed by Warner Bros.
Running time: 1 hour, 15 mins.
Parent's guide: PG (mild rude humor)
Playing at: area theatersEndText