Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Stars: Justin Timberlake, Dan Aykroyd, Tom Cavanagh, Anna Faris, Andrew Daly, T.J. Miller, Nate Corddry
The Story: Yogi Bear (voiced by Aykroyd) and his loyal companion Boo Boo (Timberlake) live a carefree life in Jellystone Park, where they spend most of their time trying to steal picnic – or ‘pic-a-nic’ as Yogi says – baskets for the treats they contain.
When a greedy politician (Daly) and his right-hand man (Corddry, brother of Rob) scheme to close the park for commercial development, the two talking bears have to help the park rangers (Cavanagh, Miller) and a friendly documentary filmmaker (Faris) thwart the bad guys!
The Buzz: Timberlake, of all people, doing the voice for Boo Boo – sensational! Apparently Timberlake had imitated cartoon characters while learning to sing at a young age; hence he came into this role well prepared.
In terms of vocal talents and animation, this 3D film directed by Eric Brevig (Journey to the Center of the Earth) gets it spot on. Aykroyd, who seems to be channelling an old Jewish man, and the unrecognisable Timberlake do faithful impressions of the cartoon characters’ voices.
The look of the two bears is also of very good quality. Technology now allows for the realistic rendering of thick bushy fur and fine hairs that make up the features of the bears; that these features interact seamlessly with animated water and live-action scenes is impressive.
Their CGI-ed facial expressions are also able to convey true emotion, to a degree that should not be discounted.
While the film has a simplistic plot for the young ones to understand and develop pathos for, and plot turns that can be spotted a mile away, it has enough comic talent on hand to keep the adults engaged. Daly, in particular, is a riot as the smarmy mayor with dreams of running for governor, dreams fuelled by the plot to destroy Jellystone.
Sure, there is plenty of slapstick comedy – Yogi falls down or crashes into things several times in the opening ten minutes – and cheap thrills because this has after all been adapted from a cartoon, but the film isn’t built completely on repetitive low-brow fare – surprisingly, there wasn’t a single fart joke.
The film moves along briskly, running just about 80 minutes – a huge plus for adults with kids in tow – and it doesn’t seem to try too hard to garner laughs or be cute. Boo Boo, in particular, is easy to adore, even if he is just a short, mild-mannered animated bear.
Some inane dialogue has to be stomached, but all in all, this is good clean fun for the family and not at all hard to bear, even for the more cynical grown-ups among us.
Yong Shu Chiang, otherwise known as SC, is a freelance editor and writer. He reviewed movies for Juice magazine when he was in college, and was the resident film reviewer for Today Newspaper from 2003 to 2005. He has also reviewed movies for Prime Time Morning on Channel NewsAsia.