Yogi Bear (Blu-ray)
It’s rare that I would ever walk out of a movie and feel offended on behalf of someone else, but that’s exactly how I felt for all the kids in the world who had to suffer through YOGI BEAR. Is this really where Hollywood thinks kids are intellectually these days? Has Hollywood lost all respect for the youth of the world? Has the once proud Hanna-Barbera Productions completely lost all self-respect? If this film is any indication, the answer to all those questions is a resounding “yes”.
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to the character of Yogi Bear is that his cartoon was one of the more lazy and uninteresting cartoons, even when compared to other Saturday Morning programming in the 80’s. So the source material for the screenwriters wasn’t exactly thrilling. But the basic premise of the cartoon (a talking bear and his sidekick trying to steal picnic baskets in Jellystone park) is kept alive in the film with a “save the park” plot thrown in to justify the 80 minute runtime.
I almost feel guilty criticizing this, because I never got the impression that anyone in the film thought it was anything but ridiculous. Tom Cavanagh and Anna Faris give what might be their worst performances of their careers, each of which is filled with poor performances. But the bad live-action couldn’t compare to the horrific use of CGI in the film. Yogi and Boo Boo looked…off, but the worst part of the film was the constant use of green screen in place of an actual forest. Yes, rather than travel to any one of a thousand parks across America, the filmmakers decided to have the actors stand in front of a green screen and pretend they were in the forest. That meant that in some scenes, we had a human actor, a green screen and a CGI bear. The actors could have also used some grounding tools to focus their line of sight and so they knew where to stand. As it was, the actors and Yogi/Boo never made eye contact and any time they touched or interacted it looked like the actors were blind as they stared into an empty space.
As for the script; it’s for kids…I get that. But there are plenty of movies in the world that were made for kids that don’t treat kids like they’re completely incapable of grasping a basic plot. Perhaps the saddest part of this script is that it took three screenwriters to write it. Congratulations, Jeffrey Ventimilla, Joshua Sternin and Brad Copeland; you got a screenwriting credit on one of the worst written movies of 2010. I think the actors and CGI animators would have been better off improvising the whole film.
Every movie has at least one redeeming quality and I guess this one has the voice-work of Dan Aykroyd. He didn’t razzle-dazzle or anything, but he held true to the character and provided a few chuckles here and there. But this film needed a lot of help from a lot of different places. Saying this is a kids movie is not an acceptable excuse and it’s insulting to kids. Hollywood has to learn that just because something is made for kids, it doesn’t mean it has to be mind-numbingly dumb.
Video (1080p High Def.): The beautiful video transfer is actually a detriment to the film because every CGI flaw is accentuated. The halo effect that tends to occur when actors stand in front of a green screen is clearly visible on the Blu-ray, as is the choppy CGI.
Audio (5.1 DTS-HD): The dialogue was sufficient for the film, although it could have used a little more “oomph” during “action” (I use that term loosely) scenes.
Spending the Day at Jellystone Park (32:58): This is an interactive feature for the kiddies where you can click on various objects in Jellystone Park including picnic baskets. In here you’ll also find nine featurettes and five short clips about with the cast in character.
Yogi Bear Mash-Up (4:01): Another little featurette that amounts to nothing.
Are You Smarter than the Average Bear?: Another interactive thing for your kids this time in memory game form.
Looney Tunes: Rabid Rider (3:02): This is a short Looney Tunes cartoon that is far superior than the film it is attached to.