What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this broad comedy based on the Yogi Bear cartoons is age-appropriate for most elementary schoolers. There are some cartoonish, slapstick disasters (people falling, pies hitting Yogi in the face, people evacuating a campsite after fireworks start flying everywhere, etc.), and some insults (such as "stupid" and "loser"), but other than that, things are pretty tame. One couple does flirt and eventually shares a brief kiss, but there's no overt sexuality. The consumerism is also surprisingly mild, with only a few cars as product placements. Amid the silly humor, kids may learn how valuable state and national parks are and why it's fun to explore the outdoors with your family. Note: The 3-D version of the movie makes some parts feel more immediate/lifelike, but it doesn't have the "scary" factor that other 3-D flicks do.
What's the story?
Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh) runs Jellystone Park, which is known for being home to a talking, picnic basket-stealing, smarter-than-the-average bear named Yogi (voiced by Dan Aykroyd), as well as his diminutive best pal, Boo Boo (Justin Timberlake). Smith and his slightly dimwitted deputy, Ranger Jones (T.J. Miller), are visited by Rachel (Anna Faris), a nature documentarian who wants to capture Yogi and Boo Boo's antics for a film. But the ambitious, unethical Mayor Brown (Andrew Daly) decides that in order to successfully run for governor, he must rezone Jellystone for "agricultural purposes" to help turn the near-bankrupt city's budget crisis into a surplus. The only glitch in the mayor's plan is that he can't take control of Jellystone if it's profitable as a park, so Ranger Smith -- with Rachel, Yogi, and Boo Boo's help -- attempts to raise thousands of dollars in one week, before the park is closed to the public forever.
Is it any good?
YOGI BEAR may be known as the smarter-than-the-average bear, but this frankly dumb movie has neither the nostalgia factor necessary for parents to really enjoy it nor the visuals to justify the 3-D surcharges at movie theaters. Sure, young kids who are just starting to understand comedy will laugh a few times -- especially because the movie stars two talking bears -- but parents will probably wonder why yet another cultural touchstone from their youth has been remade in the broadest, least original way imaginable.
It's a shame; the comic actors are all talented performers, but there's just no point to the story. We've seen this same plot line (save the animal/park/zoo/habitat) a dozen different times. The low point of the uninspired dialogue has to be when Faris, playing eco-friendly filmmaker Rachel, stares directly at the camera and says "I love this park!" Aykroyd will always be a favorite comedian from the '70s and '80s, and he deserves so much more than this cheesy, forgettable save-the-forest flick.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the movie's environmentally friendly message. What point is it making about parks? Do you agree?
Compare this movie to others based on cartoons. Which other cartoons do you think should be adapted for the big screen?
Was Ranger Jones actually ready to be named head ranger? What happens when you're allowed to do something you're not mature enough to do yet?