Yogi Bear (UK - BD)
Marcus brings along a guest reviewer to visit the bears of Jellystone Park on BD...
Jellystone Park, home of Yogi Bear (Dan Aykroyd) and Boo-Boo (Justin Timberlake) is on the verge of being shut down to develop the land. With the one hundred year anniversary coming up Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh) must hatch a plan to save the park, but he might just need the help of the two bears that are always stealing the park’s pic-a-nic baskets.
Yogi Bear is an easy target. It’s yet another classic cartoon that’s getting a CGI reboot for a big screen adventure and the gags are about as broad as they come. But let’s step back for a bit. This Yogi Bear isn’t really all that offensive if you think about it. They haven’t gone all “hoody and shades cool” like they did with the Chipmunks, they haven’t stretched out the premise too thinly like they did with Garfield and it's really only the larger scale plot and a love interest for Ranger Smith and the Mayor trying to shut down the park and the fight to be head ranger and... hey wait a minute. The old show was about Yogi and Boo Boo wasn't it? Yeah, they've totally missed the good parts of the old TV show haven't they? With the two bears having a much smaller on screen ratio to the not so enjoyable humans taking up the screen time.
Now I’m not saying this is a bad movie—it's not—but it's not a good movie either. It feels cheap, it barely raises a chuckle and it’s consistently a bit flat but from my memory of watching Yogi Bear as a kid, the character seems pretty much the same as do his hi-jinks and I’m not going to knock that. Yogi pulls the same ol’ stuff with Boo-Boo in tow. Aykroyd does a good enough job to keep the character as he always was and Boo-Boo feels the same as ever too. I’m not sure on the casting for Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh will always be J.D.’s brother in Scrubs for me) and as much as I want to get annoyed that Anna Faris did this movie she is, as always, a delight on screen and still offers up a limited amount of laughs for what’s she’s got to play with.
However, I’m not the audience member this is targeted at. It’s aimed at the kids, so as a guest reviewer let me introduce you to my youngest daughter, May. She’s six and her current favourite movie ever is Ponyo and pretty much from trailer one she wanted to see Yogi Bear. This is May’s second time of seeing the movie and this is her thoughts…
What made you want to see Yogi Bear so much?
May: It was a surprise that it was about a bear and a little bear and it looked funny.
What do you think of the Yogi Bear movie now you’ve seen it twice?
May: It's very good because I know Yogi Bear and Boo Boo now. I hardly ever laugh at it though.
What’s your favourite bit?
May: The bit when Yogi and Boo Boo dance is funny and how they steal picnic baskets is funny. I like how Yogi says Pic-a-nic.
Anything else you want to say about it?
May: I want them to make another one but I want it to be longer and there should be more Yogi and Boo Boo.
So there you go. The audience has spoken. So expect Yogi Bear 2 Jellystone Boogaloo in Summer 2013.
Well say what you want about the movie, the transfer here is just about as bright as they come. Beautiful blue skies, vibrant green grass and trees and of course a cuddly brown bear with a green hat and scarf at the centre of it. Every shot feels like a warm summer's day and the natural lighting makes for a nice bit of detail in a grain free, crisp image that fits the style of the movie perfectly.
The Jellystone exterior shots are by far the most impressive thing about the transfer with every leaf and twig popping off the screen into your living room. The CGI work for Yogi and Boo Boo fits into the boosted colour of their surrounding well. Skin tones for the human co-stars tend to look a little better in the interior shots as the bright lighting is reined in a little and skin textures and blue eyes really show off here as well.
It’s almost sickly sweet how bright and cheerful this transfer is (the night scenes aren’t even black but opt for a bright unnatural blue instead) and while the style of the film looks low budget straight to video sequel as opposed to high budget family adventure the HD presentation makes everything look strikingly vivid and bursting with colour.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is alive with atmospheric sound. Jellystone is full of crickets, birds and what not but the dialogue and jaunty score lives more in the front speakers and feels quite simple in its design. There’s the odd stand out sound effect, such as Yogi tapping the Boo Boo cam or the screeching of tires in the Park Ranger's vehicle or that god awful Yogi and Boo dance to “I like big butts” (urgghh) but this really is a pretty standard track.
'Looney Toons: Rabid Rider' (03:07) is an all new CGI Roadrunner short and it looks damn pretty without losing the charm of the original designs. That said the sensibilities when new animators try to capture what made these old shorts so much fun seem a little off as per usual and for all its prettiness this doesn’t feel quite as tight as the old toons.
‘Spending a Day at Jellystone Park’ is an interactive map of Jellystone park and at each location we are given the option to watch a short video where characters do little songs or fake advertisements or show off little featurettes about the making of the movie. None go much over five minutes and are all pretty fluffy.
‘Yogi Bear Mash Up’ (03:37) is a featurette cutting between the old cartoon and the new movie with the cast talking about what they love about the character. There's also a game, 'Are You Smarter Than the Average Bear?'.
Lastly, this is a Triple Play edition and offers up a DVD and Digital copy. Also for all you 3D'ers out there, there's a 3D version on offer too.
Yogi Bear is fairly typical. It's short enough not to outstay its welcome and on a purely nostalgic level captures most of the elements of the old cartoon well enough (even if the human stuff is dross for the most part).
To wrap up I’ll try and work out where it fits in the cartoon to big screen makeover stakes by letting my daughter May give the final judgement. Is it better than Garfield? Yes. Is it better than Chipmunks? Same. Is it better than the Scooby-Doo movies? Same. Do you think the upcoming Smurfs movie looks better than Yogi Bear? I don't know.
So there you have it, a six year old says that Yogi Bear is about as good as The Chipmunks and the Scooby Doo movies. Yup, just about the same assessment as me.
* Note: The below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable for all
Release Date: 27th June 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Danish, Dolby Digital 5.1 Finnish, Dolby Digital 5.1 Icelandic, Dolby Digital 5.1 Italian, Dolby Digital 5.1 Norwegian, Dolby Digital 5.1 Swedish, Audio Descriptive Service English
Subtitles: English, Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish
Extras: Interative Jellystone, Yogi Mash Up, New Looney Toon short.
Easter Egg: No
Director: Eric Brevig
Cast: Tom Cavanagh, Anna Faris, Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake
Genre: Comedy and Family
Length: 80 minutes
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