Friday, December 17, 2010

"Yogi Bear" no pic-a-nic

Yogi Bear (2010) 
82 min., rated PG.

Churning out Saturday morning cartoons into live-action movies is like producing new colors of Gummi Bears at the theater concessions. "The Flintstones" is really the only evidence, committed to memory, that worked. But there's money to be made and we have "Yogi Bear," a dull, lazy, thoroughly disposable movie that should've remained in hibernation. Surprisingly, the three writers behind this bore have penned an even more witless effort than the only-mediocre "Scooby-Doo," "Garfield," and "Alvin and the Chipmunks" movies. Anyone could have done it but Dan Aykroyd lends his voice to the 1958 Hanna-Barbera cartoon Yogi, the talking, tie-wearing brown bear that steals “pic-a-nic” baskets from families in Jellystone National Park. At least Justin Timberlake cutely (and unrecognizably) voices Yogi's sidekick Boo-Boo. Tom “desperate-for-work-after-TV” Cavanagh earnestly plays Ranger Smith, who's losing his park to a crooked mayor (even though the park is nationally owned). But with the help of a perky documentarian (smiling-until-she's-blue-in-the-face Anna Faris) and his bear-y pals, you know the conflict and tension will be resolved with a happy ending.

One point for "Yogi Bear" is that it's predominantly light on crass humor (one booger and one pee joke were counted) and no pop-culture name-dropping, but then again it's light on humor altogether, and all the silly slapstick and green-screened action exists for the 3-D nuisance (a white water raft adventure sequence!). Yogi and Boo-Boo dancing to the now-outdated “Baby Got Back” might arouse the one smile, but even that's an easy, uninspired joke. And T.J. Miller offers plenty of idiot shtick as a boy-scout's-honoring ranger. If you remember that Yogi originated in “The Huckleberry Hound Show,” you aren't the target audience. "Yogi Bear" will be lunchbox fodder for the small fries and not quite the pic-a-nic for their adult chaperones. Maybe Snagglepuss will show up in the squeakquel, but let's keep our paws crossed there isn't one in pre-production because already after this, "The Smurfs" is next in line. Families are better off sticking with this summer's berry rewarding "Toy Story 3." 

Grade: D +

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