Mark Reviews Movies


1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Eric Brevig

Cast: Anna Faris, Tom Cavanagh, T.J. Miller, Nathan Corddry, Andrew Daly, the voices of Dan Akroyd, Justin Timberlake

MPAA Rating: PG (for some mild rude humor)

Running Time: 1:23

Release Date: 12/17/10

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Review by Mark Dujsik | December 16, 2010

Jellystone Park is in trouble. Seems it hasn't been able to meet its operating budget for a decade, and a local mandate states that any government agency in such a situation must be rezoned. To make up for the budget deficit, the park must raise $30,000 within the next week when the fiscal year ends. In case that setup makes you think otherwise, yes, this is a kid's movie.

For Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh), the answer is simple: It's over. Visiting documentary filmmaker Rachel (Anna Faris) has a better plan: Hold a festival to honor Jellystone's centennial anniversary. The fireworks are sure to bring people in, and the flyers, signs, airplane banner, and promise of a ten-buck discount on a year-long membership won't hurt.

The only thing that Smith thinks might harm the festival is the appearance of the park's local picnic—sorry—pic-a-nic-basket-stealing, green-hat-wearing, be-collared-and-tied, brown bear Yogi (voice of Dan Akroyd, doing the voice that Phil in the cubicle next to you can do just as well) and his common-sense-loving partner Boo Boo (voice of Justin Timberlake), who wears a bowtie.

Smith believes that Yogi and Boo Boo's penchant for robbing people of their food is a detriment to their visit. Boo Boo wants them to forage for food like normal bears, but Yogi is more intelligent than the regular bear and argues for elaborate plans like building a glider out of stolen campers' property or constructing a catapult within a table that launches food directly into their waiting paws. Try to guess what happens when a family (which looks suspiciously like the family that they just stole from) places a pie on the table. I'll give you a hint: Yogi's face is directly in front of a bull's-eye. I'll bet you didn't see that one coming, did you?

I imagine Yogi and Boo Boo having this debate between foraging and thieving for eternity, locked in that age-old struggle between self-reliance and selfishness, survival of the fittest and cheating the system. I like the idea and not just for its absurdist leanings. It also means they can continue having the same argument, and I can walk away from it for as long as I'd like, knowing that there is some kind of constant in the universe. So constant, in fact, that I need never return to it.

Let's return to the festival. The fireworks are a nice idea. The kids like them, and parents like bringing their kids to them. You know what else the kids and adults might like that Jellystone Park has? There are two talking brown bears on the grounds. Even Rachel, an animal expert who's spent six months with brown bears in their den, lived with snow leopards, and observed gorillas in their natural habitat, thinks that a talking bear is rare, yet Smith sees Yogi as a nuisance, a disadvantage, a thing that keeps people from coming to his park.

It's a surprise, really, that Boo Boo, the sole voice of reason in a microcosm of people whose ability to tie their shoes is a shock, doesn't mention the fact that even one talking bear might be a point of interest for potential visitors. Certainly Smith's employee Ranger Jones (T.J. Miller) might not think of it. After all, he betrays Smith's trust by teaming up with the power-hungry Mayor Brown (Andrew Daly) to sabotage the festival so that the mayor can close the park and sell the logging rights. Jones takes the deal with the devil so he can become Head Ranger of a park that will be closed.

He's not too bright, so maybe the talking bear idea is over his head, too. Certainly, though, Rachel, who not only recognizes that the fact that Yogi and Boo Boo can talk is kind of, sort of unique but also has the mental capacity to remember she fitted Boo Boo with a camera in his bowtie when it's important to the plot, might have thought of it. Even Yogi remembers that he built that glider just when the gang could really use it to cross the treacherous rapids. Heck, Ranger Smith can even say exactly what is happening. When the group falls into the river, he shouts, "We're heading toward the rapids," and after that's over, he announces to everyone that there's a waterfall up ahead.

Maybe I'm just not as smart as the characters in Yogi Bear, but I think advertising the existence of talking bears could have worked. They wouldn't even have to shake their booties to "Baby Got Back" and "Don't Stop Believing," and for that alone, it would have been worth a shot.

Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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