Fifty-plus years after Hanna-Barbera created one of their most watched and adored characters, Yogi Bear is about to burst onto the big screen... well, not so much burst as meander.
Back in 1961, a loveable character and a catchy catchphrase was almost all you needed to keep the kids entertained, but the advancement of technology means that it takes a lot more to keep today's audiences glued.
The TV series may have ended, but Yogi Bear is back with sidekick Boo Boo and age-old catchphrase "I'm smarter than the average bear" - especially at nabbing "pic-a-nic baskets".
However, unlike the cartoon characters of yore, Yogi is now a 3D, live-action-mixed-with-computer-animation version of his old hand-drawn, flatter yet applauded self. Plus he's now voiced by Dan Aykroyd, who has stepped into the shoes of Daws Butler. Butler, in creating Yogi, channelled the voice of famous American actor Art Carney. Don Messick has been replaced surprisingly by Justin Timberlake as the voice of Boo Boo Bear - not a pop culture union that would automatically spring to mind but it works.
The duo is back causing trouble for Ranger Smith (Cavanagh) who has enough trouble of his own with Mayor Brown (Daly) threatening to close down Jellystone Park. With the help of documentary-maker and fellow nature-lover Rachel (Faris), they unite to stop the power-hungry Mayor in his tracks.
While Daly's Mayor is entertaining as he tips his hat to his 'Eastbound and Down' character, it’s a mystery as to why Faris and Cavanagh signed up to be so underused. Their characters are on-screen throughout the film yet have little to do and their on-screen romance is flatter than the original animations. Where was 'The Yogi Bear Show's Cindy when you needed her? Aykroyd and Timberlake are reported to be big Yogi fans and do a good job with the limited material.
Given the recent overuse of 3D, it's hard not to be cynical about or sick of the effect, but director Eric Brevig puts it to good use here with plenty of flying objects to duck, dive and wonder at. He also blends the live action with computer animation seamlessly. However, it would appear that the 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' helmer dropped the ball when it comes to the story.
The problem is 'Yogi Bear' has fallen between two logs; too old-fashioned and safe for modern, young audiences and too modern- looking and sounding for fans of the original. The biggest problem, though, is the plot or lack thereof - the story is soooo slow that the mere 80-minute running time drags.
The highlight of this movie is the new 3D Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner short, 'Rabid Rider', which precedes it - make of that what you will.