The story centres on Yogi (voiced by Dan Aykroyd) and his put-upon pal Boo-Boo's (Justin Timberlake) exploits in Jellystone Park as they chase after tourists' picnic baskets and evade the attention of Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh). Jellystone's future is in the balance, however, as the sleazy Mayor Brown (Andrew Daly) is looking to close down the park for profit and use it as a springboard to become governor. A documentary filmmaker, Rachel (Anna Faris), who's arrived to capture the talking bears in action, joins forces with Ranger Smith and his dim-witted partner Ranger Jones (T.J. Miller) to save Jellystone. The gang's plans for a fundraising centennial celebration go awry when Yogi's water-skiing antics send fireworks shooting into the crowd, all but condemning Jellystone to the bulldozers.
Of course, the good guys emerge victorious by the end as Yogi Bear puts forth its message of ecological preservation. It's admirable for a kids' flick, but also happens to make it exactly the same movie as last year's equally risible nature-com Furry Vengeance. Come to think of it, Brendan Fraser might have injected a bit of verve and spirit into the live-action elements as the Ranger. TV star Cavanagh is anonymous throughout and Faris - so often very good in poor movies - seems uncomfortable interacting with her digital co-stars.
It's not all bad, though. The dynamic between Yogi and Boo-Boo generates a few chuckles - Timberlake in particular plays the hangdog sidekick with a mixture of charm and quiet melancholy. But it's no surprise to see him sweep this movie under the carpet following the success of The Social Network. Yogi himself is a precursor to classic sitcom characters like Fred Flinstone and Homer Simpson - completely unaware of his own failings. Credit should go to Aykroyd (who shrugged aside pleas from Daws Butler fans to imitate the original voice of Yogi) for investing the character with just the right amount of deluded self-importance so that he doesn't come across as unlikable. Yet in the end it's not enough to save this unimaginative redo, which appears to exist solely because new technology allows it rather than any great desire to tell a good story. Smarter than your average family movie? Unfortunately not.
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