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Feature Film

“Yogi Bear” Getting Bashed by Critics

What did you expect? The Hollywood trades are out with their luke-warm reviews of the live action-CG Yogi Bear feature, which opens this Friday, Dec. 17th.

Justin Chang in Variety (review blocked by a pay-wall) says:

“Neither smarter nor dumber than the average family-friendly comedy, “Yogi Bear” is a bland and innocuous small-fry outing that retains a measure of the original Hanna-Barbera cartoon’s charm, though scarcely enough to justify the time, expense and visual-effects trickery it must have taken to inflate an endearing 2D cartoon into a dopey 3D extravaganza….

“…Aykroyd and Timberlake do fine approximations of their characters’ distinctive cartoon voices and speech patterns; teens and adults in particular can keep themselves amused by imagining Timberlake, in one of his more self-effacing career moves, having to record lines like “I have a problem with baked beans” in Boo Boo’s trademark nasal delivery. By comparison, the not-quite-photorealistic, borderline-alien look of these CGI bears is off-putting, the technological advancements of lifelike fur and detailed eye movements being no match for the clean, expressive lines of hand-drawn animation.”

Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter says:

“Poor Yogi Bear. At 52, he finally gets his first movie role and the film is likely to send viewers over the age of 10 into hibernation. The only worse 2010 animated feature also came from Warner Bros., Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, which only confirms the great irony that Warners, home to the greatest cartoon characters of all time, has lost touch with its own heritage…

“…the Bottom Line: A live-action/cartoon mix that’s misguided in just about every way.

  • rnigma

    I guess Honeycutt doesn’t know about “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear.”

    • David Breneman

      I’ve still got my copy of the “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear” EP Kellogg’s put out to promote that movie. It had excerpts from the soundtrack. But I never saw the film. (Our family didn’t go to a lot of movies when I was a kid.) Was it any good?

  • Darkblader

    Why am I not surprised?

  • Kirk has apparently never seen “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear.”

    • Anthrocoon

      Indeed, the reviewer above who said “first movie role” wasn’t aware apparently of Hey There It’s Yogi Bear,
      a theatrical release re-released via DVD a yr or two ago. I did see it via a posting (part by part) on YouTube. Wasn’t too bad, and I liked the Doug Goodwin music (“St. Louis”, “Whistle Your Way Back Home”)

  • Matt

    Wasn’t “Hey, There! It’s Yogi Bear!” a theatrical release? If so, this would be Yogi’s second theatrical film…

    • Yeah, it was certainly theatrical. As far as I know it was also the first feature-length cartoon directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. Warner Bros. could probably have gotten far better reviews just by re-issuing that one…

  • Steven M.

    I agree totally with those critics. This could be a sign that people are starting to see the truth about CG films.

    • Paul N

      Truth is subjective…

    • Can you seriously believe that a movie could be so bad that it makes you pine for the “clean, expressive lines”… of Hanna Barbera cartoons??

  • This is one of those cases where I’ve said, “Wait and See”.

    “Wait and See” doesn’t always mean that it’s good. It means give them a fair chance. Now that the impartial reviews are out, we know the outcome: It’s not a good movie.

    We waited. We (they) saw. Fair is fair.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Still it was a pain to wait this long anyway to know the truth I already knew a year ago.

  • “By comparison, the not-quite-photorealistic, borderline-alien look of these CGI bears is off-putting, the technological advancements of lifelike fur and detailed eye movements being no match for the clean, expressive lines of hand-drawn animation.”


    • Chris Sobieniak

      Glad someone at least see’s how DEAD those eyes were.

    • Ryoku89

      Well put, though from what I’ve seen I thought the characters were very jello-ish when they moved.

  • John A

    I agree with Justin Chang’s assessment, It’s nice to see someone outside of the handdrawn animation industry understands the simple charm of a nicely drawn character.

    “Hey There It’s Yogi Bear” was released by Columbia Pictures twice during the 1960s–once on its own and then it was rereleased a few years later on a double bill with “The Man Called Flintstone”. The film is currently available on DVD. Somebody ought to send Kirk a copy.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      The film also saw a re-release in the mid 80’s by Atlantic Releasing Corp’s subsidiary label “Clubhouse Pictures” as well. The DVD release that’s out will suffice for anyone wanting to see a Yogi Bear movie done right (albeit, almost 50 years ago).

  • Marc Baker

    I’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again. Some cartoons should stay cartoons should stay cartoons, and no amount of cutting edge technology will ever replace pencil, and paper.

  • Mark

    “I agree totally with those critics. This could be a sign that people are starting to see the truth about CG films.”

    Only when it’s not done well. The only people pining for “hand drawn animation” are animators. The general public is pining for movies worth seeing, hand drawn, live action, or not.

    • S-3

      I’ve seen a lot of movies I like in 2010- over 10, to be eaxct: at least 3 were in CGI (Despicable Me, Tangled, Megamind).

      Not all CGI movies are bad when they have good writing and characters and story to back up something animators are tired of (though I don’t blame them. Maybe if Hand-drawn was truly more profitable and cheaper to utilize…).

      However, to those depressed animators, I’m pulling for you to be the future say, of everything in this regard.

      Othar than that, Mark, this is a dead on statement.

  • No, this is NOT Yogi Bear’s second film. This is not a film.

    • Paul Dini

      Maybe a film in the “oily residue” definition of the word.

  • Jim B

    Saw an advance screening this Saturday morning. I believe my friend’s six year old son summed it up best when he crawled on to his daddy’s lap twenty minutes into the film and asked,”When is this gonna’ be over?”. This truly proves Roger Ebert’s old adage that no good film is too long and no bad film is too short. At just under 80 minutes “Yogi Bear” feels interminable.

    • purin

      Well, so much for the “Lighten up! It’s just for kids!” argument…

  • Norm

    Why would a modern trade journalist know about “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear?” It was made before 1980, so it isn’t on his radar.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Yeah, we should’ve knew full well of that, though in today’s world, a little research wouldn’t hurt to try.

  • Chuck Jones said that a 3D version of a 2D cartoon character is NOT the same character, plain and simple. It is somebody else. The faux vesion of anyone is not the real thing. Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera created appealing characters & stories whom we all loved watching in “limited/stylized” animation. They were “alive” and believable. It worked. I don’t want the fake version; I want the real thing.This use of cgi is insulting to the originals and it looks awful. It is false. That is not Yogi Bear, or BooBoo, but two phonies pretending. Busted!!

    • So, does that mean they didn’t drink large triple-thick Shamrock Shakes that turned 2D limited animation bears into CGI monsters when they signed the Happy Meal deal with McDonald’s?

    • Maxie

      And yet, Hanna and Barbera were involved in the production of the live-action Flintstones movies.

  • Holy CARP! I actually agree with the critics!

    Fire and brimstone! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

  • Trevor

    Sorry R&H dudes, I think this one was out of your control. Big animation hug

  • ding dong… no match for the clean expressive lines of 2D!!!!! Huarray in five directions.

    Also I never had the chance to say this anywhere yet but how about that ‘kitty galore’??? a gag name based on something alien to the entire audience and double hobbled by the PC brigade…. bollocks…. sorry for this completely unrelated yet entirely warranted (somewhere else) tirade

    • The truly sad thing about the Cats & Dogs sequel is that it’s another nail in Brad Peyton’s career coffin, after What It’s Like Being Alone.

      Back on the subject of Yogi Bear, I saw commercials yesterday promoting a contest sponsored by Natural Factors:


      Natural Factors is best known for the PGX brand of women’s diet pills. Not the most obvious tie-in for a kids’ movie, to be sure.

  • Kip W

    There’s something reminiscent of an Al Jaffee article from MAD, back when the magazine was somewhere around thirty cents (cheap) where Jaffee supposedly took children’s own designs for toys and painstakingly crafted actual models in three dimensions that embodied every flaw, crooked line, and unfeasible shape. Though I won’t put the HB cartoon designs in the same category as Jaffee’s faux-kiddie art, the principle is the same. Some things weren’t made to be three-dimensional, and realistic fur won’t help that a bit.

  • Darkblade

    If we are even lucky, this might bomb so badly it would stop production on the other junk like that Live-action bugs bunny film.

  • I hope you enjoy this alternate ending. I think it will make the whole movie better.


    The animator Edmund Earle and the time and effort he put into this was so worth the satisfaction you feel at the end.

    • I only came to the comments here to make sure that someone had linked to this video.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        I discovered this via Facebook, and glad I don’t have to say more than already mentioned!

      • the film would’ve been much better received if this was the real ending

  • Ratphink

    Well according to the commercials I saw all weekend “The critics are unanimous, Yogi Bear is great.” Course it’s followed by names of internet critics you’ve never heard of. ;)

    • Armond White perhaps?

    • John

      And reviews on this site written by someone not even making films.

    • Yeah and the quote is in big type and the name of the critic is in type too small to read. If it was The New York Times who said it was a great film you can bet the name would be front and center!

  • Bryan

    I thought the ending was good…


  • Films like this really are lowest common denominator filmmaking; take something the movie-going public saw as kids, remake it with as much pointless (but seemingly impressive) detail as you can muster, cram in some celebrities– even if you can’t tell it’s them, and top it off with a few shot of characters getting hit in the groin.

    I’d hope even the lowest of critics is above movies like that.

  • S-3

    Am I glad I saw that Youtube vid with Boo Boo killing Yogi then…
    that’s enough of this movie for me.

    It’s BS like this that makes me want to give up oon cartoons, and Hollywood, altogether.

    It’s also BS like this that makes me ashamed to be American- or alive for that matter…

  • Cyber Fox

    Go see TRON Legacy, It’ll be way better than Yogi Bear

  • Rachel

    Who greenlights these pictures? And why haven’t we banded together as one and slayed them?

    • James Wade

      I don’t know, but whoever this is better stop ruining our childhoods

  • Gray64

    Clearly, this was spawned by some executive casting about for an as-yet unexploited property to turn in to CGI. “Who haven’t we done? Inch-High Private Eye? No, nobody’s heard of him…what about Yogi Bear? Yeah, that’s it!”
    Strangley, I almost feel the worst for Dan Ackroyd and Justin Timberlake. From the sound of it, they actually took the time to come up with fair approximations of the original voice actors (particularly Timberlake). Too bad there was no better use for their efforts than THIS movie.

  • William

    “By comparison, the not-quite-photorealistic, borderline-alien look of these CGI bears is off-putting, the technological advancements of lifelike fur and detailed eye movements being no match for the clean, expressive lines of hand-drawn animation.”

    The crux of this statement reflects the basic nature of CGI when compared to hand-drawn, which we’ve seen so many times since Toy Story. I don’t understand why this even warrants mention.

  • David Gerstein

    The elephant in the room isn’t the models or the celebrities. It’s that both reviews note a preachy, illogical story that revolves around Mary Sue original characters and is cloying for no reason (a fuzzy Ranger Smith romance, played straight, brings in what part of what demographic, exactly?). Even from the most cynical money-minded perspective, it doesn’t make sense.

    “Children love a little naughtiness, especially when a rascal like Yogi is the star. But Yogi Bear plays everything coy and cute.” (Hollywood Reporter)

    In other words, this movie could be hand-drawn, look like Yowp-era H-B, and include no celebrities—and it would still flop, because Warner middle management is severely damaging to its family films, period. That’s a problem much bigger than Yogi.

  • is truee