Tone and look of Yogi on the mark
South Waikato residents and scenery features throughout new film Yogi Bear. Fairfax movie reviewer Graeme Tuckett offers his opinion on the latest animated movie offering. Tokoroa turns out in style for Yogi Bear film
There were only 31 episodes of the original The Yogi Bear Show. They ran on American television in 1961 and have been repeated around the world ever since.
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera conceived the talking bear during the early years of their legendary animation company.
Around Yogi, Hannah and Barbera also produced Top Cat The Flintstones and The Jetsons.
Before tightening budgets forced the studio to lower its standards, a single 10 minute episode of any of these shows could take 26,000 hand-drawn frames.
Compromises, recycled sequences and simplified characters’ movements meant later Hanna Barbera product took only 1300 illustrations to tell the same story.
Times change and soon enough the golden age of early 60s kids’ cartoons was over.
Later, Hanna Barbera product – especially Wacky Races and The Smurfs – had the company maintaining a presence on the world’s television screens but those original episodes of The Yogi Bear Show are a small monument in television history to two men’s genius and artistry. They deserve to be respected.
Not that the fabulous pack of six year olds I watched the movie Yogi Bear with cared for any of that.
All they wanted was to be entranced and charmed and prodded into laughter by whatever the fat brown hairy thing with the hat and the funny voice was doing. (Not me. The bear.) And the bear did pretty well.
Yogi Bear sticks closely to the spirit of the television show: Jellystone Park, Ranger Smith, sidekick Boo Boo; all are present and correct.
The plot – saving the park from a rapacious mayor and a logging company – wasn’t too daft a way to fill in 80 minutes, while the characterisations and the voices were pretty much perfect.
Dan Ackroyd nails the Art Carney/ WC Fields’ quality of Daws Butler’s immortal original Yogi, while Justin Timberlake brings a lot of character and wit to his idiosyncratic take on Boo Boo.
I was surprised to find myself caring about this film, but I did, and I was happy.
The tone and the look of Yogi Bear are just as they should be. And the under-nine audience who the film was meant for were loving it. Which is all, really, that matters.
If you’ve already taken the nippers to Tangled, you can safely choose Yogi Bear when it rains.