Film Review: Yogi Bear

An inoffensive live-action feature of the beloved Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Yogi Bear is sure to satisfy the young audience it is intended for. Older cinemagoers would be wise to view it as the harmless fluff it is.

Jellystone Park is due to celebrate its 100th anniversary, but Yogi Bear and his sidekick Boo Boo are more interested in stealing picnic baskets, as usual. When Mayor Brown threatens to close Jellystone, Ranger Smith enlists the help of Yogi and Boo Boo, as well as zoologist Rachel…

The premise of Yogi Bear is fairly standard; most of what occurs is predictable family movie fare. Nevertheless, the pacing is good, and with a sprightly running time of eighty minutes, the film is just the ticket. Although there are some very apparent messages, the tone of the film never becomes heavy.

Much of the humour will appeal to younger audience members, although there are some jokes that have a wider appeal. Yogi Bear does not seem to have the emphasis on entertaining adults as well as children, unlike Toy Story 3 or Megamind, for example. Notwithstanding, the light entertainment the film offers is certainly watchable for an older audience, even though is more amusing than hilarious. Furthermore, Yogi Bear makes references to 2001: A Space Odyssey and Superman, which are probably lost on younger viewers.

At its heart, Yogi Bear is unequivocal in the messages it sends. Characters are predominantly painted in contrasting colours. Mayor Brown is greedy and not enterprising, while Ranger Smith is honest and endearing. Yogi Bear promotes environmentalism over capitalism; unabashedly depicting those in power as corrupt, and elevating green issues above financial gain. However, Yogi Bear does not appear overly political in this endeavour; rather the film provides young viewers with a strong moral to the story.

The CGI effects used to create Yogi and Boo-Boo look decent in 3D. The characters are very detailed, particularly in the contours of their fur. Although the two appear natural in their surroundings, at some points it is clear that the actors are performing with green screen. The 3D is employed with gimmicky effect, functioning in much the same way as its use in The Final Destination or My Bloody Valentine.

Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake sound appropriate as Yogi and Boo Boo. Nonetheless, they are parts that could have been given to any unknown voice actors; it is unclear what they bring to a feature such as Yogi Bear. Anna Faris brings her usual quirkiness as Rachel, while Tom Cavanagh is uninspired as Ranger Smith.

Yogi Bear is an entertaining film, but one that clearly has young children in mind. Although it is unlikely to be classed as one of the year’s best films, it is nevertheless an enjoyable eighty-minute watch.

Film Review: Megamind

There has been an abundance of well-executed animated features in 2010; Megamind is just the latest of these. Although the film is enjoyable and has wide appeal, it may suffer from being released so soon after Despicable Me, as the two films share some striking similarities.

Super villain Megamind has a rivalry with his nemesis Metro Man which stretches all the way back to childhood. When Megamind finally defeats Metro Man, he finds that life is much emptier without a nemesis to fight…

Megamind appears to be a little ‘by the numbers’ in a way it would not have seemed only a few years ago. This is because there have been several animated features this year particularly that mix comedy with action and fantasy in a style that will appeal to adults as well as children. So in this sense it appears formulaic, but only as it comes after the year’s several successful animated features.

Like Despicable Me, the protagonist in Megamind is very much an anti-hero. Although he is evil, we inevitably root for the humorous Megamind to prosper, rather than the stereotypically ‘good’ characters. And just like Despicable Me‘s Gru, Megamind has a change in outlook through the course of the film.

Megamind is entertaining primarily due to its good use of comedy. Megamind’s conversations with his cohort Minion are amusing; these interactions reveal both affection and gentle ribbing. Megamind makes reference to a number of films, including The Karate Kid and Kill Bill: Vol. 2. Most notable, however, is Megamind‘s hilarious spoof of Marlon Brando in Superman. Megamind parodies superhero films, offering a rather skewered version of both heroes and villains of this genre. Nevertheless, Megamind appears to offer a more realistic interpretation of how superheroes would be treated in the real world, than that of Kick-Ass, for example. Metro Man is portrayed as part deity, part celebrity – a believable reflection of the contemporary world.

Will Ferrell appears perfecting cast voicing Megamind, he bring the humour necessary for this role. Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt similarly perform well, although it does feel a bit like stunt casting, particularly in the case of Pitt. Nowadays, it seems a prerequisite to have A list names voicing animated features.

The animation in Megamind is faultless, with the backdrops of the sky appearing strikingly realistic. The 3D element is incorporated seamlessly, although Megamind is a film that would certainly be enjoyed just as well in 2D. The soundtrack is fantastic, featuring classic tracks from Michael Jackson, AC/DC and Guns n’Roses.

If Megamind had been released a few years ago, it would definitely be one of best animated films in that year. Given the plethora of superb animated features this year, however, Megamind runs the risk of being forgotten. An enjoyable watch, nonetheless.