Poorly made and unoriginal could describe both Hanna-Barbera's animated character Yogi Bear, who first appeared in 1958, and Warner Bros.' 3-D movie "Yogi Bear," in theaters today. So why is one hugely entertaining while the other is, well, not?
There was magic to the original Yogi, despite the fact that his trademark tie and collar were just cost-saving devices (animators could move the talking head but leave the body still). Yogi's va-va-voom speech pattern - "Hey there, Boo Boo!" - was essentially stolen from Art Carney's irrepressible Ed Norton in "The Honeymooners." He also surely took something from baseball's Yogi Berra.
Why did this random mix of cultural influences, embodied in a brown bear who steals food from campers in Jellystone Park, became so popular? The makers of the new "Yogi Bear" have no idea. They spend more money computer-animating Yogi and his fretful sidekick, Boo Boo, but the bears still lack personality. Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake, providing the respective voices, lazily mimic the originals (the great Daws Butler and Don Messick).
Making things worse are the live, human characters of Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh, bland) and a cute documentary filmmaker, Rachel Johnson (Anna Faris, wasted). Andrew Daly and Nate Corddry have fun as a corrupt mayor and his yes-man (they want to sell the park to loggers), but it's a bad sign when you yearn for more of the villains. Overall, the movie is the opposite of the cartoons: Everyone's body is in motion, but nobody is using his head.