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Movie Reviews
by Todd Pearage

Yogi Bear (3/22/2011)

Rated PG for some mild rude humor.

Starring Dan Aykroyd (voice), Justin Timberlake (voice), Anna Faris and Tom Cavanagh

Directed by Eric Brevig (Journey to the Center of the Earth)

Todd's Rating: A Coaster

Not better than your average kids’ movie!

Jellystone Park has been losing business, so greedy Mayor Brown decides to shut it down and sell the land. That means families will no longer be able to experience the natural beauty of the outdoors - and, even worse, Yogi and Boo Boo will be tossed out of the only home they've ever known. Faced with his biggest challenge ever, Yogi must prove that he really is "smarter than the average bear" as he and Boo Boo join forces with their old nemesis Ranger Smith to find a way to save Jellystone Park from closing forever.

Doesn't it make you wonder for whom studios make films? I mean I'm sure they do considerable market research on a title before producing it. But I’m left wondering who did Warner Bros.' make Yogi Bear for?

The filmmakers must have figured some viewers would be adults nostalgic for the old TV show, but the new movie is so absurdly juvenile it hardly seems aimed at grown-ups, nostalgic or no. And the TV show ended over two decades ago, meaning most kids would probably not even recognize the main character. My point is that there is no reason a good show for children shouldn't appeal to older viewers as well; Disney and Pixar have been proving this for years. If there were more laughs and clever dialogue, Yogi Bear, may have actually made money.
But what do I know?

I found Yogi and Boo Boo somewhat creepy in their CGI guise. They don't actually look like real bears but like the cartoon bears of the old TV show, which is fine; yet they're not quite cartoon bears, either, which tends to diminish one's belief in them as cartoon bears or real bears. They're just...odd.

Fortunately, both Aykroyd and Timberlake do a good job of sounding like the television characters we remember. But the script gives the actors little to say or do that's funny.
The supporting cast includes Tom Cavanagh as Ranger Smith, and Anna Faris as Rachel Johnson, a documentary filmmaker shooting in the park. Of course there is a romantic interest between the two…O.K. seriously does anyone care?

Younger children might find it worthwhile if they're easily amused…otherwise it’s a coaster.

It’s fine for kids.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

Q: What’s the message/theme of this movie?

A: We all know Yogi Bear and his sidekick Boo Boo are known for stealing people's picnic baskets. In the original TV show, Yogi’s plan was usually foiled and Ranger Smith taught him a lesson. But in the updated version the hijacking bear gets away with murder. And Smith just throws up his hands and says, "Yogi will be Yogi." In fact, in the final scene Yogi and Boo Boo are seen towing four or five picnic tables that are laid out with food. No one's learned a thing.

Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?
A: I understand that this is a kids’ movie and Yogi is a classic cartoon character. But he is a selfish, impulsive, character who constantly lies and steals…and he’s unwilling to change. So as Christians we should ask ourselves, “Are we O.K. with that pattern of behavior…as long as we are laughing?”

And what about our lives? Are we O.K. with our sinful behavior or are we striving to become more like Christ?

In the New Testament, one of the recurring themes is that believers are to strive to become more and more like Jesus Christ in every area of their lives. For example, the apostle Paul wrote, “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord — who is the Spirit — makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?
A: “Changed into his glorious image” means we are transformed into something we weren't before, namely the image of Jesus Christ. This means that we are made to be just like him in how we think, talk, and act. This is what Christians call “Christ-like,” and it's something we are to strive to attain not just in the hereafter but also in the here and now.

We are to be like Christ in our:
  • love (John 13:34–35)
  • humility (Philippians 2:2–8)
  • attitudes and actions toward others (1 John 3:18)
  • purity (1 Thessalonians 4:1–8)
  • compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3–7)
  • doing good for others (Matthew 5:16)

This list could go on and on simply because Jesus made himself the perfect example in every area of life. But we can’t do it on our own, we need the Holy Spirit. He is the one who keeps us walking, talking, and living in the same way Jesus did. It is the Holy Spirit who guides us, directs us, and empowers us to live the way God wants us to live. Spend some time this week asking the Holy Spirit to empower you in these areas.

Todd Pearage Todd Pearage is a movie buff at heart, but he's not your traditional film critic. Todd is a blue collar film geek, from his job years ago at Blockbuster to his heartfelt online movie reviews. But Todd isn't just a film geek. He has worked with middle and high school students since 1991 as a youth pastor and is currently on staff at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Todd and his wife Lynda have three children, Brianna, Caleb and Addyson.

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