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Warner Home Video presents
Hey There, It's Yogi Bear (1964)

"When something's delicious, my nose knows. And where my nose goes, Yogi goes."
- Yogi Bear (Daws Butler)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: December 10, 2008

Stars: Daws Butler, Don Messick, Julie Bennett
Other Stars: Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl, Hal Smith, J. Pat O'Malley, James Darren
Director: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera

MPAA Rating: G for (pic-a-nic basket thievery)
Run Time: 01h:29m:06s
Release Date: December 02, 2008
UPC: 883929035564
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B C-BB+ D-

DVD Review

After the success of the Yogi Bear cartoon series, complete with heavy duty merchandising, it was a natural that William Hanna and Joseph Barbera would take their denizen of Jellystone Park to the big screen. The result is a bit disappointing, though the character work by the voice artists helps redeem it and offers some good laughs.

It's spring at Jellystone Park, and Cindy Bear (Julie Bennett) has turned to thoughts of love for Yogi Bear (Daws Butler). But Yogi, as usual, is working with sidekick Boo Boo (Don Messick) conniving ways to get around the park rules about feeding the bears, to the fury of Ranger Smith (Messick). Yogi, thinking he is smarter than the average bear, decides Smith will have to give in to his demands when Yogi says he wants to go elsewhere. Unfortunately, his timing is poor since the San Diego Zoo needs a bear. Regretting this plan, Yogi convinces another bear to take his place, then he heads into hiding, stealing picnic baskets as the Brown Phantom. Cindy is heartbroken about Yogi supposedly being taken away, and she engineers getting shipped out to what she thinks will be a reunion at the San Diego Zoo, only to head for the St. Louis Zoo instead. Yogi and Boo Boo head out from Jellystone to try to rescue her, and they get into a variety of scrapes, including a flying life raft, being baled up in hay and getting caught up as attractions at a circus.

Despite the bigger screen, there's a disappointing lack of effort at making this something special. The backgrounds are a bit more detailed than on the television show, but the characters are still victim to the same limited cheap animation (with plenty of cycling of motion) instead of getting something a bit more professional or demonstrating care being taken. Matters aren't helped any by the focus on romance as the central theme of the story, which I recall made this boring in the extreme when I was a child. When you add to it a selection of sappy and forgettable songs (including a main theme that sounds like a variation on Here Comes Santa Claus, of all things), the recipe is set for disaster.

It's kept from the brink by the skilled voice actors, who are giving their all. Butler was a genius of conveying character through his voice, and he gives Yogi a range of personality far, far beyond what the animation actually calls for. Messick takes second fiddle to Butler's theatrics, being forced to play straight man with not one but two characters, but the combinations work exceedingly well. When you throw in the great Mel Blanc and Hanna-Barbera mainstay Jean Vander Pyl covering the minor characters, you get a wide variety of characters without resorting to "star" voices, who don't know how to create these personalities vocally (though James Darren does put in an appearance on some of the singing).

The best bits offer familiar character moments, especially Yogi's antics and Boo Boo's useless protestations at his newest schemes. Cindy Bear's plight is on occasion moving, and forms a nice contrast to Yogi's frequent thoughtlessness, giving an empathetic depth to the story that is beyond what the TV series ever could manage. Fans of Hanna-Barbera's Muttley the snickering dog will be interested to find a direct prototype in the sleazy circus owners' dog Mugger. The movie seems a little long. Yanking the songs would have made it a more comfortable length and far less tedious since they don't advance the plot much. I'm afraid I can't say I enjoyed this any more in my 40s than I did when I was 4.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen transfer generally looks quite acceptable; on longer shots the linework picks up an odd softness that's not seen in the closeups. There's a modest amount of dirt and speckling throughout, as well as some instability of the color timing. The colors are nice and bright, and generally the picture is attractive enough. There isn't any major damage.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The disc features a Dolby Surround audio track that uses the surrounds mostly for musical score; the dialogue is pretty well center-oriented. The jazz combo heard on some of the songs sounds very nice, having an excellent presence and the percussion in particular sounding very crisp. The track is very clean and devoid of hiss and noise. There's also a 1.0 mono Portugese track, but no Spanish or French track (nor any subtitles in the latter languages).

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Portuguese with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are no extras of any kind, which is both surprising and disappointing considering Warner's Hanna-Barbera Collection has generally included some solid bonus materials.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Overlong and a bit dull, the feature is saved from total disaster by the skills of the voice talent. The transfer is pretty good, but there are no extras at all.


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