SOMETIMES A TERRIBLE FILM will make you wonder, "Why did anyone think this was a good idea?" How remarkably worse it is when a movie can't even inspire that—the crass opportunism that wafts off every frame of Yogi Bear answers any such questions itself. Warner Brothers wanted an established brand that would lure both undiscerning adults and children. They hired an actor in the dim, vodka-shilling twilight of his years to voice act, netted a former teen idol to play his sidekick, and padded out the cast with overqualified comedians and that guy from Ed.
As for the plot, Yogi Bear was greenlit before a word of script had been written, so it's clearly secondary. One might think the film would be about the pic-a-nic basket-stealing antics of Yogi (Dan Aykroyd) and his bottom, Boo Boo (Justin Timberlake), but Aykroyd's marble-eyed bear facsimile actually plays second fiddle to Rangers Smith and Jones (the audibly embarrassed Tom Cavanagh and T.J. Miller) and their battle against the just-as-indifferently-named Mayor Brown (Andrew Daly), who wants to clearcut Jellystone Park to make money for "the city." Yogi and Boo Boo do show up from time to time, but mostly they just ruin things and make fart and pee jokes.
Every aspect of Yogi Bear—from its armchair environmentalist message to its numerous 3D spit-takes to the scene where Yogi instructs Boo Boo to "kick it" and they dance to "Baby Got Back"—is engineered to be bland, inoffensive and just current enough to not implode from the extremity of its own irrelevance. It's a rough handjob of a film, sticky with corporate greed and contempt for its own audience. Smokey Bear makes a good argument against forest fires, but Yogi makes a better one for burning those fuckers down.