For people the world over, the name Yogi Bear sparks the distinctive image of a certain pear-shaped gourmand in a jaunty hat and tie—a lovably larcenous pie-eating rebel who believed he was smarter than the average bear, and whose outrageous antics put Jellystone Park on the cartoon map of the world.
Speaking with affection about the “star” of his new 3D film “Yogi Bear” from Warner Bros., director Eric Brevig says, “I’ve always loved Yogi. He does things his own way. He means well, but he just can’t stop listening to his stomach, and those impulses that tell him if he grabs a pie off that table fast enough maybe he’ll get away with it. He’s like a big kid, and I think he represents that part of all of us. He may be a bear, but so much of what he does is pure human nature.”
“People smile when they think of Yogi,” says producer Donald De Line. “He’s such a timeless character. I can hear his voice in my head the instant I think of him.”
“The original cartoon was written as much for adults as for children to enjoy, and I’m happy to continue that with a big, fun, family film I believe parents will be able to share with their kids and feel that there’s something there for them, too,” Brevig adds.
“Yogi Bear” updates the classic property by respecting those elements that make it timeless—the personalities, irreverent humor and Yogi’s endless conflict with authority—while introducing a contemporary tone and storyline. “We took care to avoid things that would identify a time period,” Brevig states. “There’s modern clothing and cars, but you won’t see Yogi using any electronic devices that would date it. I think kids meeting Yogi for the first time will just see him as an awesome, crazy bear who builds airplanes out of campsite junk, while others can reconnect with characters they know and love.”
Yogi and his sidekick Boo Boo exist as fully animated CG characters and interact with a human cast in the largely live-action movie. The intention, Brevig offers, was to present “a Yogi and Boo Boo who appear almost as physically real as the actors, with twinkling eyes and wet noses and all the warmth and subtleties, rather than as mere cartoon images. Our cinematographer, Peter James, lit them as he lit all the actors. I wanted them to be living, breathing, fully dimensional beings.”
“What I’ve always liked about Yogi is that he’s both a physical and poetic comedian, which makes him perfect for movie stardom,” says Brad Copeland, one of the “Yogi Bear” screenwriters and another longtime fan. “He can be funny whether smacking into a tree or delivering a punch line.”
“Yogi Bear,” the movie, gives him ample opportunity for both.