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Video: 'Yogi Bear'

By
TODAY contributor
updated 12/6/2010 2:30:01 PM ET 2010-12-06T19:30:01
COMMENTARY

It’s coming. As a parent you already may be dreading it. Maybe last year you won the coin toss and dodged chaperoning duties for “Alvin and The Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel.” But it's payback time. You have to bite the bullet and bring your demanding offspring to the one children’s film opening in theaters for Christmas: “Yogi Bear.”

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There is no 2010 film release that’s received as much negative internet attention. Adults who loved the hat-wearing, mildly sociopathic, obsessive-compulsive, food-hoarding bear from the cheaply produced cartoons of their youth don’t want to see a 3-D digital version with Dan Aykroyd’s voice and they’ve made their indignant protests heard on blogs and via Facebook mockery of the film’s marketing campaign. It’s angry out there.

Story: Aykroyd is smarter than average bear as Yogi

But really, why? What makes this excursion into crass moneymaking any different or any worse than the films made starring The Chipmunks or Garfield or Scooby-Doo or George of the Jungle or the Transformers, hours and hours of idiotic time-suck we’ve already been force-fed over the past several years? Nothing at all. Where was the outrage over “Marmaduke?” But if we’re talking about artistic merit, all of these movie products weigh the same. So when the bloggers cry, “MAKE IT STOP!” they’re sort of missing the point.

Because you can’t make it stop.

Story: 'Yogi Bear' is a light, bland pic-a-nic

It’s like asking Hostess to stop making Twinkies. We live in a world where someone decided that Yogi Bear needed a makeover and an introduction to the child consumers of 2010. It’s going to be there and you will have to make decisions about it. You have to take control. Here’s how:

Step 1: Relax, a single movie never ruined anyone
You know that Yogi Bear is a one-joke concept. You know that his thing is simply to run around stealing pic-a-nic baskets. You know that 90 minutes of that is going to feel like torture to any grownup, especially when the movie gets to his “back story.” You don’t want to know his back story. But you will almost certainly be subjected to it before it’s over. You know that if they made a movie about the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote, they’d wind up with back story too.

But your children don’t see it that way. They won’t care about liberties taken or memories stained. They will care about funny cartoon animals and hapless live-action humans and mayhem and food fights and Yogi getting his butt repeatedly paddled. This combination of goofy stuff is the definition of Kid Heaven. They’ll see it, squeal with laughter like it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever seen — and it might just be — and then they’ll forget it. Or they’ll become obsessed with it (more on that in a minute).

Video: 'Yogi Bear' (on this page)

Step 2: Follow bad medicine with good
Get a DVD of old Yogi Bear cartoons or record the reruns from the Boomerang channel. Flood them with six-minute concentrated bursts of the original until they forget the extended, fidget-producing reboot. Those old cartoons aren’t art either, but they have a focus and a punch that no feature-length film can approximate. Even the dumbest of the vintage shorts featuring Peter Potamus, Magilla Gorilla, Huckleberry Hound, Wally Gator or Top Cat have a dumb, joyful energy that kids will respond to. Better yet? “Fractured Fairy Tales” or any old Bugs Bunny cartoon. Get on the hunt for those. They’re still hilarious and smart.

Step 3: Teachable moments
No need to launch into a diatribe about how there’s no such thing as an adorable bear cub in a bow tie who wants to be your friend, and that this particular breed of animal just wants to bite your face off. You can turn on Animal Planet for that. But what you can do is gently point out how suddenly there are dozens of Yogi Bear-themed products lining the shelves at stores. And that the reason why that’s happening is because movie studios want to enslave children into buying things they don’t need through the synergistic appearance of pajamas, stickers, snacks and, ultimately, DVDs through a nonstop advertising campaign.

Obviously with a screaming child on your hands, one who’s immune to his or her first lesson in smart shopping and who doesn’t know what “synergy” is anyway, you might wind up buying that hypothetical box of Fruit Roll-Ups with Yogi’s face on it. But in the long run, wouldn’t be fun to teach your preschooler to repeat stuff like, “Multinational corporations are not the boss of me!”? You know it would. Teaching a child to resist the pressures to thoughtlessly buy everything put in front of them is a great accomplishment. And if it takes the “Yogi Bear” movie to inadvertently set that pattern in motion, then fine.

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Step 4: If all else fails, let them get obsessed
A child with an intense curiosity about a specific something is exactly the kind of kid you hope you’ll get. That kind of little person grows into an interesting bigger person. You can throw books at a child like that and they’ll read them. You can present them with higher quality, thematically similar movies and they’ll watch them (Perfect examples: director Jean-Jacques Annaud’s stunning live-action film “The Bear” or Carole Ballard’s equally amazing “Black Stallion” and “Fly Away Home.”)

You’re more in charge of your child’s cultural education than you know, and they need you to push better stuff on them. If you don’t, no one else will do it for you. Check out the books “The Rough Guide to Kids’ Movies” or “Jeffrey Lyons’ 101 Great Movies for Kids” if you need help. But you have to be willing to do a little extra legwork these days to help your small person sift through the smelly pile of junky pop culture so that they don’t grow up with Funyuns for brains.

Now, get ready for next year’s “Smurfs” movie. And “Alvin and the Chipmunks 3-D.”

Dave White is a film critic for Movies.com

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: December movies

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  1. 'Black Swan'

    Stars: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis

    Director: Darren Aronofsky

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 3

    An ambitious young dancer (Portman) is given the lead in a production of "Swan Lake," but must come to grips with a threatening new rival (Kunis) and her own dark side in "Black Swan." (Fox Searchlight) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. 'I Love You Phillip Morris'

    Stars: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Rodrigo Santoro

    Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 3

    Carrey plays a married police officer who discovers his true self as a gay man in "I Love You Phillip Morris." Jailed as a con man, he falls in love with another inmate (McGregor) and will do anything to be with him. (Newmarket Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 'All Good Things'

    Stars: Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst

    Director: Andrew Jarecki

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 3

    Inspired by the real-life Robert Durst murder case, "All Good Things" tells a tale of family, obsession, love and loss. (Magnolia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. 'The Tourist'

    Stars: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp

    Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 10

    An American tourist in Europe (Johnny Depp) gets caught up in a whirlwind romance with a mysterious woman (Angelina Jolie), and a game of cat and mouse with an unknown, but deadly adversary in "The Tourist." (Columbia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. 'The Tempest'

    Stars: Helen Mirren, Felicity Jones, David Strathairn, Djimon Hounsou, Russell Brand

    Director: Julie Taymor

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 10

    A gender-bending twist on the Shakespearean comedy, "The Tempest" turns the Bard's male Prospero into Prospera (Mirren). A duchess finds herself and her daughter (Jones) stranded on an island with the beast Caliban (Hounsou). She eventually seeks revenge against the brother who left her there. (Touchstone Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 'Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader'

    Stars: Georgia Henley, Skandar Keynes, Liam Neeson, Simon Pegg

    Director: Michael Apted

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 10

    3-D fantasy based on the third novel in C. S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" series. With the land now at peace, Prince Caspian along with Lucy, Edmund and cousin Eustace begin a quest to find the seven lost lords of the land. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. 'The Fighter'

    Stars: Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg

    Director: David O. Russell

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 10

    In "The Fighter," Wahlberg plays a professional boxer on the rise, training with his brother (Bale), once a boxer himself who fell victim to drugs and the world of crime. (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. 'Tron: Legacy'

    Stars: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlunc

    Director: Joseph Kosinski

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 17

    This 3-D sci-fi flick is a follow-up to 1982's "Tron." Kevin Flynn's now-adult son investigates what made his father disappear 20 years ago and finds himself pulled into the video-game world of the first film. (Disney Enterprises) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 'Yogi Bear'

    Stars: Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake, Christine Taylor

    Director: Eric Brevig

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 17

    "Yogi Bear," the famous cartoon bear of Jellystone Park (voiced by Aykroyd), takes center stage in a 3-D adventure that utilizes both live-action and CGI. Timberlake provides the voice of his little pal, Boo-Boo. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. 'Little Fockers'

    Stars: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Owen Wilson

    Director: Paul Weitz

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 22

    Uptight father-in-law Jack (De Niro) visits the Focker family to celebrate their twins' birthday, and check in on his son-in-law, Greg (Stiller) in "Little Fockers." (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. 'Somewhere'

    Stars: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Benicio del Toro

    Director: Sofia Coppola

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 22

    A Hollywood bad boy (Dorff) must examine and change his lifestyle when his 11-year-old daughter (Fanning) comes into his life in "Somewhere." (Focus Features) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. 'Country Strong'

    Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund, Leighton Meester

    Director: Shana Feste

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 22

    A fallen country music star (Paltrow) hits the road to start her comeback tour, but a love triangle between her husband and opening act star threatens them all in "Country Strong." (Screen Gems) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. 'Gulliver's Travels'

    Stars: Jack Black, Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, Amanda Peet

    Director: Rob Letterman

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 22

    Black takes on the famous role as a man who finds himself a giant among tiny people on the hidden island of Lilliput in "Gulliver's Travels." (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. 'True Grit'

    Stars: Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, Matt Damon

    Director: Joel and Ethan Coen

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 25

    The Coen brothers remake John Wayne's famous 1969 Western, "True Grit." A 14-year-old girl hires tough U.S. marshal "Rooster" Cogburn (Bridges) to track down the man who killed her father. (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. 'Blue Valentine'

    Stars: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams

    Director: Derek Cianfrance

    Scheduled release date: Dec. 31

    "Blue Valentine," a romantic drama about a married couple's disintegrating relationship, was originally given an NC-17 rating due to an intense sex scene, but was given an R rating after an appeal. (The Weinstein Company) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Fox Searchlight
    Above: Slideshow (15) December movies
  2. Walt Disney Studios
    Slideshow (27) Movies for the holidays

Discuss: Cartoon cinema

What do you think of the cartoons of our past becoming big-screen movies? Have you seen any of these films? Will you see "Yogi Bear"?

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