"Yogi Bear" is one of the more defensible planned adaptations, a 3-D CG/live-action mix based on the classic '60s cartoon series. I only vaguely remember seeing -- and loving -- the original on TV growing up in the '80s, and I imagine that subsequent generations have little, if any, experience with it.
The basic plot of the original series follows two bears, Yogi and Boo-Boo (played in the movie by Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake, respectively), who are constantly trying to swipe picnic baskets from visitors to the fictional Jellystone Park. Always there to thwart them is Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh in the movie). Speaking to "Yogi" helmer Eric Brevig in an exclusive interview, MTV's Eric Ditzian asked why it was deemed important to shoot the movie in 3-D.
"I think 'Avatar' showed [3-D] brilliantly," he said. "But when you have a fantasy world such as the one of Yogi Bear — we built Jellystone Park in the woods of New Zealand — and to be able to see your idealized version of what your childhood dream is like, to see all that in 3-D, it just makes for more of an engaging experience."
It's a great ideal, but the practical process of turning the relatively simple, formulaic setup of the cartoon into a feature-length film is going to require some tweaks. No one wants to watch two CG bears run around for two hours, trying to steal themselves a bite to eat. Brevig's got that covered though; his "Yogi" will have a bigger, something more suited to the scope of a feature.
"Jellystone is in danger from a politician who decides he can save money by shutting down a National Park," the director explained. "Anna Faris plays a documentary filmmaker who comes to Jellystone, and she's a love interest to Ranger Smith. ... It's up to Smith and Anna's character, as well as Yogi and Boo-Boo, to come up with a way to save the park while the lumberjacks are arriving with their equipment preparing to start tearing it apart."
Don't start thinking that the Jellystone threat is just a frame for the usual Yogi pick-a-nic basket-stealing antics. The movie will have some big sequences, moments which ought to look great in 3-D; Brevig even described one, which he called "an Indiana Jones-level action scene."
"Yogi builds this glider — he's a master inventor with pieces he's stolen from other picnickers — and his mission is to rescue this specific thing that will save the park. So, he and Boo-Boo get launched off a cliff, and of course the glider is not built very well, so there's all sorts of exciting near-misses and calamities as they're flying through Jellystone. Once they've achieved their goal, the thing falls apart and they wind up in a raft with Ranger Smith and Anna Faris' character, and they go down a white-water rapid by accident."
Justin Timberlake's casting as Boo-Boo has a lot of people scratching their heads. The former 'N Sync singer and multiple Grammy winner is certainly popular... but cartoon character voice acting? "We heard that he wanted to do the voice, and I thought, 'Oh, great,' because everybody thinks they can do Yogi and Boo-Boo," Brevig said. "But when we met with him for the first time, he did the tiniest little amount and it was like, 'This guy has got it nailed!'"
It's no surprise to us here at MTV of course. Timberlake showed off his cartoon voice chops back in 2007, during a press junket for "Shrek the Third":
It's 3-D Week on MTV.com! All this week, we're bringing you the latest news on your most-anticipated upcoming 3-D releases, along with plenty of exclusive content and the same great opinions and commentary you've come to expect from the talented MTV Movies team.