Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear–Hanna-Barbera’s first animated theatrical feature–makes its arrival on Blu-ray via the Warner Archive Collection.
Produced at a time when Hanna-Barbera Productions was based at Columbia Pictures, the Columbia logo has been on-and-off through the years. The Columbia card briefly appears at the start of the film on Blu-ray. Unlike an earlier DVD from Warner Home Video, the Warner Archive Blu-ray is in its 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio.
Spring is here so hibernation season is over. What appears to be good news for Yogi Bear (Daws Butler) and Boo-Boo (Don Messick) is bad news for Jellystone National Park Ranger Smith (Don Messick). Meanwhile, Cindy Bear (Julie Bennett) tries wooing Yogi with zero success. Anyway, Yogi is up to the same old shenanigans. It does not matter that Ranger Smith has placed a “No feeding the bears” sign. As such, Yogi wants to be moved out of the park. He gets “sent” to the San Diego Zoo but it’s all a trick. What he does not do is tell either Boo-Boo or Cindy. Unfortunately, they think he is as good as gone.
Cindy is depressed and plans to join Yogi, only to realize she is going to the St. Louis Zoo. It is at this point when she finds herself joining the circus. Yogi gets wind of everything and plans a rescue mission. In classic comedic fashion, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Yogi and Boo-Boo are able to rescue Cindy but they end up in New York City, where they run from the police. Enter Ranger Smith to the rescue, a promotion thanks to this new publicity, and it is a happy ending for everyone. Or is it? If you know Yogi Bear, he’s smarter than the average bear!
For a film made during the mid-1960s, it’s rather impressive animation for its time. The Yogi Bear Show is the sort of type to work better as a half-hour comedy. Its whole premise just doesn’t work well for an 89-minute film. The general idea is Yogi does something to make Ranger Smith angry, the ranger gets revenge, something goes wrong, and everyone is happy again at the end. It is no different at a feature level but Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear stretches so much to where it feels like it’s dragging during some of its run time. It’s the same thing with SNL. Some sketches just work better in short-form than trying to make a feature-length movie out of them.
I’m not sure if I’m losing it or not but one of the families having a picnic at Jellystone looks like the Flintstones. It comes during the first third of the film when Yogi is getting into his shenanigans now that springs is here. Even though they’re from a pre-historic time, it would make a lot of sense for Hanna-Barbera to reuse some animation drawings as a fun easter egg. Even if it is not them, it looks very much like them!
Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear offers enough proof that the Yogi Bear concept works better in a half-hour format.
- Yogi’s Birthday Party Episode from The Yogi Bear Show
- Theatrical Trailer
DIRECTORS: William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
SCREENWRITERS: Joseph Barbera, Warren Foster, and William Hanna
CAST: Daws Butler, Don Messick, Julie Bennett, Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl, Hal Smith, J. Pat O’Malley
Columbia released Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear in theaters on June 3, 1964. The film is now available on Warner Archive Blu-ray. Grade: 3/5
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