By Courteney Merritt

Kids will really enjoy this flick. Their parents? Surprisingly, the answer to that is a yes as well, albeit slightly less enthusiastically. While this wouldn’t exactly qualify as a “must-see” (and box office numbers reflect that somewhat), it is enjoyable enough to appeal to those of us who watched the cartoons as kids and today’s generation of youngsters.

The story itself is simplistic, but solid. Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh in a likable enough portrayal) has a reverent respect for nature and for his job at Jellystone Park, both of which are put to the test when corrupt mayor (Andrew Daly) schemes to sell off logging rights to the failing tourist attraction, thus saving his city from bankruptcy and winning him votes in the upcoming gubernatorial election. Talking brown bear Yogi (voiced admirably by Dan Ackroyd, who masters the phrase “pic-a-nic” with the same precision as his cartoon counterpart), looking dapper in a tie and hat, is the bane of Smith’s existence. Yogi’s diminutive sidekick Boo Boo (a nasal Justin Timberlake in a role we can only assume was offered to him long before The Social Network made him a “serious” actor) serves his comedic purpose well, as does nature documentarian and love interest Rachel (a half-hearted Anna Farris) who bonds with Smith over their geeky shared love of nature.

Along with his yes-man (amusingly portrayed by former “Daily Show” correspondent Nathan Corddry), the mayor recruits Smith’s ambitious protégé Ranger Jones (T.J. Miller) who unwittingly helps sabotage plans to save the park after Rachel and Ranger Smith plan a centennial celebration that goes awry thanks to Yogi’s good nature attempts to ramp up the excitement. The adventure portion of the film takes over as the Jellystone crew scrambles to make things right.

The script isn’t perfect and neither is its execution. Predictable is the best way to describe the action and logic gaps abound (everyone just sort of accepts six foot tall, semi-clothed talking bear as normal, Ranger Smith wants him to keep a low profile but Yogi regards himself as the park’s main attraction, etc.)  At times, Ranger Smith seems a little too harsh in dealing with Yogi, but his exasperation is understandable. The villains are, well, cartoonish to say the least, but again this is excusable as it is more of a testament to the fact the filmmakers stayed true to the source material.

The eco-friendly message that underscores the plot may weigh heavy on some adults but kids are unlikely to be bothered by it and they may even learn to appreciate our natural resources. Okay, let’s not go that far, but the setting is beautiful and the fusion of CGI creatures with the live action is credible.  New Zealand provides the landscape (and the irony is not lost that in a film that promotes a message about preserving the environment was swayed by another continent’s tax breaks rather than film locally.)

Clocking in at just under eighty minutes, the pacing is speedy with plenty of slapstick to keep little ones occupied and keep their parents from looking at their watches. Because of its old-fashioned quality, it is most likely to appeal to the under-ten set since kids these days are weaned on more sophisticated fare, but one notoriously hard to please eight-year-old critic deemed this an “entertaining mix of comedy and action with a love story thrown in between the ranger and a girl who makes movies.” It’s goofy, and what kid doesn’t appreciate goofy?