This is from the Christian Science Monitor, August 22, 1964. The movie is kind of brushed off as pleasant for kids but kind of drab. I’ve never thought of any aspect of Yogi as “salty.” And UPA wasn’t brimming with originality by 1964. By then, the new owners had parked their bread-winner, Mr. Magoo, and involved him in reconstituted versions of history.
‘Hey there, it’s Yogi Bear’
By Louis Chapin
Let no parent dread taking his children to see “Hey There, it’s Yogi Bear,” an amiable feature-length cartoon produced by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Some parts of the story may be stretched a bit thinner than others. The art work isn’t up to the UPA level of originality. But Yogi is a bear from “Jellystone Park” whose salty, affable opportunism shapes up not only into laughs but into a degree of character.
This parent, however, to avoid any tinge of condescension, took along his five-year-old daughter as a co-reviewer. Later he questioned her as follows:
Q. What’s Yogi like, anyway?
A. He’s like a bear, except he’s a little sweeter. He doesn’t do growly.
Q. What does he do in Jellystone Park?
A. He steals food. (Hm—they’ll be surprised at that!) He wants some for himself.
Q. Who else is there in the story?
A. Boo-Boo is a little bear. Cindy is a little bigger than Boo-Boo and she has a particular feeling about Yogi.
Q. Anybody else?
A. Ranger Smith works in Jellystone Park. He doesn’t like Yogi, because he eats up picnic food. He tries to get him in the zoo.
Q. What do you think Yogi does best?
A. He likes parades.
Q. How did you find that out?
A. Because he made a parade himself, when there was another parade going on.
Q. What else does he like?
A. Other bears.
Suffice it to add that Yogi, Boo-Boo, and Cindy, after adventures that take them as far afield as a New York skyscraper, return safely to Jellystone Park and to a new entente with Ranger Smith.
Principle voices are supplied by Daws Butler, Don Messick and Julie Bennett; animation is directed by Charles A. Nichols. Ray Gilbert and Doug Goodwin’s songs, plus the title tune by David Gates, fall into place without strain, and James Darren sings one of them.
One particularly taking character is a circus dog called Mugger, whose every growl sags into a world-weary wheeze. Mugger’s point of view is one which parents may find themselves appreciating even more readily than their co-reviewers.