Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Hey There, It's a Five-Year-Old Movie Reviewer

Hanna-Barbera’s first full-length movie was a family film. “Family” meaning “parents with kids.” I can’t picture adults going to see Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear when it first appeared on the screen in 1964, unless they were movie reviewers. And in one case, a reviewer took his kid along to rate it.

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.

The movie didn’t do a lot for me when I saw it on TV many years ago. I noticed the animation was fuller, but couldn’t get into the romance story line. I preferred, and prefer, to see Yogi try to outsmart the Ranger. Or even a wily trout, though you’d have a tough time stretching that into a feature film. Still, Hey There is an awful lot better than Yogi as a teenaged mall rat (“Yo!”) or spending Christmas with the ever-insufferable Casper the Friendly Ghost. And more than an awful lot better than a creepy, vampire-toothed CGI bruin sounding like Rodney Dangerfield.

14 comments:

  1. Not only don't I believe for a second that a five-year-old said any of the things stated in this article, it sounds to me like either this Christian Science Reporter either never actually listened to his five-year-old speak, or he had no five-year-old at all. The article comes off as a fairly obvious means of saying the film was aimed at children, and that his daughter (if she existed) MAY have had this reaction. "All growly"? "...she has a particular feeling about Yogi"? Uh-uh, don't buy it. The smug disdain here is a bit more disguised than contemporary Cleveland Amory in TV GUIDE but still of the "can you believe they think this tripe is worth my time?" variety so prevalent in "adult" viewers of animation (and a lot of contemporary animation scholars who'd much rather be viewing more challenging material). Which is fine for them, but me, I'm delighted to enjoy the movie just as much as I did in 1964.

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    1. Good on ya, Mike. I recently rented it through NetFlix and enjoyed it as much as the first time I saw it. Classic.

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  2. Hey, Yo Yogi is a lost gem! It predicted the birth of Simpsons's Poochie!

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  3. Also, the CGI Yogi was just Dan Aykroyd doing a odd deep Ed Norton impression (sorta Barney Rubble). It never really sounded like a Rodney Dangerfield voice to me.....

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  4. I did like the inside plug in the film as Yogi was singing.
    Boo Boo: Gosh, You sound just like James Darren.
    Yogi: annnnd, that's not easy!.
    Other than that, I also enjoy the pre 1960 Yogi trying to outsmart Ranger Smith or that wily trout, or teaching us how to cross a " Super Highway " if we just happen to sleep through the construction of said highway-Ha!.

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  5. I've never seen that advertisement before. It looks like it's really trying hard to convince adults that it's not just kiddie fare.

    I first caught this movie on a local TV channel program that ran a daily afternoon movie where people would be randomly called to win prizes. It was called The Big Money Movie. My brother and I both watched it, although my brother lost interest before Yogi had even left Jellystone Park. I was enchanted with the film then at about age 13, and I continue to find it delightful to this day.(The random people weren't home when the hostess phoned--must have had other things to do besides watch Yogi Bear.)

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    1. Perhaps they were enjoying "Bat Guy" on a competing channel.

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  6. Nice to finally see your review of this...and, considering Cindy Bear's in it (borrowed from some earlier cartoons), you were fairer than the average bear(i.e., admitting it's better than later HB cartoons...). I'm half glad they even DID a Yogi (or other HB film at all, and owned by WB, the same company that Yogi's writers back when Columbia still had them along with Screen Gems, which would explain some Screen Gems shows had them along with the theatrical Bye Bye Birdie having Hb characters), but also sort half creeped out by the "cgi" Yogi from 2010 (who didn't even look so much like ANY animation, but just some actor in a theme-park costume.) BTW Hey There..was one of the few HB uses I know of, along with some Johnny Quest episodes, to have Disney voice J.Pat O'Malley. I saw this (in 1964, in fact, when I moved to the current city I live in), and on TV< all thw way into the 1990s. SC

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    1. In case anyone misunderstands, the Yogi I'm referring to that I was glad was Warner Bros.'s 2010 version, which I said was better than nothing but seemed odd, (in live action looking CGI, not even looking like CGI or hand dran or anything), and Yogi Bear does get some references (20th Century-Fox/Marvel's 2007 sequel to "The Fantastic Four' which of course in 1967 got its own Hanna-Barbera (post-Columbia by then, bought by Taft) show, has the rock like guy calling a bear Boo Boo, for instance), and some stores had Boo Boo and Yogi shirts.Huckleberry and Snagglepuss would be real more obscure to the point where I'd say as to any movie, "Beggars can't be chosers"..

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  7. And finally the David Gates the reviewer mentioned is THE Bread singer DAVID GATES! (HE also wrote the Murmaids girl group's then just off the charts (late 1963 through early '64))"Popsicles and Icycles". (In a similiar fashion, their later HBR records signed a guy named Danny Hutton who did vocals for many records, and for Yowp's all-time least favorite Flintstones, the final season debut "No Biz like Show Biz", when Pebbles and Bamm Bamm sing that sunshiny song..Hutton did a very different song that Fred and Barney, to their frustration, see a teenage group singing, and that became a hit, "Roses and Rainbows". Like David Gates who wrote the Yogi song,s Danny Hutton himself would become a 1970s supergroup leader--of Three Dog Night.He also wrote for HB MOnster Shindig, while I can't find any more cases of David Gates at HB.

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  8. While I’ve always liked “Hey There” (I was one of those lucky kids who saw it in its original run in the theatre) and still do to this day (owning the DVD and the comic book adaption), it stands as an example of something being better in short bursts, rather than long form.

    The short Yogi cartoons, as best exemplified by “Pie Pirates”, “Yogi Bear’s Big Break”, “Slumber Party Smarty”, and others mentioned here, are flat-out funny (and, therefore, more enjoyable in my opinion) in ways an extended production could never be. In 6-7 minutes, there was little time for lulls or “calm scenes” and the concentration was strictly on getting the humor across.

    That said, I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of “half-hour Yogi Bear episodes”, a la Top Cat. It seemed that many of the later shorts were written in such a way as to be easily expanded to that format.

    Couldn’t you easily see “Gleesome Threesome” (Ranger Smith’s vacation), “A Bear Pair” (Trip to Paris), “Slaphappy Birthday” (Ranger Smith’s birthday), “Bear Foot Soldiers” (War Games), and “Yogi in the City” (Reimagined as the ending of “Hey There”) as 30 minute episodes of a prime-time Yogi Bear show?

    I’ve further wondered if such a Yogi series was ever on at least on the drawing board when Top Cat was decided to be the follow-up to The Flintstones. …And, I also wonder if Yogi’s existing star power would have carried such a series to more than a single season.

    Thoughts, anyone?

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    1. Hi, Joe,
      I could see those premises as being worthy of an extended episode of Yogi Bear. When I first saw “Gleesome Threesome”, I thought towards the end it was rushed.

      It’s been years since I’ve seen the Yogi feature, but I recall it being lengthy. It didn’t help that the romance aspect and the songs were in the way, I couldn’t quite put my finger at it the time, but the animation seemed so different. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered it was in full animation.

      Upon later introspection I felt that “Hey There It’s Yogi Bear” was a rehash of “Acrobatty Yogi”, and “Yogi in the City”. As with the The Three Stooges, Looney Tunes, and the H-B shows its difficult expanding those shorts in to a feature length film. You have to start expanding the character’s personality beyond the realm of a six minute short.

      Between the two features based on H-B properties, “Hey There It’s Yogi Bear” was more in tone with the shorts than “A Man Called Flintstone.

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  9. I really like the Yogi spot gag cartoons but they were, more or less, Yogi plus narrator. When Warren Foster came on board, he stuck with a Yogi vs Ranger format.
    The Yogi birthday party episode shows the character could work in a half-hour format.. but I suspect with a deal in place with Kellogg's for the existing show, there wouldn't be a chance of it ever happening.

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  10. I recently bought both the 2010 live action movie and Hey There after looking at scans of the Hey There Little Golden Book on ebay. Hey There is fairly magical with the singing bears, the proto-Muttley and the emotional content. And the 2010 movie was surprisingly on character for having Aykroyd and Timberlake as the leads.

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