*It’s hard to believe that Yogi Bear’s career began as a support cast member on the “Huckleberry Hound Show” way back in 1958. These days Yogi Bear is in the air and all over your television sets.
The iconic food thief and his noble sidekick Boo Boo have been making children laugh since our parents were children. Though it’s not plausible to try and imagine how many individual laughs the Hanna Barbera franchise has induced over the past 50 years, we don’t think we’re off by saying it could be somewhere in the billions. That’s a lot of laughter coming from a lot of after-school cartoon sessions. Back when cartoon characters, though cheaply drawn, were well written and secretly taught morality and friendship lessons amid the jokes.
EURweb.com was amongst the news outlets that were present as Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake and the cast and crew of “Yogi Bear” broke down the films particulars.
“I will be answering questions for myself today,” joked the always comical Timberlake as he sat down. “but I can answer questions for Boo Boo if you’d like.”
Those who are familiar with actor/comedian Dan Aykroyd’s body of work are aware of his ability to be extremely dead pan serious while having an audience in stitches with laughter. Here he tells reporters that it was in fact Justin who kept him on his toes.
“We wanted to get as close, in terms of the characterizations, as they were originally, he explained. “It was a great tribute to that franchise and we wanted to be as true to that as we could. He can’t help who he is and I can’t help who I am. So, you’ll hear the characterizations and a lot of our personality comes through in terms of the voices. His dryness is incredible. He challenges the character. As you’ll see it’s truly Yogi Bear and Boo Boo.”
Those who know about the taping of voice-overs are aware that often times the parts are record separately. Timberlake tells reporters that the special synergy shared between he and Aykroyd was in large part due to the fact that they recorded much of their dialogue in studio together.
“I think an interesting thing about voicing these characters, and I attribute that to the director,” said Timberlake. “He had Dan and I come in and do these voices together. We had two or three sessions together and we looked at this as sort of a Batman and Robin if you will. So, it really made a difference with the rhythm of the banter between Yogi and Boo Boo that can move like that. I think also, in the specifics of re-voicing such iconic characters, I feel like we were honored to play characters that were so important for both of our generations and be mindful these characters were going to be reintroduced to younger audiences for the first time and I felt we had to be mindful of that. Other than that I thought it was really exciting to wear a bowtie.”
The film takes place in the great outdoors of the fictional Jellystone National Park, as those familiar with the cartoon would have suspected. Both Aykroyd and Timberlake told reporters that they have a special love for the outdoors as well and that, is in part, why the loved the pilfering bear growing up. Aykroyd believes Americans could stand to get out more … a lot more.
“I would say put up the texting, put up the Blackberry, put up the laptop. Get rid of it for at least 4 days, for a long weekend for once or twice a month. We’re ruining the attention span of this generation. It’s time to get back to nature. It’s time to get back out and see that there are other creatures out there other than friends that we are being texted and sexted. I personally encourage it, I grew up on the edge of a national park. I would have to walk to school and back through the woods everyday and when I would come home I would watch Yogi Bear. Timberwolves, creeks, snow drifts. It was like those stories where you Grandpa would say ‘I would have to walk 6 miles…’ Well I did! I’ve always had a love for nature and I passed it on to my children.”
“I, ironically, grew up in Tennessee on the edge of a state park,” added Justin. “I spent a lot of times outdoors. At the risk of ruining my personal life, I learned how to sing by copying a lot of the singers that I heard on the radio; Al Green, Michael Jackson, Don Henley just to name a few. I was an only child so I would entertainment myself by impersonating Boo-Boo and Scooby Doo. I would just imitate all of the cartoon voices.”
On its face “Yogi Bear” appears to be another slap-stick comical cartoon remake … and it is that in large part. But there is more, says Timberlake:
“There’s two great things that are going on with technology, as Dan said earlier, (kids) tend to get caught up in all of the technology, and it’s nice to know we’re using 3D technology to school kids about the environment and on how money is not the most important thing in the world. So, congratulations Warner Brothers, seriously, on taking the opportunity to do that. I just watched the screening and it made me feel the same way as ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, which I think is an incrediblely awesome movie.”
“The original Hanna Barbera cartoons always had a message at the end whether it was helping friends or sticking together or something like that,” added Aykroyd. “Two years ago I saw they were doing Yogi Bear and I’ve always loved Yogi Bear. Also, I thought ‘Hey, they’re going to need an actor and I want to do some acting.’
“Yogi Bear” needed “some actors.” Well, they certain hit the jackpot with Dan Akroyd and Justin Timberlake. Though their characters are in 3-D the vocal inflections are perfect, as well as the comic timing. The film is directed by Eric Brevig and also stars Tom Cavanaugh as Ranger Smith. “Yogi Bear” opens in theaters nationwide, today, December 17.