DVD Review: Yogi Bear’s All-Star Comedy Caper

Hi again…

Yogi Bear… The name brings back images of a goofy bear stealing picnic baskets from visitors to Jellystone Park with his pal Boo Boo. “Smarter than the average bear,” Yogi and Boo Boo would work to outsmart Ranger Smith while filling their bellies. And though I enjoyed many of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons from the era of Yogi, it wasn’t one of those that left a lasting impression.

Yogi was never alone in the Hanna-Barbera universe. He shared adventures with Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Quick Draw McGraw, and many other characters starting in 1958 and has appeared in multiple television shows in the years that followed. The latest Yogi Bear live-action/animated film from Warner Brothers is just the latest in an attempt to revive his career.

With Yogi Bear making his way onto modern 3D movie screens a week before Christmas 2010, I had to wonder if we might see some of the older Yogi titles being re-released on DVD or Blu-ray to help spread the word. As if the folks at Warner Brothers were listening to my thoughts, they released Yogi Bear’s All-Star Comedy Caper on DVD in early December.

In the All-Star Comedy Caper, Yogi and Boo Boo have escaped from Jellystone Park to visit their friends in the “Big City” at the same time that his friends from the “Big City” (Huckleberry Hound and so on) made a special trip to Jellystone to see them! Oops. As you might imagine, Yogi quickly finds himself in trouble. He tries hiding while posing as Santa Claus in a department store. It’s there he and Boo Boo meet Judy Jones, a little girl more than a little upset with her father who doesn’t have time for her. Of course, Yogi and Boo Boo want to help restore her faith in Christmas if they can and the trio run off together.

Judy’s dad – the millionaire businessman J. Wellington Jones – isn’t amused and starts to look for his daughter, who has obviously been kidnapped! Soon Yogi, Boo Boo, and Judy are on the run from the police as well as Ranger Smith, who has come to the city to find Yogi. When the bears offer to return Judy to her home, she doesn’t want to go home…

About this time Huckleberry Hound and the gang find Yogi and Boo Boo and offer to help find Judy’s way home. They search everywhere and run into other animated characters such as Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, Pixie and Dixie, Magilla Gorilla, Wally Gator, and Yakky Doodle. But nobody can seem to find the little girl’s house.

When the police and the Ranger finally catch up with Yogi, Boo Boo, and Judy, they are none too pleased. But Judy announces that she hadn’t been kidnapped and that she’d run away, which makes her father understand why he needs to spend time with her. Daddy springs Yogi and Boo Boo from the back of the paddy wagon and drops all charges against our heroes. And Yogi, Judy, and the gang celebrate a Christmas in the park and brighten everyone’s holiday spirit.

Really it’s a cute story that drives home that spending time with your kids during the holidays (and the rest of the year too) is important and should not be forgotten in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Also included on the DVD is the short “Yogi’s Birthday Party” in which Ranger Smith, Boo Boo, and Cindy Bear help throw Yogi a surprise birthday party. To keep him in the dark, poor Yogi thinks he’s going to have to perform some kind of act in front of a television audience and he goes out of his way to figure out what he’s good at!

Though it was fun to see Yogi and the gang, I have to admit I really enjoyed seeing Snagglepuss after all these years. His catchphrases “Exit, stage left!” and “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” have stuck with me and seemed to resonate with my daughters as well. So maybe I’ll have to see about finding some other Hanna-Barbera cartoons on DVD to fill a small void in my cartoon collection!

If you’re looking for a fun Christmas-themed special with characters that haven’t been seen on TV for a while, I’d definitely look for Yogi Bear’s All-Star Comedy Caper on DVD. It’s short and fun and should keep younger viewers entranced for a little while!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this and other holiday-themed DVDs below!

DVD Review: He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown

Hey all…

Since Charles Schultz’ comics turned into animated specials appearing on television, those specials have been a staple in many of our homes. Growing up in the 1970s, they had already started repeating them throughout the year and I watched them all with my family.

The antics of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, and the rest of the gang became a timeless joy. And now that Warner Brothers is remastering and re-releasing these classic specials on DVD, it’s been fun to share them with my own daughters so they too can get to know the gang from Peanuts.

He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown is the latest of these specials to be re-released. The DVD includes “He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown” and a bonus special – “Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown.” Though neither of these were specials I recall from my childhood, it’s still fun to see these characters get some attention from the archives. The DVD also includes the featurette “Snoopy’s Home Ice: The Story of the Redwood Empire Ice Arena,” which tells of the ice arena Charles Schultz had built in the late 1960s.

In “He’s Your Dog,” Charlie Brown realizes that Snoopy is out of control and causing trouble not only for himself but for all his friends in the neighborhood – from picking fights with Lucy to stalking Linus and his blanket. To remedy the situation, Charlie Brown sends Snoopy back to the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm to attend a puppy boot camp and learn some manners. Unfortunately, Snoopy has other plans and never makes it there. An overnight stay at Peppermint Patty’s house turns into a week-long spa vacation for our troublesome pup.

Of course, the gang comes to realize that they miss the mischievous beagle and Charlie Brown does his best to get Snoopy back. Unfortunately, Snoopy doesn’t want to be dragged back to his doghouse by a leash and Peppermint Patty has turned the tables on Chuck’s dog and put him to work. Will Snoopy decide to come home or be stuck cleaning house for the rest of his days?

In “Life is a Circus,” Snoopy falls in love with Fifi, a pretty poodle performing under the big top. Smitten, he runs away with the circus and becomes part of the act himself. Charlie Brown and his friends are left pondering why he left as Snoopy learns a few new tricks and becomes a circus star. Will Snoopy stay with Fifi and the circus or choose to return home where he can resume his life as a single dog?

Warner Brothers did a great job re-mastering these timeless classics. “He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown” turned out crisp and full of vibrant color with a crisp clear soundtrack. And it was great to hear another of Vince Guaraldi’s amazing piano scores again. “Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown” isn’t quite as clean a reproduction and seems to flicker in spots, but still enjoyable to watch.

If you’re looking for a great family-friendly DVD to share at home, look no further than Charlie Brown and his pals. He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown is available on DVD along with many more of these Peanuts classics.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up these great specials on DVD!

DVD Review: Gotta Catch Santa Claus

Yes, we’re at the end of October and this is a review of a Christmas special. But you can’t walk through a retail store without knowing Christmas is coming fast and furious. So what’s the deal with Gotta Catch Santa Claus featuring William Shatner as Santa Claus?

Take a few parts of the game Mousetrap, a bit of the skepticism of A Christmas Carol, and the kids of Scooby Doo and you have a few of the ingredients that went into this entertaining holiday program. As I watched with my girls, ages 4 and 8, I know they enjoyed it and I have to admit that I did too.

What’s it about? Santa Claus of course! Twelve-year-old Trevor is a believer. His good friend Veronica is a skeptic however and chooses to only believe what she can see. So when Veronica challenges Trevor to get proof that Santa is real, Trevor of course accepts and sets out to not only prove that Santa exists, but to capture him and hold a press conference.

Santa himself is of course preparing for his yearly round-the-world record breaking journey from the North Pole delivering toys to good little girls and boys. Mrs. Claus, updated from the dowdy older matriarch to a thin, health-conscious and supportive wife, tries to keep the big guy’s sweet tooth in check. The elves are also helping with the preparations, making sure that everything goes smoothly.

And then, as if Trevor and Veronica weren’t enough trouble, Santa has to deal with the bad guy of the film – LeFreeze. LeFreeze is a frozen giant with a grudge. Santa wronged him sometime in the past and now LeFreeze wants to exact his revenge. LeFreeze is aided by his three snowman henchmen ready to help their boss.

Clocking in at about 66 minutes, this isn’t the longest holiday animated feature I’ve ever seen. But I think it was long enough to keep the kids entertained and present a solid beginning, middle, and end. A couple of the musical numbers were a bit much for me, but again – the kids seemed to enjoy them.

For me, the believer vs. skeptic battle worked beautifully. I can’t say that I’ve seen science worked into a holiday special quite the way Gotta Catch Santa Claus does. The skeptic in me appreciated the scene where Veronica worked through the math of why Santa couldn’t possibly deliver all those toys to all those people in a single night. What was Trevor’s answer? Magic, of course!

In addition to the movie itself, there were a few extras including two sing-alongs, a few deleted scenes, and a “Santa Behind-the-Scenes” feature. The deleted scenes were of unfinished animation for the most part, including the original opening for the movie which would have had Trevor as the skeptic and Veronica as the believer. But I recommend that you watch the “Behind the Scenes” feature simply because you get to hear William Shatner try, and fail, to sing “Deck the Halls” a few times as his animated alter ego. It’s worth watching just to see Shatner get a bit flustered.

If you’re looking for a new Christmas special to add to your holiday DVD collection, Gotta Catch Santa Claus is definitely worth checking out. Ask for it at your favorite online or brick-and-mortar retailer before Santa makes his yearly visit!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this and other great holiday specials below!

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