Several Sunday episodes of the Yogi Bear comic strip during the fall of 1963 had a story line tying into the film's release.
The plot is based on the life story of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi or, to put it simply, Yogi Bear.
Boo Boo wakes up from hibernation, excited about the new spring. Then Yogi Bear wakes up, his only interest finding some food to eat. Cindy Bear unsuccessfully tries to woo Yogi. After Ranger Smith thwarts Yogi's latest attempts to grab some food, Yogi gets angry and convinces Ranger to transfer him out of Jellystone National park. Smith prepares Yogi to be sent over to the San Diego Zoo along with an identification tag. Yogi first says goodbye to everything, but tricks another bear named Cornbone into going to California instead of him, and Boo Boo and Cindy remain unaware of this, thinking Yogi departed for good.
Soon, Yogi is stealing food from all over the park under the alter ego "The Brown Phantom", but Smith believes it's another bear. He threatens whoever it is to be sent to the zoo. Cindy, wishing to be with Yogi at the zoo, angers Smith into mistakenly sending her away. However, she gets sent to the St. Louis Zoo instead, as the San Diego Zoo doesn't need any more bears. When she realises her true destination, she gets very sad, crying since she knows she'd be far from Yogi now.
Late that night, Cindy falls out of the train and becomes lost. A travelling circus is looking for a great act to raise their ratings, when suddenly, their dog runs off and scares Cindy into walking on the telephone wires, the perfect opportunity for the circus.
Yogi has recently missed Boo Boo and, above all, Cindy. Yogi goes to Ranger Smith and hears about her disappearance. Soon, Yogi and Boo Boo escape from Jellystone to find Cindy. Meanwhile, Ranger Smith decides to let them find their way home to avoid trouble with the commissioner. After an extensive travel, Yogi and Boo Boo find Cindy, who is being kept a prisoner for the greedy manager's nest egg. As Yogi confronts the manager, he is made to join the circus, too. Boo Boo releases Yogi and Cindy, and they make their exit. As they make their way home, they crash a barnyard party, somehow escaping on a river with the barn's door as a raft. Then, while Cindy & Yogi dream about a honeymoon in Venice, they suddenly are chased and hunted by the police, but make their escape.
They hitch a ride, but find themselves in the middle of a busy city and make a run from the police to the top of a hotel and across to a high rise. The next morning, Ranger Smith sees the three bears on television and decides to pick them up in a helicopter. All the commotions have made a great publicity for Jellystone, and Ranger Smith gets promoted to Chief Ranger.
- Daws Butler as Yogi Bear
- Don Messick as Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Ranger Jones, Mugger
- Julie Bennett as Cindy Bear
- Mel Blanc as Grifter Chizzling
- J. Pat O'Malley as Snively
- Hal Smith as Corn Pone
- Jean Vander Pyl as the Barn Dance Woman
- Bill Lee as Yogi Bear (singing, "Ash Can Parade" and "Whistle Your Way Back Home")
- James Darren as Yogi Bear (singing, "Ven-e, Ven-o, Ven-a")
- Ernest Newton as Boo-Boo (singing)
- Jackie Ward as Cindy Bear (singing)
- Jonah and the Wailers as the zoo-bound bears performing "St. Louis"
The animated musical film was produced and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, with a story by Hanna, Barbera, and former Warner Bros. Cartoons storyman Warren Foster. When the Warner Bros. Cartoons studio closed in May 1963, several of its animators, including Gerry Chiniquy, Friz Freleng and Ken Harris, joined Hanna-Barbera to work on this film.
Release and reception
A review from the May 27, 1963 issue of Variety pointed out that the scarcity of theatrically released feature animated films made Hey There, It's Yogi Bear! highly marketable. The review called the film "artistically accomplished in all departments". The review commented that the script was a bit redundant, but that the songs were "pleasant, if not especially distinguished".
After its mildly successful 1963 release, Hey There, It's Yogi Bear! found extended life as a popular summer matinée feature. The film was reissued on January 17, 1986, as part of Atlantic Releasing's short-lived Clubhouse Pictures program.
A Region 2 DVD was released in the United Kingdom on January 31, 2011.
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