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Are you curious about CURIOUS GEORGE? If so read on for a review of the flick!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Now, I grew up with the Curious George books. I have fond memories of reading through them (or just skimming looking at the illustrations in some of my oldest memories, before I could read) in my grandmother's house, probably in the lull after Saturday Morning cartoons when there was nothing good on TV. I also have an unhealthy crush on Drew Barrymore. With all those factors I still have absolutely zero interest in seeing this movie.

We got a review here from a father who took his 7 year old son to a preview of the movie. He applauds the traditional animation elements and I like to see 2-D animation survive, too... although every time I see the trailer for Curious George I can't shake the feeling of THE CHIPMUNK ADVENTURE... I have a sneaking suspicion that the Chipmunk movie was more entertaining and slightly less pandering to the toddler audience, if that's possible. Anyway, here's the review! Enjoy!

Hey Harry - not sure if you or anyone on this site is curious about Curious George the movie, but I just came from a screening with my 7 year old son, and thought I'd shoot ya a quick review: we saw it at a packed preview, and apart from the occasional wail from a toddler, the younger half of the audience seemed mildly entertained. There were a few chuckle out loud moments, but basically the movie meandered along until the last act, where it definitely got bogged down in meaningless plot points: a totally unexciting race to save The Man with the Yellow Hat's museum from becoming a parking lot. Although a few famous moments from the H.A. Rey stories are included - George carried aloft over the city by a bunch of toy balloons - the screenplay is basically an original but uninspired creation.

I didn't know a thing about the film going in, and it was actually a nice surprise to see old-fashioned 2-D animation layered seamlessly atop the CG backgrounds - the first part in George's jungle kinda reminded me of Disney's "Tarzan." The film has a nice look actually, vaguely reminiscent of the books - with two well art-directed settings: the lush jungle and the modern cityscape where the curious monkey ends up living. My favorite parts of the movie were a few boppy sequences with George zipping up, down and around these colorful environments with effortless leaps and camera angles vaguely reminiscent of King Kong - all to some forgettable but pleasant pop tune - again, kinda Tarzan-lite but fun.

George? He is cute. But to anyone familiar with the books, movie George has lost a certain edge. The original monkey was more of a mischief-maker: he got himself into more trouble and stumbled into solutions more by happy accident. This cuddly creature is too eager to save the day or offer a hug to his pal, The Man with the Yellow Hat, who the filmmakers have elevated to main character status. Will Ferrell voices him as an earnest nerd, shy or oblivious around his throw away love interest (Drew Barrymore, doing maybe an afternoon's worth of voice work), and beleaguered by bored children and an evil bureaucrat at the museum where he works. Ferrell tries to keep all parts of the audience amused with spontaneous-sounding quips, but his character as scripted - essentially a clueless coward - is mostly annoying.

Some of the book's magic is also lost by "updating" it to modern, politically correct times.

The Man with the Yellow Hat takes calls on his celphone in the middle of the jungle and no longer tricks George into being captured. The screenwriters add silly fantasy elements like a wacky inventor with robots and a holographic projector, yet literal-mindedly feel the need to explain exactly how The Man got his iconic Yellow Suit. The movie ends up a bit of an anachronistic jumble, without a milieu of its own.

Not that I knock the filmmakers for changing stuff: the original Curious George stories - though classics - are dated and undoubtedly difficult to adapt. But I think they could have aimed a little higher, no matter what audience they were shooting for. Ultimately, the most exciting movie-moment for my son came on the way out, when he saw the poster for "Superman Returns."

I'm a frequent visitor to your site and an occasional chatter - if you post this use my nickname: "nicky."



Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 23, 2006, 1:18 a.m. CST

    first

    by Thoreau

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 1:18 a.m. CST

    yes, I know I'm first on the lamest

    by Thoreau

    ...talk back ever about what is destined a gigantically horrific movie.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 1:28 a.m. CST

    no way

    by SnowMann

    the lamest talkback ever is the one about dreamgirls and AICN trying to defend their coverage of it. At least this movie has a monkey.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 1:31 a.m. CST

    When I saw "Show Me The Monkey"...

    by 33.3rpm

    ...on the poster, I knew neither me, nor my kids, would ever see this film or buy the Happy Meal. And I dig Jerry Maguire! Fuck this.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 2:03 a.m. CST

    I love Curious George

    by HavocZer0

    but I had a bad feeling this was gonna be trash. sigh.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 2:57 a.m. CST

    Hmm...

    by Ribbons

    ...seems like they made a couple of odd choices. Cell phones, wacky holograms? Over-explaining the existence of fantastical elements? This is a children's fable, not a Michael Crichton novel.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 5:25 a.m. CST

    'Ultimately, the most exciting movie-moment for my son came

    by 3 Bag Enema

    Pull that quote for your poster, Curious George!

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 6:24 a.m. CST

    I'm disappointed that they didn't go with claymation on

    by Trazadone

    I don't like the new look of George at all. Does anyone remember that claymation short from years ago? In one of the episodes George eats a puzzle piece and has to go to the hospital.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 7 a.m. CST

    yeah claymation or stop-motion - and the original design!

    by half vader

    I never saw that short but I was watching the George Pal Puppetoon movie again the other day with the little Curious George cameo at the end and it was just spot-on._________When I saw the trailer for this the thing that immediately turned me off was that they'd changed his design which is sort of iconic by now and just given him generic animation eyes. I know usually the white helps expression but there are many characters including stop-motion characters who succeed without it. Eyes are so important to defining the look and personality. Yet another example of a studio taking an existing property and changing what attracted them to it in the first place because they supposedly know better. Arseholes. Then they wonder why it bombs.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 7:05 a.m. CST

    I'd actually pay to see a Michael Chrichton Curious George F

    by half vader

    Or maybe he could be the (digital replacement for the) monkey in the Andromeda Strain. Wasn't there a resus monkey in that? That's what you get for being curious, George!

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 7:06 a.m. CST

    Yeah, claymation would have been good

    by Drunken Rage

    I don't think I'll be seeing this (no, I can safely say I won't be seeing this), but the books were charming and kind of funny. Too bad the movie apparently has none of the charm or the spirit of the books. Perhaps next we'll see a movie about the traveling cap salesman who loses all his caps when he walks through the monkey-filled forest. "Damn you, monkeys! Throw down my caps!"

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 7:06 a.m. CST

    Oops. Sorry for the typos.

    by half vader

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 7:20 a.m. CST

    You can find the claymation George on VHS

    by Trazadone

    Did they only make those 2 claymation shorts?

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 8:17 a.m. CST

    My five year old kindergartener came home with a Curious George

    by HansDelbruck

    Call me old-fashioned but movie ads dressed up as education and aimed at the kiddies is bad enough on TV and elsewhere, but actually handed out at school? That's marketing genius for ya.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 8:42 a.m. CST

    Well, there you have it folks... Curious George has "lost his ed

    by LlGHTST0RMER

    I tell ya, the translation from the original novel seems to have been horribly executed. I suppose all we can hope for is that when "Superfudge" makes it to the big screen, the filmmakers treat the material with some Goddamn respect!

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 8:48 a.m. CST

    Of course, let's be patient. It's not until the sixth b

    by LlGHTST0RMER

    I mean, the George's character development only really starts to take shape in part four, "Curious George and the Open Bag of Broken Glass." Let's give it a little time.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 9:13 a.m. CST

    A "mischeif maker?"

    by Childe Roland

    Man, that monkey's done more time than my habitual drunk driving, bar fighting, whore choking buddy from the Marine Corps (for the record, all the whore choking was consensual to hear him tell it). Seriously, it's been a while since I read all the books, but doesn't CG wind up in the pokey on his very first day in the city? He should've learned from his cousin, Kong's experiences and steered clear. As for what the little monkey had to do on the inside to survive, that's his business. And I won't hold that against him here. I do hope at some point in the movie he goes all apeshit and chews off Will Ferrel's fingers, though. That'd be cool to see.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 10 a.m. CST

    Pretentious critic alert! Curious George is "an anachronistic j

    by Lance Rock

    sheesh!

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 12:40 p.m. CST

    Should've cast Hulk Hogan as the Man in the Yellow Suit

    by SickPuppy

    Make up your own damned quip, brother

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 1:06 p.m. CST

    Mischief Monkey Named George? - This President Bush Bio Pic?

    by Quin the Eskimo

    OMG YOU ARE SO FUNNY!!! LOL!!!WTF!!! I assume you must have attended Oxford since you are intellectually superior t ograduates of Yale and Harvard

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 3:14 p.m. CST

    This should have been live-action.

    by Truth0ne

    With a real chimp and Will Ferrell in the big yellow hat.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 3:39 p.m. CST

    Bi-Curious George

    by Bitterella

    Fuck Off, whoever shit this turd out. No one cares about a fucking 60's era monkey... The books were fun to learn how to read when I was 4 and that's it. Not a feature length movie. Arrrrrrrrrgh I have had it with movies. They are an absolute complete waste of time these days. They are a done medium, just being squeezed for every last cent before everything goes straight to DVD/HD-DVD/Holographic disk. Hollywood will die the death it deserves. Fuck you.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 4:25 p.m. CST

    I'm going to take my unborn fetus to this movie...

    by jollysleeve

    ...And if he seems restless or disinterested, it means it's not a good movie.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 4:25 p.m. CST

    Derek Smalls

    by LlGHTST0RMER

    Funny; that line stuck out in my mind, too. I think the reviewer was looking for juuuuust a little bit more from the film than he should've.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 4:28 p.m. CST

    Quin the Eskimo: Not for nothin', dude, but...

    by LlGHTST0RMER

    My son is intellectually superior to that particular graduate of Yale and Harvard. And he's four months old. And drools.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 6:17 p.m. CST

    The trailers to this were poison

    by jimmy_009

    I haven't seen a theater full of kids and adults so silent throughout a trailer of this sort in some time. This one is probably going to tank.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 7:32 p.m. CST

    This review sound dead on

    by quadrupletree

    Exactly what every preview of this movie looks like to me. Kind of sad since i loved CG as a kid. I'm pretty sure I'll be skipping this.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 9:44 p.m. CST

    Another childhood classic plundered by the Hollywood crap factor

    by covenant

    The Shat (um, Cat) in the Hat. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. (Maybe) Charlotte's Web (Julia Roberts?!? Jeez). Spielberg's Hook (somewhat redeemed by the more recent version of Peter Pan). Disney's recent Tuck Everlasting. Now Curious George. Hollywood should not be allowed to touch any more classic children's literature...betcha they somehow manage to screw up "Where the Wild Things Are," too. In their neverending pursuit of merchandising--such as the one TBer's kid with the handout from his kindergarten, soon to be followed by a Happy Meal, video games, toys, and an animated series. Just think about it: If the fucking bean counters in fucking Hollywood spent half the fucking time on plot and characterization that they fucking did on fucking merchandising and fucking tie-ins, they'd maybe make a half-decent fucking movie once in a while, instead of these fucking stillborn monstrosities. Sorry, I usually don't curse during these Talkbacks, but I'm tired of the Hollywood machine pillaging classic works in another effort to make a quick buck. I have a child in the movie's demographic range, and rest assured, he WON'T be seeing it. (Aside: At least they got Narnia (mostly) right)

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 10:03 p.m. CST

    "Let's just say that my Curious George doll is no longer cur

    by Osmosis Jones

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 11:23 p.m. CST

    Redesigned CG?

    by MondoGundark

    I much rather would have seen them strictly adhere to the original look of the books. The redesigned C. George looks like an anime version. Forget that.

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 5:22 p.m. CST

    Yeah, Covenant, but if they totally stayed away from classic kid

    by LlGHTST0RMER

    ...there'd be no Narnia, no Harry Potter, and probably not a LOTR trilogy. Not that I'm saying they're "kids" books in the strictest sense, but I'm certain that the bigger studios looked at The Lord of the Rings as mere "kids books" before New Line plunked down a few $100 mil and they made a billion or so back. Of course, with Potter, they already knew the movies would make a mint seeing how kids were already making JK Rowling a VERY wealthy woman. But that's why they're doing this shit. It's like any other big Hollywood trend. One huge movie scores big (Star Wars in '77, X-Men in 2000) and then the studios raid their property vaults for anything that can capture that same market. Even Monty Python made a joke of it in "The Life Of Brian" by sticking in a complete non-sequitur "Space Alien" sequence because damn near EVERY movie after Star Wars was space-related. ("Moonraker," anyone?) That's all it is, man... a trend with no adherence to a works' original charm.