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."