I AM CURIOUS, GEORGE
A SURPRISINGLY GOOD KIDS FILM THAT DOESN'T SCREW UP

Curious George was one of those last remaining great children's books that had not been screwed up as a movie.  Granted, it works from time to time, but with garbage like The Polar Express, both Dr. Seuss debacles, and Disney's sickeningly cute Winnie The Pooh travesties, its hard to get your hopes up when a film adaptation is announced.  Curious George has been in planning stages for quite sometime, with rumors ranging from a live action version with a CGI monkey, to a completely computer animated version ala Pixar.  I'm happy to say that they did the ol' monkey proud.  Boasting good old fashioned ink animation, and a G rating that it wears without shame, it's like a classic from the 50s was locked in a time vault and opened up to show today's audiences that good characters, funny stories, and slapstick comedy can still go a long way.

Wil Ferrell provides the voice for The Man With The Yellow Hat, who was never actually given a name in the books, but since that obviously creates a problem for the many characters who interact with him, he's called "Ted" in the film.  It's pretty much the bumbling wacky schtick you've grown to expect from Ferrell, but it works well here.  Other celebrity voice standouts are Dick Van Dyke as the doddering Mr. Bloomberg who owns the museum Ted works at, and David Cross as Bloomberg's bitter son who's eager to turn the failing institution into a parking garage and make some cash.  Drew Barrymore's character, only appears sparingly, as a school-teacher who's crazy about Ted.

Ted goes off to Africa to find a giant idol that will bring crowds and cash back to the museum, and stumbles upon George while he's there.  While the original books had The Man With The Yellow Hat grabbing George with a net and bringing him to The States against his will, the screenwriters take a less insensitive path and have George stowaway on the ship so he can return Ted's gigantic yellow hat that he left behind.

Several classic scenes from the books are fleshed out and they're as charming as they were before.  There's even nods to some of the preposterous situations, like when Ted muses, "Who leaves 8 open cans of paint out in their apartment, anyway?"  George's charm is infectious and of course steals every scene he's in. 

If you're a fan of the books, you'll certainly not be disappointed with the movie.  And it's one of the few family films lined up for the year that's rated G.  It's always a shame to see otherwise good kids films throw in sparse adult language just to get the PG.  I brought my kids and their two friends to see it and they laughed throghout.  The 6 year olds thought it was just fantastic, and the 9 year olds weren't exactly raving, but they enjoyed it nonetheless.

Hopefully it'll continue to make even more kids read the original work, which remain some of the best children's books ever written.

Now I can get back to worrying how they're going to screw up the Where The Wild Things Are movie.

-Robert Berry
rberry@retrocrush.com

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CURIOUS GEORGE YARMULKE!

 

 

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