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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.14%
Worth A Look: 38.1%
Average: 7.14%
Pretty Bad45.24%
Total Crap: 2.38%

5 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Curious George
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by William Goss

"Monkey Business"
2 stars

Deep in the jungles of Africa, one man searching for an ancient relic instead finds a young monkey, which returns with him to the United States. As it turns out, the monkey is carrying a deadly disease, a virus that threatens to create an epidemic of enorm-- Oh, wait. Wrong movie.

Unleashed upon the masses is a second-rate animated adaptation of Curious George, H.A. Rey’s first-rate staple of children’s literature. Director Matthew O’Callaghan and a team of about ten writers are more than happy to overdevelop the story of the ever-inquisitive monkey (they gave the Man in the Yellow Hat a name!), and then they bring it to life with all the quality of a direct-to-video release. George embodied the simple qualities of childhood, and it was the simple stories of his that garnered such appeal, not an puffy – and predictable – narrative stretched to feature length.

As it turns out, the Man in the Yellow Hat (Will Ferrell) is named Ted (bah!), and he works at the Bloomsberry Museum, the owner of which (Dick Van Dyke) sends Ted to Africa to fetch a legendary artifact in a last-ditch effort to boost museum attendance before Bloomsberry Jr. (David Cross) makes a parking lot out of it. After being duped into purchasing his infamous yellow wardrobe, Ted finally makes his way to Africa where he meets George, who manages to follow him back across the ocean and into the big city. Besides a brief prologue, there is no George during all this exposition. Not only is a labored story to go with, it is deeper than a Curious George movie needs. Anyway, hijinks and forced whimsy ensue. (Oh, and then there’s the requisite romance between Ted and a local teacher, voiced by Drew Barrymore. I’ll give you three guesses as to how that ends.)

The initial introduction of George pegs him as a bad influence to his jungle pals, an advocate of anarchy garnering an endless amount of parental glares. Okay, so maybe he isn’t that deliberate, but he is indeed mischievous, which does fit the profile. In fact, perhaps the only thing that could have been done to spoil the charm of George would be to have him speak, which the filmmakers mercilessly opt out of. However, of those who do speak, the voice acting is rather flat, from the unenthusiastic participation of Van Dyke and Barrymore, to the restrained sarcasm of Ferrell and Cross.

The animation is certainly admirable at times, but the intrusive inclusion of three-dimensional environments manages to distract from the otherwise tolerable execution. In a more commendable move, all of the original songs are performed by Jack Johnson, whose work is certainly a step up from the typical tunes that litter similar fare. Then again, despite each nice touch and every cute quip, there are about three blemishes in its place. Even with its flamboyant color schemes, the entire film feels like a paint-by-numbers project, a calculated commercial effort for the inescapable toys, sequels, and television series. If a studio is going to create a franchise to rake in the dough, it would be nice to have them mold their own money-raking entity and leave their hands off sacred properties like George until more passionate artistic forces approached it.

Then, even for a kid’s movie (and make no mistake, this is a kid’s movie, not a family film), there is the rather weak ending, one that might be a stretch even by a toddler’s standards. Though it may be children’s fare, they deserve better than this version of 'Curious George.' However, lest some adults are inevitably dragged to it by their offspring, perhaps all the grown-ups can share a jug of ether, for both nostalgia’s sake and their own good.

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originally posted: 02/21/06 20:46:04
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User Comments

3/31/19 David I agree with this review-- the movie strikes me as a bit smug. 2 stars
3/18/16 Charles Tatum Charming and funny 4 stars
6/15/14 Brittany Davis How can Universal ruin such a wonderful little children's book?! 1 stars
11/06/07 Tiffany Losco So cute, makes me want a monkey. Daughter loves george 5 stars
5/03/07 David Pollastrini liked the books better 3 stars
5/03/07 David Cohen Not bad, but why is George a secondary character in his own movie? 3 stars
3/06/07 ES My little one can't get enough of it, it's the only thing that makes him sit still 5 stars
5/30/06 Philip Buckley-Mellor My kids (10 & 6) think this is the best film ever made! 5 stars
5/22/06 sweetgrrl1972 Great kids movie. George is completely adorable. 4 stars
2/13/06 doink cute, pleasant, and fun for kids 4 stars
2/11/06 zolkeflee do it over action 3 stars
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  10-Feb-2006 (G)
  DVD: 26-Sep-2006



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