Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Curious George

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
8 out of 10
Extras Rating:
5 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: G

Starring:
Will Ferrell as Ted, The Man in the Yellow Hat (voice)
Drew Barrymore as Maggie (voice)
David Cross as Bloomsberry, Jr. (voice)
Eugene Levy as Clovis (voice)
Joan Plowright as Miss Plushbottom (voice)
Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Bloomsberry (voice)

Special Features:
Jack Johnson music video with sing-along feature

15 deleted scenes - even more monkey business

Featurette: Monkey Around with Words

Featurette: Drawn to George - learn to draw your favorite monkey

Featurette: Monkey in Motion - see how an animation artist makes George come alive

Over 10 interactive games and activities

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Audio
French and Spanish Languages
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 925 Minutes

Synopsis:
"Curious George" is based on the classic books by author H. A. Rey and his wife Margret.

Ted loves his work at the local museum, but lagging interest threatens to close its doors. Looking to revive attendance with a spectacular new exhibit, Ted goes on an expedition to the jungles of Africa to find an ancient statue. While there he runs across George, a curious little monkey that gets into everything. When Ted returns to the city after finding a significantly smaller statue then he was expecting, George follows along.

As soon as George arrives in the city, he wreaks havoc by destroying cars, grabbing a woman, and fighting airplanes from the top of the Empire State Building. (Sorry, wrong movie!) Ted soon finds his hands full with the troublesome chimp. But matters are made worse when the museum owner, Mr. Bloomsberry, jumps the gun and advertises a much larger statue than what Ted returned with. How will Ted save the museum and what role will Curious George play to save the day?

"Curious George" is rated G.

The Movie:
Like most kids, I grew up reading Curious George books. I've also read them with my own children and they've enjoyed them, too. So I was a little wary going into the "Curious George" film. I wasn't sure the movie could live up to my expectations. But after viewing it, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a nice little film that was funny and entertained the whole family.

Will Ferrell is a big part of why this movie works. He plays Ted, The Man in the Yellow Hat. (His yellow outfit is a running gag throughout the whole movie.) His nice guy routine and funny side comments about the events in the film make him an appealing character. He's a perfect straight man for the animated monkey. Fortunately, Ferrell's routine doesn't overshadow the star of the picture Curious George. From the opening 5 minutes of the film you love the character. As he plays with the various animals in the jungle, you laugh at his antics and quickly fall in love with him.

While the movie breaks new ground for the sake of the story, it still remains faithful to the books. For example, you see George destroy a dinosaur skeleton, fly away on balloons, pour paint in a woman's bath, and other familiar antics. However, you also see him play with a hologram machine, drive a forklift, and other new tricks. The animation is also fairly different from the art in the books, but it's still very much in the spirit of what you know and love. It doesn't do any new tricks with 2-D animation, but the style is pleasing to the eye and the colors are bright and cheerful. (Fans of the books will love seeing some original style artwork in the closing credits.)

Ferrell and the monkey are supported by a good cast. Most notable is Arrested Development's David Cross as Bloomsberry, Jr. There's no mistaking him as his animated incarnation looks just like the man in real life (but with a ponytail). He provides a lot of laughs as he terrorizes Ferrell. It's also fun to hear Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Bloomsberry. He adds even more nostalgia to the picture as the museum director. Drew Barrymore is sweet as Maggie, Ted's love interest, but she has very little to do in this movie. Eugene Levy is also barely used as Clovis, Ted's scientific genius friend.

Jack Johnson provides the music for the film and it's pretty good. You won't remember much about it after you leave the theater, but it sets the mood for the film perfectly and has a nice mellow sound.

I had a couple of minor nitpicks about "Curious George". First of all, there were at least a couple of product placements in the film. You see George break into a crate of Dole bananas. You also see Ted driving a VW car. While they attempt to be subtle with the ads, they seem out of place in a film based on a classic children's book.

And as much fun as "Curious George" is, it kind of loses steam at the end. It gets a bit sappier and some of the stunts become more outrageous. This isn't a big deal, but adults may get restless instead of the kids for a change.

The Extras:
The bonus features on this DVD are aimed squarely at young kids, not adults. You won't find any in-depth making of feature, interviews with Ferrell or Barrymore, or retrospectives on the books. What you will find is a few games, the Jack Johnson music video, a tutorial on how to draw George, and a Read Along. You'll also find a surprising 15 deleted scenes, all of which are entertaining. But the oddest addition is the "Monkey in Motion" feature which details how they used the VW car in the film. Obviously, this is more product placement at work. It's sad that the VW featurette is the closest thing we get to a 'making of' feature.

The Bottom Line:
"Curious George" was a fun film to show the family. I loved seeing my childhood books played out on the screen and my kids absolutely loved George's antics. It was also a relief not to take them to a children's film filled with innuendo (ala Imagine's other kid's book film, "The Grinch"). Parents can rest easy.

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