Curious George

It's nice to see Curious George finally adapted to the big screen, and even nicer seeing that the filmmakers stayed true to the books.  The movie is very simple, opting for a straightforward telling of the story rather than anything flashy.  It's pretty interesting given the supposedly long and tortured production history, with close to eighteen screenwriters working on various versions of the script.  At one point, George was supposed to speak.  Thankfully, this did not come through to the final screenplay by David Reynolds (Finding Nemo, The Jungle Book 2) and Ken Kaufman (The Missing, Space Cowboys).

Director Matthew O'Callaghan goes for simplicity above all else.  There is no reason to ruin the books by Margret and H.A. Rey.  The one drawback is that while Curious George is a safe and innocuous film for children, it will be a dreadful bore to anybody over the age of ten.  However, this is better than the hyperactive stupidity that usually passes for "children's fare."  Everything about the movie is innocent.  There is not one tasteless joke in sight, which is highly refreshing.  The animation is predominantly hand-drawn, which actually complements the story nicely.  O'Callaghan probably could have used more CGI, but that would make the character look unlike their counterparts in the books, as well as bring a more modern element to an otherwise timeless story.

The reason why the Curious George books are so enchanting for children is the wide-eyed sense of wonder that George has. Everything is an adventure, and he has a childlike curiosity. George (voiced by Frank Welker, New York Minute, Looney Tunes: Back in Action) wreaks havoc in a very safe and friendly way, with is friend Ted (voiced by Will Ferrell, The Producers, Wedding Crashers) always there to keep in out of any real trouble. Ted found George in Africa, where he was on an expedition to find an ancient statue. The museum that Ted works at is in trouble, and this giant statue is exactly what it needs to stay in business. Sadly, the statue isn't what anybody expected, but Ted does come back with George.

George takes an instant liking to Ted, who is initially annoyed. But who can resist somebody as cute and innocent at George? Ted's attitude eventually changes for the better, and everybody around learns some really nice lessons. Again, Curious George is different in that there is a spirit of innocence missing from other children's films. It is also child-safe, but this comes at the expense of the parent's enjoyment. There are new songs by Jack Johnson, which are also kid-safe, but his acoustic guitar-driven soft rock just doesn't feel like it belongs here.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 26 minutes, Rated G.

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