Curious George

| February 6, 2006

If you have little kids and you want to go to the movies there is really only one thing you need to know about Curious George. It’s perfect.
It’s cute. It’s smart. It’s got a good story. It teaches loyalty to friends. It teaches respect of others. It’s got great music. In the screening I went to with about 200 kids, I can tell you they all paid rapt attention. And one more bonus: Adults will like it, too!
With Curious George, Universal Pictures, Ron Howard (producing) and Matthew O’Callaghan (director) have fired a shot across the animation bow for 2006, setting the Oscar bar WAY high for several films due out this year: Disney’s Toy Story 3, Pixars’ Cars, and DreamWorks’ Over The Hedge. They also have left the class of 2005 (with films like the nominated Howl’s Moving Castle, Corpse Bride, Wallace & Gromit, and – ugh – Hoodwinked) WAY behind.
Featuring the voice talents of Will Ferrell, Dick Van Dyke, David Cross, and Drew Barrymore, Curious George takes the series of seven books written in the 1940’s by Margret and H.A Rey and brings them to life in a wondrous way. The books usually had George getting into some type of trouble by being overly-curious and the man with the yellow hat getting him out of it. This is paralleled from the very beginning of the movie with a 4 minute segment of George investigating the jungle around him and being rebuked by all of the other adult animals for fooling around and not being “adult.” The books were supposed to give children lessons in a way they could easily comprehend and the movie is true to those motivations. For the record, since George has no tail, he’s actually a chimpanzee, but because his creators originally dubbed him a monkey, he’s been referred to as one ever since.
In this incarnation of Curious George, The Man in the Yellow Hat, Ted (Ferrell) is attempting to save the cash strapped museum that he works in by finding an ancient lost statue. This would bring crowds of paying customers and prevent the building from being leveled for a parking lot by the museum owner’s son.
The colors are very primary – tons of yellow, and red, and blue and green. It is perfectly attractive for the younger audience and not at all displeasing for the adults that they bring with them. It is very true to the books you read as a child and have bought for your children.
What really holds the movie together is the music. Former professional surfer Jack Johnson has written and performed songs that are completely and thoroughly wonderful. From the very beginning of the movie to the final credits they string us through the film with melodies that are easy to listen to and fit the story all the way through. When it comes time for the For Your Consideration ads in November of ’06, I hope every voter is sent a copy of this soundtrack.
With the movie coming out, the Universal Consumer Products Group has added 60 licensees to the 20-30 that already existed with promotional partnerships ranging from Wendy’s to Quaker Oats Cereals. “From a merchandising standpoint, we’re aiming at 3- to 7-year-olds,” said Beth Goss, executive VP at Universal Studios Consumer Products Group. “The brand essence of George is his curiosity. I think that’s the story you’ll see in the movie and it’s the essence of the TV series, which is all about teaching early math and science. George is unique in that we haven’t in a long time had a title with such a young focus.”
In other words, you are about to be inundated with Curious George EVERYTHING. And since the movie is very, very good, they’re gonna make BILLIONS!

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