film review **: Monkey Business for Adults
...Curious George... Entertains All Ages
By Yong-yi Zhu
Directed by Matthew O’Callaghan
Written by Robert Baird and Dan Gerson
Based on “Curious George” created by H.A. and Margret Rey
We all know Curious George from our childhood, the little monkey whose affinity for the unknown constantly got him into trouble. He entertained us with his adventures and his daring outlook on whatever he wanted to do. We only wished we had as much courage as that little monkey.
Now, however, George comes to us on the big screen. The question is whether we, now adults, can sit through an hour and a half of watching a non-talking monkey and man in a bright yellow suit voiced by Will Ferrell. The answer, surprisingly, is an emphatic yes. Sure, there are parts of the movie that are a little slow for adults, but in general it is still enjoyable.
The animation in the film is not very imaginative, but that was never the point of ‘Curious George.’ He is simple yet cute, not detailed but lovable, a character little kids like. The movie stays true to the idea that this is a children’s book without glitz and glamour. True, there are scenes with a more three-dimensional feel, but they’re there mainly to enhance the scenery and make the experience more modern, rather than to just add pizzazz for the sake of pizzazz. Unfortunately, the problem with having such a simple presentation is that the animation soon gets repetitive. Watching the same expressions appear on George again and again gets tedious at times.
Despite that, what really sells the movie to adults is the amount of emotion generated with such a simple plot. The film follows the man in the yellow suit, Ted (voiced by Will Ferrell), who needs to go to Africa to find a gigantic lost monkey idol. On his journey, he experiences sabotage and can only manage to find a tiny version of this idol. Thus, the museum he is desperately trying to save plunges into turmoil.
On the trip, Ted meets George and the monkey stows away on the ship to go back to the big city with Ted. George then gets the museum guide into all sorts of trouble, as he causes the man to be evicted from his apartment and destroys a dinosaur display at the museum. The question is, however, whether Ted will be able to save the museum and put his career and life back on track.
Through this adventure, the audience develops a connection with George and Ted as we believe that monkeys are truly able to empathize with human pain, even if they may look dumb on the outside.
The movie would have lost much of its appeal had the voice-overs not been effective. Will Ferrell was decent, as he somehow managed to convince the audience to take him seriously. The funniest character by far is voiced by Eugene Levy, whose portrayal of the scientist Clovis adds to George’s playful antics to make for some of the funniest scenes in the movie.
Drew Barrymore, however, did a horrible job as the schoolteacher, Maggie. Instead of portraying a legitimate teacher, Barrymore showcases her somewhat ditsy personality in her voice, where ‘Fever Pitch’ meets ‘Never Been Kissed.’ Thank goodness her character was only a small part of the film.
The most delightful aspect of the movie, by far, is the music. Jack Johnson did a terrific job of not only capturing the childishness of the film, but also the emotions that went along with it: despair, joy, and nostalgia. Before long, you may find yourself going out to buy the soundtrack to a movie that is quite funny and enjoyable, even to those over the age of five.