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The Independent Critic

Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, Dick Van Dyke
Matthew O'Callaghan
Ken Kaufman, Mike Werb
Rated G
86 Mins.
 "Curious George" Review 
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"Curious George," the new animated film starring Will Ferrell as The Man in the Yellow Hat, is a remarkably faithful adaptation of the beloved children's book series by H.A. Reyes.

This $50 million film beautifully captures the innocence and gentle spirit of the books by creating a film that is clearly targeted at children but contains enough spirit and charm to keep older children and even adults from being too bored by the proceedings.

This cinematic version gives us, essentially, the basics of the Curious George story. We are treated to Ted (We learn that this is The Man in the Yellow Hat's name) takes off on his expedition to Africa in an attempt to save the museum where he works by discovering a long lost ancient temple. It is on this trip that he first encounters George, the curious yet sweet monkey who follows him home when he returns with disappointing expedition results.

"Curious George" is a rarity among today's animated films. It is NOT loaded down with double entendres, hidden media references or inside adult jokes. It is, quite contentedly, a children's film.

Much like the books, George never speaks. He is simply curious and lives out this curiosity in a variety of mischievous yet harmless ways. Along with Ferrell, Drew Barrymore is Maggie, a sweet teacher who brings her class weekly to Ted's Bloomsberry Museum mainly because she harbors a secret crush on Ted. Dick Van Dyke voices Bloomsberry himself, and Eugene Levy, David Cross and Joan Plowright show up in supporting characters.

The film, however, settles simply and plainly on good ole' Curious George. While I must confess I have a hard time finding the justification for a $50 million budget, I must also give major kudos as the animators did an absolutely wonderful job of creating George with personality, spark, sweetness and this childlike quality that is mesmerizing.

Indie singer Jack Johnson wrote several new songs for the film, most playing out like a cross between James Taylor and Mr. Rogers. Johnson's songs generally accompany the film's gentle spirit quite nicely, though they do seem to become a bit bland by the end of the film.

I feel rather odd reviewing "Curious George" and even more odd giving it a "B." I'm acutely aware that this rating is higher than at least a few films I would have to consider higher quality films. Yet, for me, "Curious George" succeeds marvelously in its goal to be a faithful, entertaining tribute to a beloved childhood character. In a world where so many filmmakers try to be all things to all people, I find it incredibly refreshing to watch a film that surrenders itself so completely to entertaining children.

"Curious George" is a curious little hit and a marvelous film for parents with small children. With a unique blend of innocence, tenderness, gentle humor and downright silliness "Curious George" is a winner.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic