Curious George (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Matthew O'Callaghan|
|Produced by||Ron Howard
|Screenplay by||Ken Kaufman|
|Story by||Ken Kaufman
|Based on||Curious George
by Margret Rey
Hans Augusto Rey
Dick Van Dyke
Frank Welker as Curious George, himself.
|Music by||Heitor Pereira (score)
Jack Johnson (songs)
A. Film A/S
Universal Animation Studios
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||87 minutes|
Curious George is a 2006 animated adventure family film based on the book series by H.A. and Margret Rey. It features the voices of Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, Dick Van Dyke, David Cross, Eugene Levy, Joan Plowright, Michael Sorich, Michael Chinyamurindi, Clint Howard, Ed O'Ross, and Frank Welker as the title character. Matthew O'Callaghan directed (after replacing Jun Falkenstein). This project had been in development hell at Imagine Entertainment for a long time, dating back at least as long ago as 1992 (and possibly many years before this).
The screenplay was written by Ken Kaufman, with a story by Kaufman and Mike Werb. Although it is a traditionally animated film, about twenty percent of it takes place in 3D environments that were computer-generated. It was the first Universal Pictures theatrically released feature-length animated film since 1995's Balto, and Imagine Entertainment's first animated film.
After the feature film was released, the franchise was adapted to a TV series on PBS Kids.
The introduction of the movie is a cartoon short where we are introduced to a happy and mischievous but lonely little monkey somewhere in the jungle. Ted is an employed guide at the Bloomsberry Museum. We are introduced to teacher Ms. Dunlop and her students who come to the museum often but they are the only regular visitors. Mr. Bloomsberry heartbreakingly informs Ted that the museum will have to close, because it is no longer making any money. Bloomsberry's son, Junior, wants to tear down the museum, and replace it with a parking garage. Ted is convinced to volunteer to go to Africa in place of Mr. Bloomsberry and bring back a mystical, forty-foot-tall idol known as "Lost Shrine of Zagawa" in the hopes that it will attract customers. He is outfitted with a hideous yellow suit (which causes people to laugh at him), and boards a cargo ship to Africa.
With the help of a tour guide and tour group, Ted finds the "Lost Shrine of Zagawa", but discovers it to be only three inches tall, much to his disappointment. Ted also encounters the little monkey on his expedition to Africa, and gives the monkey his yellow hat. The monkey, who quickly grows fond of Ted, follows him and boards the cargo ship, unknown to Ted. Ted returns home, and enters his apartment, only to receive a call from Bloomsberry telling him to report to the museum, so Ted can do an interview on the news. The monkey follows Ted to his apartment, the monkey is discovered busily repainting a posh apartment in full scale African animals and due to the "no pet policy", Ted is evicted by doorman Ivan. Ted returns to the museum, and reveals to Bloomsberry the idol's size. Ted is kicked out of the museum by Junior, after the monkey destroys an Apatosaurus skeleton.
Ted and the monkey sleep outside in the park, and the next morning, Ted follows the monkey into the zoo, where Ms. Dunlop and her young students name the monkey "George". George gets into trouble and begins dangerously floating away on balloons high up over the city, Ted takes flight as well. George's balloons are popped by spikes on a building and Ted saves him from certain death. Ted and George make their way to the home of an inventor named Clovis, where George uses an overhead projector to increase the idol's size making it appear 40 feet tall. Ted and George head to the museum to show Bloomsberry the invention, but Junior, determined to get his parking garage, sabotages Ted's plan by pouring hot coffee on the machine and framing George. Believing his life to be ruined, Ted allows animal control to take away George.
Ted speaks with Ms. Dunlop who helps Ted "see" what is really important in Ted's life. Ted regrets the decision to give George to animal control, and boards George's cargo ship to get him back. Ted tells George that nothing else matters besides their "buddyship". In the hold of the ship, George discovers that when reflected in light, the idol reveals a pictogram with the message "turn your eye to the light, go from blindness to sight". It turns out that when held up to the sun, the small idol is actually a map to the real idol. They sail the ship back to Africa and George helps him find the real idol which is, indeed, forty feet tall.
The idol is put in the museum, and the museum goes back in business, and becomes more successful than ever when it becomes more hands-on because of the addition of Clovis's inventions, the interaction with Ms. Dunlop and her young students and, of course, George. Ivan invites Ted to move back to his apartment because he likes George, and Ted and Ms. Dunlop start a romance, almost.
- Frank Welker as Curious George, a monkey living in Africa with his friends, until he follows Ted to what is apparently New York City. George is constantly curious, quite innocent of the consequences of his investigations, and compassionate. He is very clever and has an impressive proficiency in visual art, as well as a strong sense of natural beauty.
- Will Ferrell as Ted (The Man in the Yellow Hat), Curious George's friend. He is sent to find the Lost Shrine of Zagawa. He finds George and eventually befriends him loyally. Ted is somewhat clumsy, but remarkably resilient and compassionate. In a deleted scene, his last name is established as Shackleford.
- Drew Barrymore as Margaret "Maggie" Dunlop, a teacher who brings her students to the Bloomsberry museum every Thursday, partly out of duty and partly out of her own romantic admiration for the dedicated and handsome Ted. Maggie is honest with Ted and presumably with her students, who express no visible reaction to her courtship of him.
- David Cross as Junior Bloomsberry, the son and only child of the museum's owner, and the main antagonist of the film. He believes the museum would be of more use as a parking garage. He bears little physical appearance to his father, and is apparently jealous of Ted, who is one of the elder Bloomsberry's favorites. Ultimately, Junior becomes his father's employee and thereby earns the elder's much-coveted praise.
- Eugene Levy as Clovis, a museum employee who is an eccentric inventor. He builds robotic animals to help him with his work.
- Joan Plowright as Ms. Plushbottom, a neighbor of Ted's at his apartment building, Ms. Plushbottom is an opera singer about to have her room repainted. George shocks her by painting murals in her room. She takes long baths while wearing slices of cucumber on her eyelids and reacts noisily when people surprise her. She is the owner of a parking garage near the museum, which draws a great deal of revenue. The revelation of this is somewhat to Junior's annoyance.
- Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Bloomsberry, the kind elderly owner of the museum. Mr. Bloomsberry runs into trouble when profits are down and his son wants to turn the museum into a parking lot. He sends Ted to Africa to find the Lost Shrine of Zagawa, to hopefully attract customers to the museum.
- Ed O'Ross as Ivan, the doorman at Ted's apartment building, and possibly its landlord. When George finds his way to Ted's apartment, Ivan evicts both of them. At the end of the film, he befriends George, who had painted a portrait of Ivan on its model's back and gives Ted his apartment room back. Ivan is a large man who speaks with something akin to a Russian accent and has an especially sharp sense of smell. He can often be belligerent and frightening, though he is softhearted when George shows a liking for him. He starts off as a minor antagonist of the film. At the end, he becomes one of the protagonists.
- Michael Chinyamurindi as Edu, Ted's African guide on both expeditions made to find the Lost Shrine of Zagawa. He is patient with Ted's clumsiness and speaks little to him, smiling indulgently.
In various points during its development, it was proposed that the film be entirely CG or live-action mixed with CG, before the decision was finally made to use traditional animation to bring the titular character to life. As of 2001, Brad Bird had written a script for the film.
Director Matthew O’Callaghan greatly appreciated having Dick Van Dyke voice one of the characters. "I was surprised when I actually finally met him that he had never done an animated voice before, with his association with Disney for all those years. I was just blown away so I’m going, ‘This is great,’ because as an animation director you always want to use people who are fresh, who haven’t done animated voices – at least I do." he said.
CG Supervisor Thanh John Nguyen states that they tried to duplicate the look of the cars in the book, which Executive Producer Ken Tsumura describes as bearing the look of the 1940s and 1950s; According to Production Designer Yarrow Cheney, the filmmakers also partnered with Volkswagen to design the red car that Ted drives, simplifying it a bit and rounding the edges. Cheney also said that prior to this they had based some of the models on Volkswagens due to their suitability.
Reception and box office performance
When the film was released to 2,566 theaters on February 10, 2006 and opened at #3 with a total opening weekend gross of $14,703,405 averaging to about $5,730 per theater. The film grossed a better-than-expected $58.3 million in the United States and $11.4 million overseas, totaling $69.8 million worldwide and becoming a minor success. The film was received fairly well by critics and earned a 69% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert praised the design of the film and its faithfulness to the "spirit and innocence of the books." Since he himself didn't particularly enjoy the film, Ebert made an exception in this case in recommending it for young children based on its better qualities, a point on which he said he disagreed somewhat with his TV show co-host Richard Roeper. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly was "pleasantly surprised" by the film's calm tone, which he found to be against modern trends, but said that George was perhaps a bit too sweet and that the "movie comes close to denying he's any sort of troublemaker". He noted somewhat negatively the few modern anachronisms in the film. Brian Lowry of Variety was fairly negative of the film, criticizing the quality of the animation, the music, and other aspects. Lowry notes that there are some updates to the story, such as that "The Man in the Yellow Hat" from the books is finally given a name. He also notes that David Cross' animated character bears a strong resemblance to the actor himself. Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune noted that the film's use of "traditional cell [sic] painting and digital effects" compliments the original watercolor illustrations, and thought the film entertaining and yet still quite simple. He considered the difficulties in adapting the original stories (in which George basically causes trouble and the Man in the Yellow Hat fixes it all up) into a film, and how some conflict and a slight romantic subplot were added.
Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George is the soundtrack to the film, featuring songs by Jack Johnson and Sally Williams. In its first week on Billboard 200 albums chart, the soundtrack made it to number one, making it Jack Johnson's first number one album (In Between Dreams peaked at two, On and On peaked at three) and making it the first soundtrack to reach number one since the Bad Boys II soundtrack in August 2003 and the first soundtrack to an animated film to top the Billboard 200 since Pocahontas reigned for one week in July 1995.
Home media history
- September 26, 2006 (VHS and DVD) (Last Universal Pictures film released on VHS)
- March 20, 2007 (DVD - 2-pack with The Land Before Time)
- November 6, 2007 (DVD - 2-movie collection with Babe) (Note: This is a widescreen DVD box set only.)
- August 5, 2008 (Carrying Case DVD with Fun Activity Book - Universal Watch on the Go) (Note: This is a pan and scan DVD copy only.)
The film aired on HBO and Cinemax from 2007 to 2008. Following Aladdin, the film aired on ABC Family on November 18, 2008, with an encore presentation on November 19, 2008, along with a repeat of Garfield: The Movie. The film aired on Nickelodeon on December 19, 2010. PBS aired it from November 23, 2011 onwards.
The plot for the sequel centers around George becoming friends with a young elephant named Kayla. George tries to help Kayla travel across the country to be reunited with her family.
- Ball, Ryan (2006-02-10). "Moviegoers Get Curious". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 2008-12-29.
- Linder, Brian (2001-07-31). "Grazer Curious About CG George". IGN. Retrieved 2008-12-29.
- Murray, Rebecca. "Director Matthew O'Callaghan Talks About the Family Movie "Curious George"". About.com. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
- Curious George. Bonus Features: A Very Curious Car (DVD). Universal Studios Home Entertainment. 2006.
- Ebert, Roger (2006-02-10). "Curious George". Rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
- Gleiberman, Owen (2006p-02-10). "Movie Review: Curious George (2006)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-03-14.
- Lowry, Brian (2006-02-04). "Curious George". Variety. Reed Business. Retrieved 2009-03-14.
- Covert, Colin (2006-02-10). "Movie review: A curiously mild 'Curious George': "Curious George" stays true to its gentle beginnings.". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
- Amazon.com: Curious George Carrying Case: Drew Barrymore, David Cross, Richard Epcar, Donald Fullilove, Bridget Hoffman, Clint Howard, Rif Hutton, Donna Lynn Leavy, John Mariano, Ed O'Ross, Joan Plowright, Kath Soucie, Dick Van Dyke, Wendy Cutler, Eugene Levy, Frank Welker, Jeff Bennett, Kimberly Brooks, Jonny Solomon, Michael Sorich, Heitor Pereira, Klaus Badelt: Movies & TV
- Official website [Archived December 30, 2006]
- Curious George at the Internet Movie Database
- Curious George at Box Office Mojo
- Curious George at Rotten Tomatoes
- Information on Curious George