Curious George (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Matthew O'Callaghan|
|Screenplay by||Ken Kaufman|
by Margret Rey and H.A. Rey
|Edited by||Julie Rogers|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$69.8 million|
Curious George is a 2006 animated adventure comedy film based on the book series by H.A. Rey and Margret Rey. It was directed by Matthew O'Callaghan, who replaced Jun Falkenstein. Ken Kaufman wrote the screenplay based on a story by him and Mike Werb. Ron Howard, David Kirschner, and John Shapiro produced. It was released on February 10, 2006 by Universal Pictures. It stars Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, Dick Van Dyke, David Cross, Eugene Levy, and Joan Plowright, with Frank Welker voicing the titular character. It was and Imagine Entertainment's first fully animated film. The film also marks as the first theatrical film from Universal Animation Studios as it was released under Universal Feature Animation.
The film had been under development at Imagine Entertainment for a long time, dating back at least 1992, but it is possible that it was conceived years before. Although a traditionally animated film, it blends animation with computer generated, 3D scenery and objects that take up 20% of its environment. It features a musical score by Heitor Pereira, with songs produced by the musician Jack Johnson.
The film grossed $69.8 million from a $50 million budget and has a 69% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, which calls it "a bright, sweet, faithful adaptation".
A television series based on the film premiered seven months later.
The introduction of the movie is a cartoon short where we are introduced to a happy, artistic, and mischievous but lonely little orphaned monkey somewhere in the jungle. Meanwhile, Ted (Will Ferrell) is an employed guide at the Bloomsberry Museum. We are introduced to teacher Ms. Maggie Dunlop (Drew Barrymore) and her students who come to the museum often but they are the only regular visitors. Mr. Bloomsberry (Dick Van Dyke) heartbreakingly informs Ted that the museum will have to close because it is no longer making any money.
Mr. Bloomsberry's son, Junior (David Cross), wants to tear down the museum and replace it with a parking lot. 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 the "Lost Shrine of Zagawa" in the hopes that it will attract customers, much to Junior's envy. Ted is outfitted with a ridiculous yellow suit (which causes people to laugh at him) and boards a cargo ship to Africa despite his embarrassment.
With the help of a tour guide and tour group, Ted supposedly finds the idol, but discovers it to be only three inches tall, much to his disappointment. He sends a picture of it to the museum, but the unfortunate angle leads Mr. Bloomsbury to believe that the shrine was even taller than he had originally believed. Ted also encounters the little monkey and gives the monkey his yellow hat. The monkey, who quickly grows fond of Ted, follows him and boards the cargo ship, unbeknownst to Ted. Ted returns home to find advertisement for the shrine all over the city, much to his dismay. He enters his apartment only to receive a call from Mr. Bloomsberry telling him to report to the museum, so Ted can do an interview on the news.
The monkey follows Ted to his apartment, and is discovered busily repainting a penthouse apartment in full scale African animals and due to the strict "no pets allowed policy", Ted is evicted by grumpy Russian accented doorman Ivan (Ed O'Ross). 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 accidentally destroys an Apatosaurus skeleton.
Ted and the monkey sleep outside in the city park, and the next morning, Ted follows the monkey into the zoo, where Maggie and her young students name the monkey "George". George gets into trouble when he begins dangerously floating away on helium balloons high up over the city, prompting Ted commandeers a much larger amount of balloons and a kite to float over the city as well to save him. The chase finally comes to a head when George's balloons are popped by bird control spikes on a building and Ted catches him.
Ted and George make their way to the home of an inventor named Clovis (Eugene Levy), 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 so that Ted can reveal and explain his plan to Mr. Bloomsberry. Junior tries to convince his father that it would not be honest to fool the public, but Mr. Bloomsberry sees it as the only way to save the museum. Crushed by Mr. Bloomsbury’s gratitude to Ted while he is neglected, Junior foils Ted's plan altogether by pouring a cup of latte on the projector causing it to explode and frames George for it by giving the rest to him. Ted addresses the crowd outside of the museum, announcing that it would be closed permanently and they didn’t have the idol. Believing his life to be ruined, Ted allows animal control to take away George.
Ted speaks with Ms. Maggie who helps Ted "see" what is really important in his 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. Despite being devasted over not getting his parking lot, Junior gets a job as the valet, but finds joy in Mr. Bloomsbury finally being proud of him. Ivan invites Ted to move back to his apartment because he likes George, and Ted and Maggie almost start a romance, but George causes more trouble by starting up a rocket ship, forcing Ted to follow him.
- Will Ferrell as Ted Shackleford (The Man in the Yellow Hat), Curious George's friend. He is clumsy but resilient and compassionate. In a deleted scene, his last name is established as Shackleford.
- Drew Barrymore as Margaret "Maggie" Dunlop, a teacher and Ted's love interest. She is named after Margaret Rey, one of Curious George's creators.
- David Cross as Junior Bloomsberry, the son and only child of the museum's owner, who serves as the film's lead antagonist.
- Eugene Levy as Clovis, a museum employee who builds robotic animals to help him with his work.
- Joan Plowright as Ms. Plushbottom, Ted's neighbor. She is an opera singer.
- Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Bloomsberry, the kind, elderly owner of the museum.
- Frank Welker as Curious George, a curious monkey who is compassionate and clever, with a proficiency in visual art.
- Ed O'Ross as Ivan, the Russian doorman at Ted's apartment building.
- Michael Chinyamurindi as Edu, Ted's African guide.
- Kath Soucie as Animal Control Receptionist
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 July 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.
The film was released to 2,566 theaters on February 10, 2006, and opened at #3 with a total opening weekend gross of $14.7 million averaging $5,730 per theater. The film grossed $58.4 million in the United States and $11.5 million overseas, totaling $69.8 million worldwide. The film was released in the United Kingdom on May 26, 2006, and opened on #5.
The film has a 69% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 103 review; the average rating is 6.1/10. The site's consensus reads: "Curious George is a bright, sweet, faithful adaptation of the beloved children's books."
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 television 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 negative about the film, criticizing the quality of the animation, the music, and other aspects.
Lowry states 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" complements 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 the Pocahontas soundtrack reigned for one week in July 1995.
A sneak peek for the sequel, Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey! was included in the special features for The Tale of Despereaux. The sequel was released on March 2, 2010. 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. A second sequel, Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle was released on June 23, 2015.
- "Curious George". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-11-04.
- "Curious George (2006) - Box Office Mojo". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
- 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.
- "Weekend box office 26th May 2006 - 28th May 2006". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
- "Curious George (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- Ebert, Roger (2006-02-10). "Curious George". Rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
- Gleiberman, Owen (2006-02-10). "Movie Review: Curious George (2006)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-03-14.
- Lowry, Brian (2006-02-04). "Curious George". Variety. Reed Business. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
- Covert, Colin (2006-02-10). "Movie review: A curiously mild 'Curious George': "Curious George" stays true to its gentle beginnings". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on 2009-07-28. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
- "Curious George In Production for PBS KIDS". PBS Press Release. 2005-01-14. Retrieved 2016-10-28.
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