Curious George (2006)

“Curious George” takes the adaptation in the right direction, with new character changes that work well. As a fan of the book series, and as someone who grew up reading this wonderful series, I was anxious to see “Curious George.” And the child in me wasn’t let down. The man in the yellow hat is now named Ted. And his yellow suit is one he was tricked into wearing. And I like it. Many other questions are answered in this big screen animated adaptation (How did George get his name?) that I can describe as one of the most adorable animated films I’ve seen in years.

Explorer Ted (Will Ferrell) journeys to Africa in hopes of recovering an important artifact for his museum director friend, Bloomsberry (Dick Van Dyke). Instead, he discovers an irrepressible little primate named George, who stows away on the ship back to New York City. There, Ted tries to stop plans to demolish the museum, but he has his hands full taking care of his new simian friend, whose curiosity may turn out to be more beneficial than anyone had imagined.

George’s world is large, colorful and utterly worthy of endless exploration and the child-like symbolism behind this bright eyed monkey isn’t lost. Like a primate Dennis the Menace, George views everything with a smile, even when confronted with dangerous animals in his own land. Ted didn’t take George, George followed him home, and that’s a great change to people who suggested and sometimes griped about The man in the yellow hat being a poacher who stole George from his own world. Thankfully, the people at Universal animate the film in good old-fashioned hand drawn style, and it benefits the end product. Writer Kaufman does everything right here, and keeps this from being a complete cash-in.

As with all the books, this sets down on Ted, but really this is about our resident monkey exploring the city of Boston. Jack Johnson’s wonderful score is an excellent compliment to the emotion behind the story of Ted and this rambunctious monkey. The scenes of discovery and guiltless adventure make for some of the most adorable moments. The immortal Frank Welker gives an excellent performance as the rambunctious George, the monkey who only wants to do well by Ted, but gets himself into nothing but trouble. As an animation buff and fans of Margret and H.A. Rey’s original books, “Curious George” is a fun, sweet, and adorable adaptation that pays full respect to the source material.