Curious George

on February 10, 2006 by Kim Williamson
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Uh-oh: A beloved children's book being brought to the silver screen via Imagine Entertainment and producer Ron Howard. Shades of "The Cat in the Hat"? Fortunately, the shades here are all sherbets and pastels, as "Curious George" unfolds as perhaps the year's gentlest-told tale. Expanded beyond the telling of the original book by Margret and H.A. Rey from the '40s, curiously, this "George" is less impish ape than needy foundling in a story about the man with the yellow hat, now given the name of Ted (Will Ferrell), who strives to save a foundering museum by bringing back a towering statue.

What he finds on arrival in a very green and sunny take on the Deepest Darkest, though, is tiny; what he finds on rearrival in America is a chimpish stowaway (Frank Welker gives George his ooos and coos). How will the museum, run by the venerable Bloomsberry (Dick Van Dyke), now be saved? How will Ted adjust to life with a little monkey? How will Ted and local schoolteacher Maggie (Drew Barrymore) find romance? And, lastly, how will parents sit through this age 2-7 fare?

Even with the last, all works out in the end. The difference-maker here might be producer David Kirschner, whose previous animation efforts ("The Pagemaster," "Cats Don't Dance") all feature a certain intelligence and a humane warmth. In support, Ferrell, Barrymore and Van Dyke give fine voice to their good- hearted characters. The end result, however comparatively thin in theme and execution, is a sort of tot treat...and thus exactly what those parents are looking for. Voices by Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, Dick Van Dyke and Frank Welker. Directed by Matthew O'Callaghan. Written by Ken Kaufman. Produced by Ron Howard, David Kirschner and Jon Shapiro. A Universal release. Animated. Rated G. Running time: 86 min

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