*WARNING* This is TOTALLY my opinion–and a tainted one due to the fact that it effected my boy. It is also very long so you are under no obligation to read the entire thing. This is simply therapy for an angry Momma. Here goes. . .
Has anyone seen “Curious George” the movie??? Well, don’t. Atleast–don’t waste your time and money if you are a Curious George fan, ’cause I’m a little disappointed in Ron Howard this time. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN something was amok when they cast Will Ferrell and Drew Barrymore as lead voice rolls and plastered “Show Me the Monkey” on billboards. . .but I had faith–faith that you just could NOT screw up Curious George.
Thad got a Curious George for his 1st birthday “from Victoria.” I bought it at Kohl’s, put it in a bag, told her she was giving it to Thad, and he promptly took it out of the bag, dropped it on the floor, and Victoria picked it up and it became HERS for a few days. . .until one day she left Curious George in the hallway, and toddling one year old boy sees Curious George and cupid let loose the fickle arrow that determines which item a child will adore and Thad adored George. George was, and still is, the perfect size and shape for my boy to haul around. We have read Curious George (the original) as well as Curious George Goes to the. . .Chocolate Factory, Farm, Beach, Skiing, Bike Riding, Airport, Parade, Drive-In Movie Theater. . .you get the idea.
Now we do not limit the amount of time our kids watch t.v., but we are VERY particular about the t.v. that they watch as well as the movies they see. We don’t go to the movies very often, but as soon as they began advertising Curious George, it was a no-brainer–we had to go. We saw the bill boards, we discussed it, we planned it, and this past Friday as the last hurrah of spring break, we finally went to see it. In fact, it was SUCH a special occasion that we finally let Thad take George into an establishment so that (as Thad said), “George can see hisself.” George normally has to wait in the car, you see.
In short, the movie was not about George but was rather about the inept, selfish, frightened, clueless, phobia riddled “Ted” (which they named the Man with the Yellow Hat). Now I’m not here to discuss the moral fiber of the original Curious George–after all anyone tricking a monkey into captivity, then turning him loose on a ship, allowing him to fall overboard, giving him a pipe before bed, and leaving him unattended in one’s home thereby constituting an emergency with the fire department, imprisonment, and the resulting unlawful escape and eventual thievery of several balloons would be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law even though the balloons were eventually shared with several zoo animals. But it’s a children’s story–and George is, after all, a monkey, and things do, after all, always work out in the books. The Man with the Yellow Hat DOES always leave George somewhere alone with the strictest of instructions to NOT get into any trouble, but George, ever curious, always does. And The Man with the Yellow Hat ALWAYS comes back to get George.
In the movie, “Ted” does not trick George into coming with him–George follows him out of loneliness and because “Ted” played peek-a-boo with him and his yellow hat. (All very cute and tolerable–and a very good sound track to boot.) Once George is discovered by “Ted”however, things begin to go south. “Ted” is none too happy–“Ted” loses his apartment and ends up calling Animal Control to come and capture the monkey that has “teeth like Ginsu knives”. At one point they DID end up in the zoo with balloons (“Whew!” I’m thinking. “At least we are seeing a part of the original story line.” And so I point it out to Thad.), but when George floats away “Ted” runs through the zoo stealing balloons to go and rescue George. . .which would have been fine except for the part when a huge gust of wind blows George into the stratosphere and there is a close up of some very sharp, pointy, shiny, knife like protruberances from a sky scraper that pop all of George’s balloons and send him plummeting to the ground. (At this point Thad is literally sobbing, clutching his own George.) Of course Ted rescues George–although Thad is still in tears–and I keep saying , “See. . .The Man With the Yellow Hat saved George. He won’t let George get hurt.” AND NOT TEN MINUTES LATER, after George is wrongly accused of an accident he didn’t cause, Ted allows Animal Control to take George away–in fact as VERY vulnerable, loveable and cute in a toddler sort of way George CLINGS to Ted’s leg, Ted states to the animal control folk, “Take him away. . .it’s for the best.” At which point George is flung into a cage as Ted stands impotently by and allows it to happen. I’d have left at this point, but was pretty sure that they would save “Ted” in the end as well as George. . .and Thad needed to have that last impression even if it was too little too late. So we stayed so Thad could see the end–though he saw it through blurry eyes and occasionally saw nothing but my shoulder as he buried his face in it.
Needless to say, through his sobs on the way home, Thad said, “I don’t want to EVER, NEVER see dat movie again!!!!” Nor do I.
Maybe I put too much stock in a movie–maybe it was a movie that was about someone too near and dear to the heart of our family–especially our little boy and therefore could never have been as good as our expectations of it. But it is a sad day when you have to take a book that is quite simply about a curious, little monkey and make it about a phobia riddled, selfish man and how the monkey saves him from himself. I know this is 2006, and that the media feels they have to entertain parents when they entertain children–which is another topic altogether. So give us the voices of Will Ferrell and Drew Barrymore. . .play the snappy soundtrack. . .but leave the story alone. Curious George has managed to do quite nicely on his own for the last 50+ years without any embellishment. It’s a children’s book for heaven’s sakes. As John Stossell would say, “Give me a break. . .”