Curious George is a 2006 American traditionally animated adventure family comedy film based on the book series by H.A. & Margret Rey. It stars Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, Dick Van Dyke, David Cross, Eugene Levy, Joan Plowright, & Frank Welker as the title character. Matthew O'Callaghan directed (after replacing Jun Falkenstein). It features new songs by Jack Johnson.
This project had been under development 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 & Mike Werb. Although it's a traditionally animated film, about 20% of it takes place in 3D environments that were computer-generated.
It was the 1st Universal Pictures theatrically released feature-length animated film since 1995's Balto, & Imagine Entertainment's 1st animated film. Due to the success of the film, the franchise was adapted to a TV series on PBS Kids, with Jeff Bennett replacing Will Ferrell as the voice of the Man with the Yellow Hat.
Your favorite little monkey, Curious George comes to life for the first time in an all-new animated movie featuring the voice talents of Will Ferrell and Drew Barrymore. Discover how George, an inquisitive little primate with an insatiable taste for adventure, first-time meets The Man with the Yellow Hat named Ted in Africa, and ends up following him to the city in Chicago. George's curiosity leads him and his new human friend into lots of trouble-and fun!
The world's most mischievous monkey is out of the jungle, out on the city and our for the adventure! Packed with fun, exciting and entertaining adventures, Curious George is sure to have you laughing over and over again.
The introduction of the movie is a cartoon short where we are introduced to a cute, happy, artistic, and mischievous but lonely little monkey (Frank Welker) somewhere in the jungle. In the city in Chicago, far away from Africa, Ted (Will Ferrell) is a 20 yr. old handsome employed guide at the Bloomsberry Museum. We're also introduced to his love interest, a school teacher; Ms. Maggie Dunlop (Drew Barrymore) and her students who came to the museum often, but only like regular visitors.
Then, Ted's boss; Mr. Bloomsberry (Dick Van Dyke) heartbreakingly informs him that the museum will have to close down, because they're no longer making any money. Mr. Bloomsberry's son, Junior (David Cross) wants to tear down the museum, and replace it with a parking garage to make money. Ted, refusing to lose the museum and agree with Junior, is suddenly convinced to volunteer himself to go to Africa in place of Mr. Bloomsberry and bring back a mystical, 40 foot tall idol known as "Lost Shrine of Zagawa" in the hopes that it will attract customers, much to Junior's jealously envy. Ted however is first-time outfitted with a hideous yellow "khaki" uniform (which causes people to laugh at him), and boards a cargo ship to Africa despite his embarrassment.
With the help of his tour guide and the tour group, Ted finds the "Lost Shrine of Zagawa", but only discovers it to be only 3 inches tall, much to his disappointment. Ted also encounters and meets the little primate on his expedition to Africa, and gives the monkey his yellow hat. The monkey, who quickly grows fond so much of Ted and his yellow suit, follows him and boards the cargo ship, unknown to Ted. Ted returns back home to Chicago, riding a taxi and enters his apartment room, 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 happily follows Ted to the same apartment building, the monkey's discovered busily repainting a posh apartment in full scale African animals and due to the strict "no pets allowed policy", Ted is then evicted by a grumpy doorman; Ivan (Ed O'Ross) after the monkey gets into trouble in Mrs. Plushbottom's (Joan Plowright) apartment with colorful paints on the wall and dying the bathwater with them.
Ted, bringing the monkey along, returns to the museum and, admitting to tell the truth, reveals to Mr. Bloomsberry the idol's actual size. Ted is then been kicked out of the museum by Junior, after the monkey accidentally destroys an Apatosaurus skeleton (trying to get Ted's attention). After making a quick phone call to the Animal Control, Ted and the monkey both sleep outside in the park under a large oak tree, became satisfied with the stars, admiring the fireflies and making their tongues bright glowing green as a result after disgustingly eating them. The next morning, Ted, after waking up, follows the monkey into the zoo, where his girlfriend; Maggie and her students name the monkey "George".
George then gets into trouble and begins dangerously floating away on balloons high up over the city, as Ted bravely takes flight as well. George's balloons are all suddenly popped by the spikes on a building and Ted quickly saves him from his certain death just in time. Ted and George, after an amazing fright ride through the city, both 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 and himself appear 40 ft tall.
Ted and George then both headed to the museum to show Mr. Bloomsberry the invention. Junior tries to convince his father that it wouldn't be honest to fool the public, but Mr. Bloomsberry sees it as the only way to save the museum. Determined to get his parking garage, Junior foils Ted's plan by pouring hot latte on the machine and framing on George. Believing his life to be ruined, Ted, feeling too late to be cheer up, angrily allows the animal controllers to take George away back home to Africa. Afterwards, Ted, feeling guilty about his actions at George, speaks with Maggie who helps him "see" what's 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, after apologizing for his actions, tells George that nothing else matters besides their first "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's 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, 40 feet tall.
The idol's 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' inventions, the interaction with Ms. Dunlop, her young students and, of course, George. Junior managed to get his parking garage, but is upset that Ted is still manage to work at the museum. Ivan invites Ted to move back to his apartment because he now likes George, and Ted and Maggie almost start a first romance, but George then causes more trouble by starting up a rocket ship, forcing Ted, himself, to follow him to the rocket and into outer space.
- Frank Welker as George, a curious little primate who is compassionate and clever, with a proficiency in visual art.
- Will Ferrell as Theodore "Ted" Shackleford (aka The Man in the Yellow Hat), George's new human friend who is clumsy, but resilient and compassionate. In a deleted scene, his last name is established as "Shackleford".
- Drew Barrymore as Margaret "Maggie" Dunlop, a school teacher and Ted's love interest/ girlfriend.
- David Cross as Junior Bloomsberry, the son and the only child of the museum's owner also Ted and George's enemy.
- Eugene Levy as Clovis, a museum employee/ inventor who builds his robotic animals to help him with his work.
- Joan Plowright as Ms. Plushbottom, Ted's neighbor and also an opera singer.
- Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Bloomsberry, the kind, elderly owner of the museum, also Junior's father and Ted's boss.
- Ed O'Ross as Ivan, the doorman at Ted's apartment building.
- Michael Chinyamurindi as Edu, Ted's African guide.
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 & 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 & 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 & $11.5 million overseas, totaling $69.8 million worldwide
The film received generally positive reviews and earned a 69% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert praised the design of the film & its faithfulness to the "spirit & 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 & 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, & 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 & digital effects" compliments the original watercolor illustrations, & thought the film entertaining & yet still quite simple. He considered the difficulties in adapting the original stories (in which George basically causes trouble & the Man in the Yellow Hat fixes it all up) into a film, & how some conflict & a slight romantic subplot were added.
Sing-A-Longs & Lullabies for the Film Curious George is the soundtrack to the film, featuring songs by Jack Johnson & Sally Williams. In its 1st week on Billboard 200 albums chart, the soundtrack made it to #1, making it Jack Johnson's 1st #1 album (In Between Dreams peaked at 2, On & On peaked at 3) & making it the 1st soundtrack to reach #1 since the Bad Boys II soundtrack in August 2003 & the 1st soundtrack to an animated film to top the Billboard 200 since Pocahontas reigned for 1 week in July 1995.
Home media history
- September 26, 2006 (DVD)
- March 20, 2007 (DVD - 2-pack with The Land Before Time)
- November 20, 2007 (DVD - 2-movie collection with Babe: Pig in the City) (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 & scan DVD copy only.)
- March 3, 2015 (Blu-ray)
A sneak peek for the new 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 circus elephant named Kayla. George tries to help Kayla travel across the country to be reunited with her family in California.
A prequel, Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle was also released on June 23, 2015.
- This is Universal's first animated theatrical film to be produced by Universal Animation Studios.