Saturday, February 04, 2006

That's not Curious George!

Now we know why they obscure the monkey on the billboards.

“After 16 years, 42 writers or writing teams, nine animation studios, a bevy of directors and millions of dollars,” as the LA Times hypes in tomorrow's Calendar section, they can’t even draw the world-famous star of the movie Curious George!

Curious George has been a favorite of children and parents for 65 years now. And in Sunday’s Times, all involved in the new feature cartoon brag about all the time and money spent getting H.A. and Margaret Rey’s little monkey on the big screen; how they went from live action to CGI to Pixar style, but then back to basics with simple hand-drawn 2-D animation in a faithful adaptation by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer at Imagine.

Well, what do you know? This Curious George, opening Friday, might be cute, it might be a cross between Lilo and Mowgli, but it sure ain’t Curious George!

We can bet that’s only the beginning. The Curious George story has some nice dark elements that keep kids interested, like kidnapping, slavery, smoking, and false alarms. Forty-two script teams down the line, we can only imagine what they did with the story— because it’s Imagine, the team that bowlderized The Grinch, John Nash, James J. Braddock—even the historic words from Apollo 13—before turning Curious George into Opie.

Sunday’s puff piece in the Times admits as much: “Perhaps, unavoidably, after kicking around Hollywood for so long, this George has had a little work done—he now has eyeballs, for instance.” What an apologist! Keep an eye on Times writer Robert W. Welkos and see if he switches careers and sells a script to Universal in the next couple of years.

Put it this way, if they're gonna tamper with great art, they should have had some guts and gone all the way:

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