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DVD REVIEW: “Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle”

DVD REVIEW: "Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle"

The latest
direct-to-video adventure that continues the successful film series–based on
the popular picture book series–about a toddler-like monkey who gets into zany
mischief much to the chagrin of his “father”, Ted (The Man in The Yellow Hat)
is a colorful, jaunty romp. It hasn’t the scope of a theatrical feature, of
course, but doesn’t try to. It’s aimed at the audience that will be asking for
it in their local Target store: young children.

 

Aside from
subtle nods to Jurassic Park and Apocalypse Now, Curious George 3 keeps
everything very simple, except for the plot, which is immaterial: George—out of
the blue—is asked by a NASA-ish official (voice of John Goodman) to save
Central Africa from floods by retrieving a device from a space craft that will
make the flood stop.

It’s the
classic Hitchcock “MacGuffin”; nobody really cares about the details, we just
want to see George frolic blissfully and avoid anything truly dangerous, while
Ted chases after him, offering as much effective direction as Willy Wonka did
when he said, “Wait. Don’t. Stop,” to Augustus Gloop before he fell into the
chocolate river.

 

Along the
way, the duo encountered a Jane Goodall-like “Doctor African Scientist Worker
Lady” (her own description), voiced by the always wonderful Angela Bassett, and
an endless supply of gentle jungle hazards that are resolved quickly lest the
little ones worry too much.

 

The film
delivers what it promises; a pleasant, willowy vehicle for an enduring character
franchise. I watched it with a four-year-old Curious George fan who laughed at
every gag and gave it as much attention as a four-year-old can. The only lulls
for him were moments of exposition; for instance, when Goodman’s character
explains the mission (the one that’s just an excuse for George’s hijinks), the
filmmakers do their best to create an elaborate holographic presentation to
sustain some action and vivid demonstration, but George is off-screen, so it
cannot compete.

 

The score
(available for download but not on CD) is quite good, with light pop songs sung
off-screen by composer Nick Nolan and one (“Welcome to Paradise”) performed by
Plain White ‘T’s. Bonus features are near-nil, just some sing alongs. Bonus
features seem to be on the decline as more viewers go for downloaded movies
rather than hard copies. Alas, such is life for those of us who prefer the
tactile to the temporal.

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