I was curious (heh) to see this direct-to-DVD sequel of the 2006 movie, even though I hadn’t watched the original, because of the names associated with it.
The celebrity voices in Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey include Tim Curry (a stage magician), Matt Lauer (what else? a newscaster), and Jerry Lewis (whom I didn’t recognize as the Stationmaster). Only Curry has significant presence; the others are more like cameos.
Plus, the promo material promised “music from legendary songwriter Brian Wilson”. That turned out to be him singing “California Sun”, which was disappointing, since I expected a bit more. Instead, much of the soundtrack is done by Carbon Leaf, a Celtic/bluegrass-influenced band from right here in Richmond, Virginia. That was a pleasant surprise. You may know them from their hit “Life Less Ordinary“, a version of which is included here.
The animation is bright, colorful, and friendly, with plenty of action and visual interest, including gags. The monkey’s feelings are simple and obvious, making him easy to relate to, especially for younger folk. The characters are fun to watch, especially the animal ones.
In this film, George wanders off with Kayla, a young elephant from the magician’s stage act (which means I got to hear Tim Curry call George a “cheeky monkey”). She wants to see her parents again, so George, Kayla, and Ted (the Man in the Yellow Hat) take a train cross-country, while her owner thinks she’s been kidnapped. As a secondary story, Ted’s distracted from paying attention to George because his priority is applying for a new position of more authority at the museum where he works. The message he learns is that loved ones are more important than any job, an important idea, but a strange one for a kids’ film.
Perhaps that particular element is aimed more at the parents watching with them. This is a great choice for a family movie night, although you may want to discuss some of it with children. For instance, George steals fruit from the train kitchen to feed himself and the elephant. Is that acceptable? Some of the actions require context to be made clear, and some — like jumping out of a plane without a parachute — are only sensible in a cartoon. I didn’t mind seeing the movie, although from an adult perspective, I don’t think I’ll be rewatching it.
Special features on the DVD include a game, a music video for “Hold On, Here We Go” made up of movie clips, computer-printable coloring pages, and two not-yet-aired episodes of the TV show, “A Monkey’s Duckling” and “George’s Super Subway Adventure”. They’ll be shown on TV in the fall. (The studio provided a review copy.)