When it comes to children’s book franchises, few are more enduring than Curious George. The inquisitive monkey, along with his yellow-hatted friend Ted, made his official debut in H.A. Rey’s 1941 book Curious George. The franchise hasn’t lost any steam since then; along with the books, George’s adventures have continued through animated TV series, animated shorts, the 2006 theatrical film, and a direct-to-video sequel.
Now, another installment is added to George’s exploits, and it’s a great one. I’m talking about Curious George 3: Back To The Jungle. The direct-to-video film is being released by Universal 1440 Entertainment on June 23, 2015 (that’s today!).
Now, we come to the question that all of you are probably asking: “Should I buy this DVD?” Sit back, friend, and I’ll tell you.
After a hectic kite chase in the park, George (Frank Welker) and Ted (Jeff Bennett) are approached by Mr. Houston (John Goodman), an official for a NASA-like space exploration institute. Houston offers George the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to space. George’s assignment is to take a piece of equipment off a defunct space satellite, go to a dam in Africa, and install the piece of equipment on an antenna on top of said dam. Once this piece of equipment is installed, the antenna will broadcast to other dams in the area, providing the vital link in the dam system’s operations. Houston tells George that, once the dams are functioning properly, they will regulate the flooding that’s devastated the surrounding jungle. Ted is initially reluctant to let George go on the mission but, after some begging from George, Ted agrees.
The first leg of the mission goes well; George retrieves the piece of equipment without trouble. However, during re-entry, George accidentally causes the space capsule systems to go haywire. George bails out of the capsule, which disappears into the African jungle with the piece of equipment still on board. Now, a whole host of problems open up: Houston and Ted must find George, they must find the piece of equipment, and they must install it on the antenna. Oh, and did I mention the huge storm bearing down on the area?
There’s one thing that the filmmakers behind the Curious George movies have always been good at: crafting exciting, suspenseful plots that are still kid-friendly and warm. This new movie is no exception. I was totally engaged in the plot from beginning to end. The film moves from one exciting locale (space) to another (African jungle) smoothly, and it does so by keeping the chain of events moving swiftly. The story takes lots of unexpected turns, which helps keep the film interesting.
The wonderful plot is even more remarkable since the movie doesn’t have a typical villain. Each character in the film is likable and honest, and each wants to do what’s best for the people and animals around them. I guess, if you had to put your finger on a villain, it would be the storm bearing down on the area. It does make an effective antagonist; if left unchecked, it could ravage the jungle. The storm gives all the characters in the film something to rally against.
This brings us to the look of the film. The animation is impeccable; each character is well designed and easy to look at. Personally, though, I was most impressed with the animators’ use of light and shadow. The film has a bright and airy look and, obviously, that look was achieved by the use of a lot of bright light. The film is also filled with realistic-looking shadows, but the film doesn’t look dark and grim as a result. This is definitely due to the animators’ careful attention.
Bright colors also help build the movie’s warm vibe. The backgrounds are filled with bright shades of green, red, blue, and yellow, which make the film feel open, airy, and easier to watch. The only time the movie gets dark is when the storm clouds roll in, but that’s only for a brief time and it actually works to push the plot forward. Things get darker just in time for the exciting final scenes to start, and the different look totally helped keep me interested in what happened.
The bonus features on the DVD… well, I’ll be honest. They’re a little sparse. They’re fun, though! The sole feature is a sing-along, which includes the four songs featured throughout the film. This might not sound like much but, trust me, you’ll want to sing along to these songs. Each one (particularly my personal favorite, “Ordinary Superman”) is catchy and fun to listen to. If you can listen to any of these songs without tapping your feet or snapping your fingers, you’re a stronger person than me!
So, with that, we come to the question we opened with: “Should I buy this DVD?” My answer is a resounding yes! Curious George 3: Back To The Jungle is a warm, uplifting, fun film. It’s definitely one you’ll want for your library!
What do you think? Will you buy Curious George 3?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes