As proverbs and maybe millions of years of evolution tell us, curiosity proves fatal only for meddlesome felines. Thankfully, certain incorrigible monkeys are free to mess around with impunity. Curious George has walked a rather remarkable road from sketch to screen; in a way, we have the Nazis to thank for the popular children's book series. Creators Margret and H.A. Rey, both German Jews, fled Paris in 1940 on bicycle with only their winter coats and a few picture books containing early scribblings of a naughty little banana connoisseur called Fifi ( le curieux?), renamed George upon arrival in New York. The film version is mercifully more concise than other paeans to primate high jinks currently chest-thumping in theaters. The cheekiest of monkeys, George beguiles zebras, elephants, and yellow-hatted men alike with spry, Keaton-esque athleticism and criminal cutesiness in his journey from Africa to American metropolis. Simian inquisitiveness becomes a metaphor for our primal need for companionship. And David Cross, already an expert in the jerk-witted grandiloquence of Tobias F monkeyshines as a ponytailed, sniveling heavy, seeking fatherly affirmation and a big payday for turning his dad's failing museum into a multilevel parking lot. Misanthropic toddlers will be rolling in the aisles.
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