HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle
HTS Overall Score:71
Pretty much anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the last 70+ years has heard of Curious George, or at least read the books to their kids at night. Written by H.A. and Margaret Rey back in 1941, the series of children’s books was about a curious little monkey named George. George was a decently good monkey, but his main flaw was that he was just so curious that he would get into every sort of trouble imaginable. Much like most young kids, he got in over his head, and with the help of the man with the yellow hat, he would learn some sort of life lesson along the way. Now decades and decades later, the series of kids’ books has spawned over 7 seasons of a successful kids TV show and a set of movies starring a slightly modified George. Now we’re back again with a third entry into the movies that puts George once more going back to space and then back again to his native home of Africa to help with a rain forest flooding problem.
George and Ted (The man with the yellow hat) are living happily at home like normal, with George causing more mischief, until Hal Houston (John Goodman) asks George to go up into space, retrieve a device on one of the satellites and bring it back to Earth so they can fix a flooding issue in the African rainforest with the device. Happy to help out, George and Ted (Jeff Bennett) agree to the mission and George’s space training gets underway. Soon enough he’s up in space and heading back down to Earth after a successful mission. However, this wouldn’t be a Curious George movie if something didn’t go wrong. A spill in the cockpit fries the controls and sends George’s shuttle hurtling toward Africa at a dangerous pace. George is able to eject in time, but he does so at the expense of the device they went to space to retrieve.
Worried sick about his monkey, Ted and Houston head out to Africa to track down the device and George. Unfortunately, Ted gets lost in the jungle and he and George are cut off from the rest of the world. Finding refuge with Dr. Kulinda (Angela Basset), an African animal conservationist, Ted tries desperately to gain communication with the outside world. Simultaneously, Hal Houston is doing his best, but another gigantic storm is approaching, which very well may flood the entire valley. Realizing that a brave move is all they have left, George and Ted must trek across the jungle and retrieve the electronic device and install it in the tower by their lonesome in order to save the valley.
I’ve always been rather surprised at the popularity that “Curious George” has gained in modern times. Based off of a 70+ year old series of children’s books, he has been adapted and slightly changed for modern audiences, and given years of television air time. The original books were all very much lesson oriented. The Rey’s wrote the books as inspirational lessons for their children, portraying George as a kind hearted, but VERY mischievous monkey who got into way too much trouble. The storybooks served as a warning/lesson for children to learn what NOT to do, and even though George is cute as a button, his nature caused him to REALLY get into trouble. I can literally see my younger self in George, as my parents know that they didn’t expect me to make it past 5 years old because I was constantly trying to learn how to “fly” by jumping off the roof onto a mattress below, or other such dangerous and stupid stunts. The TV series and subsequent movies modified George to be a bit less troublesome and a bit cuter. The harsh life lessons that George learned became more teamwork lessons, and George became more of a hero. It’s a logical jump, as teaching rather harsh life lessons could only go so far before you run out. Turning George into a hero allowed him to continue his adventures without becoming too repetitive.
The movie is cute and fluffy, with just the right amount of charm. Most young young children’s television is pretty insipid, to the point where if you’re not a 5 year old child, you’d rather stab yourself in the eyes and ears than watch it. “Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle” is aimed at kids, but is cute enough that parents can chuckle over their children’s shoulders. George himself is charmingly mischievous and never so bad that he acts as a poor role model for the kiddy winks. It’s a children’s cartoon first and foremost, and it never loses those roots, but parents will be more than comfortable with childlike humor and the cute animals interlaced with modern pop/rock songs to keep the young ones entertained.
Rated G for General Audiences
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=47962[/img]“Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle” is presented by Universal in the standard TV aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in the MPEG2 encoding method with very solid results. The animation level for this TV movie is simple, but precise. It doesn’t look sloppily animated like so many other TV shows, but rather looks almost hand drawn at times. There’s not a whole lot of animated detail, as the budget wouldn’t allow it, but the simple designs are precisely animated without any digital anomalies cropping up to mar the image. Colors are bright enough and seem well saturated. The lines themselves sometimes look a bit soft, and blur a bit, but other than that it’s a very nice looking encode. Black levels are strong and the disc looks compression artifact free.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=47970[/img]The 5.1 Dolby Digital track given to us on the disc is more than satisfactory to get the job done. The film is a mix of dialog heavy portions mixed up with very ambient moments where the songs come through with great authority. Vocals are clean and crisp, locked up there in that center channel and seem to be distortion free. The surrounds don’t get a whole lot of action during these moments, but there are plenty of African jungle sounds to bring them to life at times. They really get to shine when the “Plain White T’s” belt out there songs for the kids, and even the LFE channel comes to life at times. The sounds and noises are perfectly precise, and the songs blend in seamlessly with the vocals, letting me give this track a solid two thumbs up.
• Sing Along Songs
-Welcome to Paradise
I was very pleasantly surprised by “Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle” as I expected a much less adult friendly children’s cartoon. It’s not exactly Pixar/Disney level, but it never aims to be, but knows that if you don’t make a young kids cartoon at least palatable to adults, it may never get purchased as so many parents are sick and tired with moronic storylines and horrible animation that the kids miss out. The audio and video are more than good for the audience and there’s some cute sing along songs for the kids in the extras menu. Definitely recommended for the kids.
Starring: Angela Bassett, Jeff Bennett, John Goodman
Director: Phil Weinstein
Written By: Chuck Tately
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 81 Minutes
DVD Release Date: June 23rd, 2015
Buy Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle DVD on Amazon
Recommendation: Recommended for the Kids
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