When I was a little ragamuffin myself, I can remember delighting over all of the books in the Curious George series. That little monkey – along with the man in the yellow hat – went on many adventures, all of them spurred forward by the chimp’s insatiable curiosity, and readers were shown the world through the eyes of the most innocent of creatures. Now that I’m older I’ve certainly moved on to different tastes and interests, but I’ll never forget those wonderful books with the bold, bright colors taking me to places I’d only dreamed about and maybe – just maybe – teaching me a few useful lessons along the way.
To their credit, Universal Studios along with Imagine Entertainment are doing their part to keep the saga of Curious George alive, and, to that end, the monkey stars in an all-new animated movie, CURIOUS GEORGE SWINGS INTO SPRING.
(NOTE: The following review may contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
I’m not a parent (except for several cats and dogs I’ve taken in), but I would imagine what really matters in the review of this kind of product is (A) what are the lessons learned, (B) how effective did I find the product, and (C) what is its replay value. I certainly hope answering those items will provide a service to anyone stumbling across my humble review, so I’ll try to be as efficient as I can around them.
CURIOUS GEORGE SWINGS INTO SPRING is essentially George’s story about discovering the joys of a new spring along with his owner – the aforementioned man and his hat – along with his lovable best friend, Hundley, a dachshund, who’s none-too-enamored with the whole thing that is ‘spring fever.’ See, Hundley has a job – he stands guard beside the Door Man to George’s apartment building in the big city – and spring means a whole lot of things that make his job difficult, such as rain, dirt, flowers, and the like. However, George decides he’s going to make it his mission in life – or, at least, for the next 57 minutes of the film – to change Hundley’s frown into a smile by introducing him to the joy of things coming alive in this season of change.
To that end, SPRING is chocked full of wonderfully accessible little lessons. Each of these are presented by way of a short vignette – some misadventure on George’s part and the people, places, and things he encounters. Such principles as being polite to others, having respect for others’ things, how cooperation can make a task much easier (and even fun), and planning to accomplish even the simplest goals are but a few of those explored in the story. Every message is directly related to something George has either done or will be doing, so viewers – especially young ones – should be captivated by learning while being entertained.
Second, even this old dog (who probably can’t be taught any new tricks) found SPRING a delight. The animation is bright and colorful; the characterizations are fun and relatable; and the story never quite settles down into a rut – rather, these 57 minutes breeze by as George and his friends skip from one modest little bit to the next. One of my chief grievances with some two-hour movies, in fact, is that there’s only enough meat to the story to honestly complement a 60-minute film; but each little adventure – all part of the total story – lasts anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes, so I’d imagine about the time any young one might be wishing for more action, there’s a little twist waiting around the corner. Also, there are three (or maybe four) wonderful little toe-tapping tunes that underscore the action as well as the moral-to-the-story, and they’re quite good. (I even went searching after watching to see if “All Brand New” was available on iTunes; sadly, it isn’t!)
Lastly, I’d have to say that SPRING has definitely replay potential. I’d imagine it’d be the kind of flick – as I’ve stated, it’s an easy, breezy 60 minutes – that families could have in their library at home. I’d even suggest it as one to play in the car for kids on trips. It moves with great ease, and I’d imagine most parents would find it of tremendous value.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. As I said, I’m not a parent, but, if I were, CURIOUS GEORGE SWINGS INTO SPRING is the kind of harmless flick I’d have in my library. It’s filled with quality animation, imaginative characters, and lessons that have meaning to today’s families … plus, it’s all capped off with a modestly madcap ending that shows even Curious George can be an action hero when he needs to be!
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Universal Studios provided me with an advance DVD screener of CURIOUS GEORGE SWINGS INTO SPRING by request for the expressed purpose of completing this review.
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