Monday, January 23, 2006

Show Me the Monkey

otherwise entitled - "Is Nothing Sacred"
CD in play: Matthew Sweet, Altered Beast.

The slaughtering of my cherished childhood memories continues. I was out pounding the pavement today on East Hastings. While walking by the bus stop closest to Kootney Loop, I noticed a bright yellow avert on the side of a bus. It was for a movie and the tagline was "Show Me the Monkey!". There is a smiling digital monkey looking through a pair of binoculars. I was horrified and disheartened. Ladies and Gentlemen will you please observe a momment of silence, Curious George - the movie - has arrived.

Hollywood has done a good job at slaughtering books I loved as child and as a teenager. Cat in the Hat and The Grinch both did a diservice to the works of Dr. Seus. A Wizard of Earthsea was demolished in a version made for Sci-Fi in the US. I am embaressed to say that it was shot locally - yet another stool for the production toilet that is Vancouver. (there are exceptions like the new BSG and Da Vinci's Inquest/City Hall - but they are pearls to be carefully guarded from the hoardes of swine) While I enjoyed and was pleased to see faithful Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring was to the source, I was really put of by how Jackson bastardized The Two Towers. It was so bad it put me off seeing The Return of the King in the theatre.

The Two Towers experience really made me jaded. At one point I used think it would be great to see some of the books I loved as a kid set up on the big screen. No longer. I didn't even bother going to see The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and have no intentions of shelling out money to rent it. I have seen bits and pieces of the Disney cartoon version of The Black Cauldron from 1985. Perhaps I should have made the effort to see it as a 15 year old, maybe it would have turned me off the idea of adaptations altogether. Disney still holds the rights to Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, (which also includes The Book of Three, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer and The High King) but - mercifully - has no plans to turn any of them into films.

This brings me back to Curious George. (or Jorge El Curiouso as he is know in the Spanish versions) As a small child I loved that monkey, so did all my friends. The illustrations, the misadventures, it all has a special place inside me. At least they aren't giving C.G. the Garfield treatment, it is a wholly animated film and not some live action/CGI, cut and paste hack job. There was a real innocence to the books that Hollywood is incapable of conveying. Things are likely to be over-played for effect and little of the charm of the character is likely to be there. The horrific tagline "Show Me the Monkey" should say it all.

I would be interested in a film about the Reys, themselves. They were German Jews who fled to Brazil in order to escape Nazi Germany. They married and moved to Paris in 1935. They escaped France on two bicycles that Hans made, just prior to the Nazi taking control of Paris. They fled to Spain, Portugal, Brazil and finally settled down again in New York. Curious George was published in 1941.

The Reys were remarkable people and deserve some wider recognition. H.A Rey is an unsung hero of Astronomy, having simplified the way we see the constellations with his 1952 book The Stars: A New Way to See Them. (or the kids book Find the Constellations with the characters Castor and Pollux)


Blogger madstripey said...

show me the monkey could be interpreted many different ways
i'm gonna drop it in somewhere
thanks for visitin my dump

24 January, 2006 14:59  
Blogger Geosomin said...

Show me the monkey?
Man, that's awful.
I honestly don't see how you could make a movie out of curious George. A monkey who was curious and a man with a yellow hat - that's it. Great little stories for kids. I remember them fondly, even when they were read out with illustraions on PBS.
It's like making a Dick & Jane or a Mr. Mugs movie.
It's just plain stupid.

25 January, 2006 07:22  
Blogger Magnus said...

They did make a movie using the title "Fun with Dick and Jane", wouldn't see that one if you paid me either.

25 January, 2006 08:48  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

They actually made two movies with the title Fun with Dick and Jane, one in the 1970s and one in the 2000s.

As for Curious George, I saw a trailer for it last night and it seems to be a straightforward cartoon -- a hand-drawn cartoon, even, unlike all the CGI cartoons out there nowadays.

Of course, it's still produced by Ron Howard, who is responsible for those bastardized versions of The Cat in the Hat and especially How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

27 January, 2006 02:36  
Anonymous magnus said...

"Of course, it's still produced by Ron Howard, who is responsible for those bastardized versions of The Cat in the Hat and especially How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

GAH! One of the worst senarios possible has just been realised.

27 January, 2006 09:08  
Anonymous Gavin said...

Makes me worried about more Philip K. Dick adaptations.

27 January, 2006 16:26  
Anonymous magnus said...

I somehow doubt that Dick's material would appeal to such a crass "commercialist" and frankly sentimental director like Ron Howard. (Speilberg is another matter, see Minority Report) Richard Linklater is an interesting case. He does commercial and non-commercial films. I love some of his films, despise some and am non-plused others. Having just watched "Waking Life" I am interested to see what he will do with this - since he will be employing a similar animation process.

28 January, 2006 03:23  
Blogger Thoth Harris said...

Hey, talk about "blog more!" Your curious george comment has been up for a while. do check out my spew of recent posts. I am feeling inspired to put up pictures recently, particularly with my new Nikkon P-1 digital camera.

Plus my musings on considering converting to the Islam or my enthusiasm for my new girlfriend might just be a bit too enthusiastic and grating for many out there who aren't so lucky!

01 February, 2006 01:42  

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