Show Me the Monkey
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)