One for the very young kiddies, Curious George is a perfunctory cartoon update of the 40s children's books by Margaret and H A Rey. For those who missed them, the story concerns an inquisitive monkey rescued from the jungle by a hapless adventurer, voiced by Will Ferrell. Once in the big city, George's curiosity lands him in all kinds of scrapes. But Ferrell's hero is never far behind to pick up the pieces and save the day.
There is a plot of sorts, involving a failing museum and Ferrell's attempts to secure a giant stone idol to bump up the visitor figures, and Drew Barrymore hovers on the sidelines as a sexy teacher, but mostly this is about the monkey. A simplistic, occasionally charming creation, George embodies the cooing spirit of an excitable toddler, forever entranced by the bright and shiny. His messy experiments with tins of paint and balloons will keep infants mewling happily, while their unfortunate parents sit back with eyes half closed, composing mental shopping lists and waiting for the lights to come back up.
The animation is simple but pleasing, rendered in primary colours with a classic Disney feel. The whole thing might be a bit more bearable were it not for the tooth-rotting sweetness of Jack Johnson's songs, which are all about learning by doing, and how important it is to have friends, and other such guff. Still, there's some fun to be had spotting old-timers Joan Plowright and Dick Van Dyke in supporting roles.