Day 365 - 12/31/09 - Movie #365
BEFORE: No TRUE self-respecting New Yorker goes anywhere near Times Square on New Year's Eve, right? RIGHT? Heck, I don't even want to leave the house - same goes for Halloween, July 4 and Valentine's Day, they're just too dangerous. OK, Valentine's Day isn't dangerous, it's just when the restaurants are most crowded, but the other nights are hazardous and problematic, due to drunk drivers, violent pranks, and fireworks, respectively. Fortunately, I'm married to a wonderful woman who feels the same about these holidays. We went out for a fancy dinner LAST night, on New Year's Eve Eve.
This is it, the last movie of 2009. And even if this movie ended after the ball dropped at midnight, I'm counting it. (For all you know, I watched it in mid-afternoon...) I didn't work this hard just to have my tally come in at 364.
THE PLOT: The Man in the Yellow Hat looks after his pet monkey - an inquisitive and wonderful creature whose enthusiasm often gets the best of him.
AFTER: You know, I just picked this one because I've been watching animated animal films all week, and because of the word "Curious" in the title - if any word sums up my motivation for watching all these movies, it would be curiosity... But I really enjoyed this one, it was quite charming. It's a good, heartwarming way to end the year.
Will Ferrell voices The Man in the Yellow Hat, beloved icon of children's books, and here he's given a name, Ted, a backstory, and some motivation as well - he works for a museum that's having financial troubles, and he's sent on a quest to Africa to find a giant, lost monkey statue. Instead, he makes friends with a pint-size curious monkey (hmm, what to name him...) who follows him back to the U.S.
At first, this causes a lot of trouble - Ted's apartment doesn't allow pets, the museum is all ready to display his non-existent monkey statue, and the son of the museum owner is just waiting for him to fail, so he can close the museum and put up a parking lot. (ooh, la la la...) Now, don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone - and once Ted finally gets animal control to ship George back to the jungle, darn if everything doesn't remind him of their exhausting but exhilarating time together...so he sets out to get George back.
Now you know it's a fantasy film, when the NYC Animal Control shows up - we called them once, because we had a raccoon getting comfy on our back porch, and I was told that they couldn't do anything about raccoons, because they're "part of nature". Umm, aren't ALL animals part of nature? So which animals is it that your office, you know, actively controls?
Most of the reviews I've seen for this film, including those on the IMDB, herald the "traditional" animation style. I beg to differ - almost all of the backgrounds looked like CGI to me, but CGI done in a style meant to mimic hand-drawn animation. All of those great overhead shots of the city, plus all the buildings that George and Ted sail over while being carried by balloons - there's just no way that could be hand-drawn! The perspective was constantly changing, and it was just too accurate, so computers had to be involved. But using the CGI to create the look of a hand-drawn cartoon? I don't know how it was done, but it's just ingenious, creating something in-between the two techniques. Now that makes me curious...
Also, it's refreshing to see an animated animal that doesn't talk. It's a small point, but I think it's significant. We've all become accustomed to live-action animals with animated mouths, or just flat-out CG talking animals in "Madagascar" and "Shrek", that we tend to forget how much of a cheat it really is. Here's an animal that manages to entertain and (sort of) communicate with humans, and it's all done with his actions and expressions. It might be a little harder to tell such a story, but the payoff is that much greater, and they got there honestly.
Also starring the voices of Drew Barrymore (as the love interest), Dick Van Dyke, David Cross and Eugene Levy.
RATING: 7 out of 10 keychains
So that's it for 2009 - I brought her in right on schedule. Now I'm going to catch up on some sleep, re-organize my list, and make a decision about whether I want to put myself through another year of this...