Thursday, August 11, 2016

Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle

Year 8, Day 223 - 8/10/16 - Movie #2,418

BEFORE: Well, this is certainly a left turn off of the road that I was on.  I sort of panicked when I realized that my August films were starting to have a definite "autumn" feel to them, with 3 films partially set at colleges - that means I didn't take enough care when making my selections, I didn't think enough about the subject matter.  If I continued on that track, was I about to hit Christmas films in the middle of September?  Well, of course not, I wouldn't let that happen - but it did force me to think about the end of the year, and how I'm going to get there.  If I need to cram some more films into the line-up now, to make things work out properly in December, well, I'd rather know about that sooner than later. 

Plus, I wasn't crazy about the link to the next film ("Hot Pursuit") that led out of "Everybody's All-American".  The link was an actress who's not a household name, and that just doesn't fly with me.  Since I envisioned the chain, I got this "Curious George" sequel that ran on PBS during July 4 weekend, and it's got the voice of John Goodman, who carries over from "Everybody's All-American", so this sets me on a new path.  Yes, it means tearing apart the chain and re-imagining the August plan, which is less than 2 weeks old, but it had to be done.  

For starters, I want to catch the new "Star Trek" film this weekend, and I can get there from here in just about the right number of moves.  Now, I've only programmed the next week for sure, but in a week I can land on "X-Men: Apocalypse", and that's something of a nexus film - the cast is so large and it gives me so many options, I can go just about anywhere.  I can link up with the old chain very easily from there, and proceed (more or less) as planned. 

And when you add the films in that chain together with the October horror chain and then the 15-film end of the year chain, I'm only about 14 or 15 films short of filling up the final 82 slots.  No problem, with a plan for 285 films this year, what's another 15?  The best news is that I'm 99% sure that my chain will allow me to link to the 4 films I watched this year that were "off the books" - I wrote reviews but haven't posted them yet - and if I want to get out more this month and see more films in the theater (I admit I'm curious about both "Suicide Squad" and "Sausage Party") I think I've got a way to link to those, too.  Which is pretty amazing considering that my linking possibilities are getting more and more restricted whenever I cross a film off the watchlist.  

Still, I've got to block out the remainder of the year and fill that gap, just so I know that there won't be any mistakes, or any films left behind.  So what I have now is a series of little pods, chainlets of 4 to 8 movies, and I need to figure out the best ways to string them together.  And if they don't link directly, then I've got to explain why.  Sometimes it might be a thematic link when no actor link is available.  And that's how I'll fill up the rest of the year, if an actor chain ends, work in a documentary or two, or follow up with a movie with the same character, or is identical in some way to the film before it, that's what I've been reduced to.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey!" (Movie #1,024)

THE PLOT:  When Curious George is asked to take part in a very important space mission, a little monkeying around forces him to crash-land in Africa.

AFTER: Curious George and Ted ("The Man With The Yellow Hat") are back, and they get tracked down by some kind of (private?) space agency that wants to send a monkey into space.  Not for testing purposes (humans tried that, it didn't end well, at least not for the monkeys and dogs...) but because they can't get a human into space fast enough to fix the satellite that controls the dam that prevents flooding in this region of Africa.  Here I thought the biggest problem in Africa was the lack of water, not the overabundance of it, but hey, what do I really know?

It may seem strange, but as a man in his mid-to-late forties, I will watch an animated film for kids once in a while.  But I judge them by the same standards, in fact I may even be a bit tougher on them, because they not only need to make sense, but they should also have a positive message for the kids that I can get behind.  This film has that positive message - Curious George wants to help.  He volunteers for the space program - again, you'd think that a monkey wouldn't be able to understand a space mission or even the concept of outer space, but again, I know I'm not an expert.  

It also seems a little strange that the men in charge at the space agency have so much faith in this little primate - here's an idea, why not send a little person instead?  OK, maybe it would be a little demeaning to send a little person in a capsule that was designed for a monkey, but at least they would know that their astronaut understands the mission and they could communicate with him.  

Here's where I thought the movie was going to go - instead of the satellite controlling the flooding in Africa, I thought that the space agency men would be revealed as evil types who would hold the water away from the African people who needed it, and then Ted and George would need to find a way to shut them down.  I guess that would have been much too cynical for a kids' movie, huh?  But let's get to the NITPICK POINTS, because I think I sort of mentioned three of them already - (#1 - flooding vs. drought, #2, why not send a little person...) OK - 

NITPICK POINT #3 - who builds a dam that can ONLY be controlled by a satellite?  Is this even feasible, in that it demonstrates a terrible design flaw?  Why isn't there some kind of back-up so the dam can be operated manually on-site, just in case there's some problem communicating with the satellite, like, oh, I don't know, maybe a cloudy day?  Which would be likely if it were RAINING, which is when you'd need to control the flooding?  

NITPICK POINT #4 - this is the same problem that was inherent in "Curious George 2", which tasked Ted with finding an elephant in California.  He just went to a random spot in California and hey, there's the animal park!  California is kind of big, after all.  In this sequel, George gets lost in "central Africa" and while 5 search teams are combing an area with a 500-mile radius (umm, math tells me that's about 785,000 square miles) Ted goes up in a plane and within a hour or so, "Hey, look, that must be where George landed!"  I realize you have to move the story along, but come on!

NITPICK POINT #5 - the message of the film - helping others - is pretty solid.  After George lands in Africa, he helps out various jungle animals who are having problems, and later on, when he needs help, those animals are there for him.  But what about his desire to help the men with the satellite?  That sure backfired, because it stranded him in the jungle.  So I guess the takeaway there is "Never volunteer for things?"  It seems a little counter-productive to the message.  

This is probably fine for kids if they're not quite ready for the "Madagascar" series - it sort of has the same theme, with a domesticated animal returning to the jungle.  But with a little bit of the film "Gravity" thrown in, I guess.  But what happened to Ted's job at the museum, and also his girlfriend from the previous film?  There's no mention of those things in his life now - did he lose his job and also go through a break-up?  He seems to be able to go to Africa on a whim, just to search for his monkey. 

Also starring the voices of Angela Bassett (last seen in "London Has Fallen"), Jeff Bennett (last heard in "Batman: Year One"), Alexander Polinsky, Frank Welker (last heard in "Hudson Hawk" as the voice of Bunny the Dog)

RATING: 4 out of 10 packets of "celestial slime"

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