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[jiggling his cell phone, which has no signal]
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Different Format, but Falls Short of the Quality of the Series
Guest stars Jerry Lewis, Matt Lauer, Tim Curry, Jamie Kennedy and Clint Howard share top billing above series regulars Frank Welker and Jeff Bennett (as other series regulars somehow do not appear) in this 2-D animated feature, drawing from the "Curious George" television series, which is based upon the original book series, by Margret and H.A. Rey.
For its 2-Dimentional effect, it's worth a look, but the production hardly measures up to the series in terms of content, enjoyability and educational value.
Rather, it borrows from what Disney animation has become with its larger-than-life imposing villains and helplessly-flawed heroes with much glitz and an irritating romantic entanglement.
Curious George (Frank Welker) suddenly becomes portly, as seen in side angles, while Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat (Jeff Bennett) remains somewhat constant except for the addition of his name, which, of course, remains absent during the course of the series.
Ivan the Doorman (Ed O'Ross) undergoes changes from the series, also with the addition to his name, along with an irresponsible and intimidating nature.
Mr. Bloomsberry (Fred Tatasciore) appears in the book series, as the operator of Bloomsberry Museum, which becomes Museum of Science for the program. As he prepares to retire his post, the Board of Directors must name a museum director, and Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat would be about the only one to qualify, or at least if he completes the presentation which he anxiously fears.
Maggie (Nickie Bryar) appears in the book series as a schoolteacher who frequents the museum in order to try to snag Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat, who remains somewhat clueless to her advances. Here, there's no mention of her teaching, but much in the way of her determination to win Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat. (The character is not to be confused with the lovely, refined and cultured Aunt Margaret, who rather adds to the quality of the series.)
Piccadilly the Magician (Tim Curry) presents a show, which Curious George pleads with Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat to see, in which he makes things appear and disappear, such as Kayla the Elephant (Jeff McNeal), whom Curious George seeks to befriend. When Piccadilly the Magician solicits Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat to join him on stage during the routine, Curious George also gets into the act and ends up falling through a trap door into the basement with Kayla the Elephant, whom Curious George decides ought to return to California Animal Park to be reunited with her brother and sister.
When Piccadilly the Magician discovers that Kayla the Elephant is missing, he contacts the hapless "Danno" Wolfe the Security Guard (Jamie Kennedy) to search high and low for her, with any help which Tina the Assistant (Catherine Taber) may bestow although she's one of the more likable characters here with her constant wisecracking (Not to be confused with Tina Quint).
Curious George sneaks Kayla the Elephant into the freight car of the California Express Railroad, which pulls from the depot as Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat manages to locate the duo, carrying his presentation research notebook closely. But they discover themselves locked into the compartment, and off they go across the country into the night, crossing through Saint Louis, Missouri, by daybreak.
Hark Hanson the Newscaster (Matt Lauer) announces regularly televised updates regarding the disappearance and feared kidnapping of Kayla the Elephant, as hordes of protesters demand justice on her behalf. (This character isn't a very flattering caricature of Matt Lauer, however.)
Humbleton Stationmaster (Jerry Lewis) encounters Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat at his depot in Colorado once Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat becomes ejected from the train, with Curious George and Kayla the Elephant still aboard, and figuring ways to obtain breakfast. (Yes, it's a rather fast-pacing railroad to dart across Missouri, Kansas and Colorado between daybreak and breakfast-time.)
Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat borrows Stationmaster's motorcycle to attempt to catch up with the California Express, as its only stop along its entire route to San Francisco would be in nearby Grand Junction, Colorado. But much more action lies in store for Kayla the Elephant, Curious George and Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat along the way, after Phone Operator (Melissa Greenspan) and Conductor (Carlos Alazraqui) get into the act of pursuing the three fugitives.
Once the California Express crosses the border into California, characters suddenly become cheerful, bright, sunny and hospitable, beginning with Farmer Dan (Clint Howard) and Daughter Anna (Trupti Potdukhe), who invite Kayla the Elephant, Curious George and Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat to stay over as long as necessary, and to do what they can to direct the three to safety, before they head north of San Francisco to California Animal Park, where Attendant (Phil LaMarr) gladly assists with the Elephant family reunion.
(This must have been produced by Californians who experienced inhospitable behavior in other states because Curious George and Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat are wanted fugitives from justice in at least 24 other states.) But "Danno" Wolfe the Security Guard is hot on their trail and will stop at nothing to nab Curious George and Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat, who maintains a glimmer of hope that the director's position at Bloomsberry Museum hasn't been filled yet by the inept Junior Bloomsberry.
How will Kayla the Elephant, Curious George and Ted the Man with the Yellow Hat be able to rescue themselves from the hot pursuit once they enter that cross-country cargo airplane containing only two parachutes?
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