This animated Curious George feature film comes from Ron Howards Imagine Entertainment and director Matthew OCallaghan, a former visual effects supervisor and Disney animator and writer. The film does change the essence of Curious George somewhat. In the original childrens books, the character of Ted was only ever known as The Man in the Yellow Hat and never named. Here the focus is more on Ted/The Man in the Yellow Hats problems retaining his job and even having a romance than on the character of George and his innocent mischief as was always the case in the books. The other human characters in the film have no equivalent in the books, for instance. The film does adapt some aspects of the stories closely most notably replicating the scenes where George and The Man in the Yellow Hat meet in the first book, although the filmmakers clean this up somewhat. The Curious George books have attracted some retrospective criticism of engendering European colonialist attitudes towards Africa, with the scene where The Man in the Yellow Hat originally abducts a compliant George being seen as one notable example. In the film, this is changed to have George merely following The Man in the Yellow Hat on board the ship and back to America.
Curious George is an amiable film, although really requires one to be of pre-school age to truly enjoy it. Indeed, one suddenly realises partway through that the goo-goo faces and noises that Ted keeps making to George are exactly the sort of play that one usually makes to pre-verbal infants. As long as one can see it as a film that requires nothing in the way of any mental faculties beyond that age, one can enjoy Curious George for exactly what it is. The monkey is an endearing little character and comes with a child-like innocence. That said, Curious George never consists of anything more than various slapstick set-pieces with the monkey causing mischief due to his curiosity.
The animation is a mixture of simple hand-drawn methods and modern CGI animation. There are some impressive 3D animated scenes tracking George across rooftops and through the streets of New York. The film is certainly not above making more of the odious plugs for brand name products that are starting to overtake modern childrens films, with George notably eating an entire hold full of Dole fruit.
There were several dvd-released sequels Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey (2009), Curious George Swings Into Spring (2013) and Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle (2015). A live-action version is planned by Andrew Adamson for some time in the 2020s.