For reasons lost in the haze of alcohol, i recently purchased the children’s movie Curious George from a very smiley man i met in my local fried chicken shop. It was a dreadful pirate copy of an averagely bad film but an unexpected bonus saved the day.
We watched it last night and it was very disappointing in manifold ways. Firstly, the film itself is rubbish, it is a children’s film, impure and simplistic. Clearly written by someone who has never met a single child in his life and it wasn’t tyring to appeal to adults either. None of the clever scripting and story-telling of the Pixar animations or the drama of the big Disney features. Was a very lumbering story of an uncharismatic dork and an annoying monkey. The monkey’s curiosity was supposed to teach the dry museum curating dweeb about enjoying life through all the wacky misadventures he gets him into. But neither the monkey nor the storytelling seemed to know the meaning of curiosity, getting it confused with hyperactivity. There was even a dodgy political message that it’s okay for america to steal african natural resources!
Then it was a very bad pirate copy, the picture was fuzzy, all the colours were washed out and overly blue and the sound was muffled and distant. Evidence that it had been illegally filmed from some cinema screen somewhere.. which turned out to be it’s redeeming feature.. because in the process the pirate had recorded the background sounds of the cinema. We didn’t really notice for the first 3/4 of the film because there wasn’t much to make the audience laugh.
But then in the dramatic moment when the cute little monkey is being caught by evil animal control people and put in a metal cage to be shipped back to Africa, i realised that the faint crying of a small child that i could hear was coming from the tv. Some little nipper in the cinema was very, very upset by the scary turn the tale had taken and was bawling it’s heart out. Naturally, we laughed our heads off at this.. not in a cruel way you understand but in realisation of the extra dimension this added to the film.. it added some drama and humanity that was otherwise lacking.. and from the that point forward in the film where the story turned the corner and the happy ending started to gradually unfold we listened more carefully to hear the crying slow down and eventually peter out. and then we caught the occassional few words of approving toddler commentary.. “He’s in the car.”, “There!” so we knew the tears had been forgotten and it was a happy ending all round.
From now on, I want to watch all animated films with infant audience commentary.