I’ve still been super busy traveling these last couple weeks, so instead of slapping together an update to feed the ever-ravenous maw that I sometimes imagine this blog to be, I’ll post an older piece that has yet to see the light of day: my review of Curious George.
This was originally written for the Daily News Skim over at PointlessWasteOfTime. There, along with writing about news that never happened, we also sometimes wrote reviews for movies that we never saw. This was to be one of them.
As it turns out, literally minutes before this was to be published, news broke that the co-creator of Curious George had just been found murdered. After hearing this, the piece was quickly axed because it simply didn’t seem as funny any more. This was even after a hasty rewrite, and a title change from the original “I intend to murder one of the co-creators of Curious George.”
All that said, it is still kind of funny, especially once you forget about the whole brutal murder thing. I kind of regret bringing it up now. Bugger.
I am crapping my pants in anger as I write this. Based on its television and print ads, a reasonable person would expect the film Curious George to be a carefree animated adventure starring a mischievous monkey. So you can imagine my trouser-soiling outrage when I sat down in the theater and found myself watching a biopic based on the real life story of actor George Wendt.
Wendt is famous for being large, and for his walk on role during an episode of the hit series Frasier, where he portrayed a large man who knew Dr. Frasier Crane in some way. The ‘Curious’ in the title refers to the struggles Wendt has gone through first discovering, then coming to terms with his sexuality (he’s a powerfully unattractive heterosexual.)
“You know! I’m that guy! That guy from the show!”, he bellows at an unfortunate woman in an early scene as he battles his unattractiveness. Surprisingly, he actually refers to himself as “that guy from that show,” suggesting that he himself is not entirely clear about the details of his career. This might be caused by the other facet in the 2-facet gem that is George Wendt: his ether addiction.
The film switches into animation to better illustrate Wendt’s ether induced madness, with Wendt being portrayed as the high-spirited monkey seen in the promotional materials. As a drug-fueled primate, Wendt finds himself getting into and out of a series of whimsical adventures with his enigmatic companion The Man In The Yellow Hat. Together they have a fun time at the circus, get trapped inside a crate full of bananas, and assault a drifter on a lonely desert highway and leave him for dead.
Like most biopics, the film doesn’t really conclude satisfactorily. Wendt doesn’t find true love, or triumphantly conquer his ether addiction, or find the Nazi gold marked on a secret map he found (an early subplot quickly introduced then just as quickly forgotten). Whether this weak ending is the fault of the filmmakers, or of Wendt for not having ended his life in an adequately cinematic fashion is unknown.