February 16, 2006


 Curious George

I am always suspicious when a movie studio decides to adapt classic fiction, but in the case of Curious George, they’ve done a remarkable job. Curious George is one of those rare family-friendly movies that actually appeals to young kids and parents alike. Instead of trying to stuff the movie with hidden jokes which go over kids’ heads, the writers stuck to the classic stories. They did have to create a plot-line to sustain 97 minutes, but it’s in the spirit of H.A. Rey’s lovely and funny monkey tales. So what makes this film appealing is not shtick-it’s the movie’s heart.

As in the original books, the Man in the Yellow Hat starts out amused, then becomes frustrated with his precocious monkey. Much like a toddler, George gets into everything and makes trouble unintentionally. Ultimately, all this trouble teaches the Man in the Yellow Hat that everyday life is full of adventure and opportunities to learn-a great message for parents of preschoolers.

I found the sweet story and simple animation a welcome change from many popular kids' movies, often filled with fight scenes, alien invasions and heavy sarcasm. George doesn’t speak, but has no trouble communicating his feelings. Will Farrell does a great job making the Man in the Yellow Hat complex and believable. And the original songs by Jack Johnson are perfect for the movie.

My kids (5 and 3) laughed in all the right places, felt bad for George when he was locked up and had no trouble following the storyline. For us, this is a hit.

If your family enjoys the Curious George books, be sure to stay through the credits, when Rey’s original illustrations fill the screen. Alena Murguia

 "Romeo & Juliet"

Joffrey Ballet’s “Romeo and Juliet” is long, but worth it. After three acts, two intermissions, and a running time that I clocked at a little more than three hours, despite what the program says, I was surprised my kids were still awake, let alone enthusiastically applauding at the end of the Joffrey Ballet’s “Romeo and Juliet.” 

But my kids thoroughly enjoyed the performance, as did my wife and I. We all thought it was great.  However, this is not a show for every child.

“Romeo and Juliet” provides plenty of action. Sword play, grand dances, dramatic death scenes and romance are interwoven and stimulate the senses. From the every beginning, anticipation and excitement is built by the growing orchestra sounds of Sergei Prokofiev’s music. By the time the curtain rises to reveal the sets, costumes and lights, you are ready for a high caliber of dance-and the dancers do not disappoint, they are brilliant.

Our 9-year-old daughter was giddy from all of the silly, flirting dances between the main characters. When Romeo and Juliet finally kissed, she had to quickly cover her head with her coat. Our 12-year-old boy was literally on the edge of his seat for much of the program. (Although he did think it took way for Mercutio to die, after being stabbed through the belly with a sword. In fact, he called it “completely unrealistic” that Mercutio danced around in agony for about six minutes before collapsing.)

My son said that Joffrey failed to earn an “A” from him because they need better sword fighting scenes. Our daughter concurred.

If your children are impulsive, fidgety, fussy, impatient or feel comfortable expressing dissatisfaction at any time, then this is not the show for you. I get the feeling that there would be no tolerance of poor behavior. But if your children can be calm, patient and attentive, then I recommend this ballet for the whole family. Larry McIntyre

The show, which runs through Feb. 26, is at the Auditorium Theatre or Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Pkwy. Tickets range from $15 to $125 and performances are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Check the Web site for specifics, www.joffrey.com or call (312) 739-0120.

Kids Eat Chicago

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