For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Top Story: Roberts Readies for Motherhood
Julia Roberts, 36, and her husband of almost two years, Daniel Moder, 35, are finally going to be parents. According to The Associated Press, People magazine reported the Oscar-winning actress is due to give birth to twins early next year. US Weekly also reported Roberts, 36, has been pregnant for about nine weeks with twins, while Star magazine, citing unidentified sources, said the twins were a boy and a girl. Roberts' spokeswoman, Marcy Engelman told People that twins run in Roberts' family, with her great-grandmother and a pair of cousins born as twins.
Apprentice's Kwame Gets the Boot Again
After losing the big job, The Apprentice runner-up Kwame Jackson was asked to step down again--this time as a judge for Donald Trump's Miss Universe pageant, AP reports. Jackson was disqualified by pageant organizers for waving at beauty queens he bumped into in the lobby of their hotel. "Kwame is intelligent, charming and we were really looking forward to him judging on our panel," pageant president Paula Shugart said in a statement. "But his interaction with the delegates, albeit unintentional, is strictly prohibited." In his defense, the 29-year-old Harvard MBA said, "I was meeting up with some friends who had flown in to support me, when I was recognized by some of the delegates. As a natural human response, I extended my hand to greet them."
Moore Wants Mid-Summer Release for Fahrenheit
It's all about the fireworks. Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore is close to a deal to secure a mid-summer theatrical distribution for his Palme d'Or-winning documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, Variety reports. The deal was still unresolved on Monday, however, as potential distributors debated the wisdom of widely releasing a highly controversial film at the height of the blockbuster season. The final deal is likely to be a complex arrangement with multiple parties, including U.S., Canadian and home-video distribs. Variety reports sources close to the talks said Moore was eyeing a June 25 or July 2 theatrical release date, with a home-video release in October.
Flint, Mich.'s First Film Festival
Back in Michael Moore's hometown of Flint, Mich., they are preparing for their inaugural film festival, the Flint Film Festival, AP reports. "People who've never been to a film festival will quickly find out this is the real heart of filmmaking. All the great films were made by people who started out like this," festival chairman Greg Fiedler, executive director of the Greater Flint Arts Council, told The Flint Journal. It runs June 4-6 and features 29 original films--features, shorts, documentaries, music videos and student productions--by independent filmmakers from as far away as Germany.
New Polar Express Trailer on the Way
The new full-length trailer for the upcoming animated holiday film The Polar Express will debut online June 1, as a special feature of The Daily Prophet on the Harry Potter site, www.harrypotter.com., as well as in theaters June 4 with the release of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The Polar Express, based on the popular children's book, comes to the big screen courtesy of the Oscar-winning team of Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis and features the voices of Hanks, the late Michael Jeter, Chris Coppola and more.
Marvel and Sony Kiss and Make-Up
Comic-book publisher Marvel Enterprises Inc. has settled litigation with Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. over their Spider-Man Merchandising L.P. joint venture, which licenses merchandising rights for the Spider-Man movies. The bad blood between the comic book giant and the studio goes back to May 2003 when Marvel first sued Sony Pictures, claiming the studio was using its power to distance Spider-Man from Marvel in the minds of retailers. Sony Pictures then countersued, accusing Marvel of using the litigation to force renegotiation of its contract with Sony. Then, in January, Marvel sued Sony Pictures again, claiming the studio employed "Hollywood accounting" to deprive it of $6 million worth of merchandising royalties on Men in Black. The case was heard by a private judge, but details of the resolution, which include all cases, were not disclosed, Reuters reports.
Scott Wolf Marries Former Real World Cast Member
Party of Five star Scott Wolf married Kelley Limp, a former cast member of MTV's The Real World: New Orleans over the weekend. Wolf, 35, and Limp, 27, wed in a traditional wedding ceremony Saturday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Limp's hometown of Fayetteville, Ark., the AP reports. The couple, who met through a mutual friend in New York, said they plan to live in Santa Monica, Calif., after a honeymoon in Africa. Limp, who joined The Real World: New Orleans in the spring of 2000, now works in TV marketing in Los Angeles.
Letterman's Team Wins Indy 500
David Letterman got his adrenaline going this Memorial Day Weekend, but not just by hosting his long-running CBS series Late Show with David Letterman. The race car Letterman co-owns, driven by Buddy Rice, won the Indianapolis 500 Sunday, the AP reports. Letterman has been a silent partner to Bobby Rahal, the front man and lead partner on what had been known as Team Rahal, since 1996. But two weeks ago, Rahal, one of the best American road racers ever, outed Letterman as a contributor and announced he was renaming the team Rahal-Letterman Racing. Letterman, an Indiana native, has been a lifelong fan of open-wheel racing. Pop star Jessica Simpson sang the national anthem at the event, while Morgan Freeman drove the pace car in the race.
Role Call: Wayne Brady Lands First Starring Role in Running Scared
Talkshow host Wayne Brady has landed his first starring role in a feature, opposite Paul Walker in the action thriller Running Scared. According to Variety, the story revolves around a father (