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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Machete is coming, and I don’t think you’re ready. This week Danny Trejo hacks and slashes his way to bloody satisfaction. For those of you unfamiliar with this project, it began life as a faux trailer that played between the two segments of the 2007 Rodriguez/Tarantino co-production Grindhouse. Much in the same way that Machete is a celebration of the revenge films from the 42nd Street era, I intend to celebrate some of my favorite classic, score-settling revenge cinema. I want to make sure I am adequately prepared for people who may or may not mess with the wrong Mexican.
Thriller (AKA They Call Her One Eye)
First up is a nasty little treat from the sleaziest country on the planet: Sweden? Christina Lindberg plays a girl kidnapped, drugged, and forced into prostitution. I typically am not a fan of the female rape/revenge films (I Spit on Your Grave is reprehensible in all ways), and I won’t lie, the first half is incredibly explicit and very hard to watch. But by the time you get to the slow-motion, beautifully photographed shotgun rampage, you’ll understand why this film makes almost every list of the best revenge films of the '70s. The scene in which she loses her eye features one of the most grisly, and unflinching, practical effects I’ve ever seen.
Major Charles Rane lost his wife and child during a robbery -- and his right arm. But when he replaces that arm with a razor-sharp hook, he becomes a savage wraith with nothing to lose. As much as William Devane owns in this film, and he truly does, the real reason to watch is his costar: a baby-faced little upstart named Tommy Lee Jones. Jones plays an army buddy of Devane’s who spends most of the movie silent -- that is, until Rane informs him he has found the men who murdered his family. At which point Jones stoically stands and nonchalantly states, “I’ll just get my gear.” You can guess what happens next.
One of my all-time favorite subgenres of exploitation has to be blaxploitation. If you are a fan of revenge films, blaxploitation should be your bread and butter. The spirit of the movement -- black heroes/heroines fighting back against the white establishment -- manifests itself in an entire catalogue of wronged protagonists bathing the streets in blood. My pick of the litter has to be Pam Grier in Coffy. The scene in which she shotguns the dope pushers who caused her sister’s overdose is a hallmark of Grier’s legendary badass status.
Another of my favorite exploitation subgenres is Ozploiation. Australia put out some of the most unabashedly awesome films from 1970 to 1989, and one of them was a low-budget preapocalyptic revenge thriller called Mad Max. Yes, I know Mel has since actually gone mad, but watching him systematically hunt down the marauders who murdered his family is sinfully entertaining. This film is so good that the writers of Saw constructed an entire franchise out of the final kill in Mad Max -- Max chaining a thug to a burning car and giving him a hacksaw to cut through his foot before the car explodes.
Charles Bronson made his mark on American cinema playing a regular Joe whose family is assaulted and who spends the rest of the film on a one-man crusade against crime. And of course by “crusade” I mean he blasts fools into next week with a gun the size of a trumpet. What is so great about Death Wish, apart from Jeff Goldblum making his film debut as one of the attackers, is that Bronson’s character is so tortured by his bloodlust that it keeps him sympathetic despite the fact he’s killing more than just those who wrong his family. Also, did I mention the gun the size of a trumpet?
When you take two cult heroes of mine, Robert Forster and Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson, and put them in the same film, you already have my attention. When you let the director of Maniac Cop helm a film about factory workers who moonlight as outlaws cleaning up what the court system lets slip through the cracks, you win my heart. It’s not enough that these guys fear no gangster, drug dealer or vicious criminal in the city and beat them all to a bloody pulp; they do their work in a tricked-out van a la the A-Team!
Top Story: Mel Gibson's Father Calls Holocaust "Fictional"
As if Mel Gibson needed any more controversy over his upcoming religious epic The Passion of the Christ, now his father is adding his two cents. In an interview with the radio program Speak Your Piece!, airing Monday on the small New York-based Talkline Communications Network, Hutton Gibson stated he thinks the Holocaust was mostly "fiction." According to The Associated Press, which published excerpts of the transcript released by the network, Hutton Gibson told host Steve Feuerstein, "It's all--maybe not all fiction--but most of it is," when asked about the Holocaust. "They claimed that there were 6.2 million (Jews) in Poland before the war and after the war there were 200,000, therefore he (Hitler) must have killed 6 million of them. They simply got up and left. They were all over the Bronx and Brooklyn and Sydney and Los Angeles," he added. Hutton Gibson also suggested Jews want to take over the world, adding, "It's all about control. They're after one world religion and one world government." When asked in media interviews whether he shares his father's views, Mel Gibson, who has said repeatedly in the media that he is not anti-Semitic, says only that he loves his father and will not speak against him. Alan Nierob, a spokesman for Mel Gibson, declined to comment.
Academy Keeps a Lid on Gift Bags
While award shows have always freely lavished celebrities who appear at their ceremonies with gifts, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is keeping the contents of its goody bags to Oscar presenters under wraps. "We do not talk about gift bags," an AMPAS spokeswoman told Reuters. No kidding! According to industry sources, the Academy sent an e-mail threatening to ax anyone involved with the bags if they leaked the contents before a Feb. 23 media ban. In recent years, gift bags have become somewhat of a phenomenon, often containing extravagant presents, including trips, jewelry, electronic gear and leather goods, a valued total of up to $25,000. Nice payday for simply reading out the winners' names.
Sizemore Ordered To Stay Away From Fleiss
Court Judge Antonio Barreto Jr. told actor Tom Sizemore Thursday to stay away from his ex-girlfriend, former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss, and ordered him to undergo counseling for domestic violence and anger management. Details on what prompted the warning were not disclosed, but according to the AP, Sizemore was ordered to return to court on March 30 for a hearing to determine if he violated his probation. The Black Hawk Down star was sentenced to six months in jail in October on misdemeanor charges of harassing, annoying and physically abusing Fleiss during the course of their two-year relationship. His jail term was postponed, however, so that the actor could complete a live-in program at a drug rehabilitation center.
Pam Anderson: Single and Loving It
Could Pamela Anderson finally have found happiness as a single woman? The former Baywatch star, fresh off high-profile romances with rockers Tommy Lee and Kid Rock, told the AP in a phone interview Thursday that being a full-time mom is her main focus. "Maybe I won't date again until my kids are 18. I'm very happy," Anderson said. "I only have room for my kids, so that's taking all of my time. I'm a full-time mom and I focus on that." The 36-year-old actress, who is currently doing voice-overs for Spike TV's animated series Stripperella and writing a column for Jane magazine, has two sons, Brandon, 7, and Dylan, 6, from her marriage to Lee.
O'Donnell Won't See Damages
In the contract dispute between Rosie O'Donnell and her ex-publisher Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing over the magazine Rosie, a judge ruled Thursday that neither side was entitled to damages and that each should pay their own legal fees, Reuters reports. "We respectfully disagree with this decision," a Gruner + Jahr spokesperson said, adding that the firm would explore its legal options. Publicist Cindi Berger told Reuters O'Donnell was pleased the judge ruled that the publisher had tried to wrestle editorial control from the comedian and was unconcerned about having to pay her hefty legal fees--believed to be about $8 million. G+J sued the former TV talk show host for breach of contract in 2002 when she walked away from the magazine. O'Donnell countersued for $125 million, saying the publisher had taken away her editorial control. The two-week trial ended in a stalemate last November with the judge claiming both suits were ill conceived.
Bill Moyers Says Adieu to PBS
Bill Moyers, who has had a 30 year career in TV journalism, is leaving his PBS magazine show Now after the November elections, the AP reports. Moyers is planning to write a long-proposed book about Lyndon Johnson, whom he served before and during Johnson's presidency. "It isn't because I feel old," Moyers, 69, told AP of his decision. "It's because I feel compelled to do something else now, that only I can do--which is that book."
Ozzy Doesn't Think He'll Perform Again
His rocking days may be over. Headbanger Ozzy Osbourne, who is still recovering from an all-terrain vehicle accident which left him in a coma for several days, says he may not be able to perform again, Reuters reports. "In my left shoulder I have a piece of metal approximately that long, that deep and screws in," Osbourne said in an interview with ABC's Primetime, to be broadcast on Thursday evening. "And I'm really frightened that I won't be able to perform again 'cause that's the love of my life."
Casino Faces Possible Fines for Star Treatment
A Jefferson City, Missouri, casino may have to pay a $50,000 fine for allowing hip-hop artist Nelly and his entourage to bet more than the regulated amount, AP reports. The commission alleges the casino violated some 10 state laws and rules while accommodating Nelly, who held a late-night birthday party last November in the casino and entered the establishment without first getting the required electronic identification cards that limit gamblers to purchasing no more than $500 worth of gambling chips or tokens every two hours, AP reports. Nelly will not have to pay any penalties.
Role Call: McG Reins in Pure Evel
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle director