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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Sin City beauty Dawson spent the day at three schools - New York University, St. John's University, and Lehman College - helping to prepare Big Apple residents for the upcoming election, while former That '70s Show star Valderrama joined the crusade and set up camp at Hofstra University to encourage students to turn out for the polls in November (12).
The actor also kicked off the day's celebrations during a morning rally in Times Square - in a post on Twitter.com, he wrote, "About to do a Press Conference in TimesSquare's SubwayStation in celebration of NationalVoterRegistrstionDay who's here?"
Ferrera, who recently relocated to the city, registered to vote and additionally offered to help sign up candidates at Columbia University, and now she is urging fans to follow her lead.
She tweeted, "Have 2 (to) re-register 2 vote cause I moved! Good thing it's National Voter Registration Day! Register with me".
Other celebrities helping out included actress Elizabeth Banks, and singers Mandy Moore, Dave Matthews and Marc Anthony.
May 18 will forever be commemorated as the day humankind battled the space invaders: Battleship came out Friday, hitting theaters with some I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Michael-Bay-style action/adventure. But aside from being historical as the adaptation of the piece of source material with the least amount of narrative ever, the film also pioneers the acting career of music sensation Rihanna.
Moving from music to film isn't always a seamless transition; it's difficult to say whether or not Rihanna will thrive with instant seat-fillers, or sputter with box office disappointments. Many of her peers have experienced both:
Madonna's greatest box office hit is probably an obvious one: the widely adored, oft quoted A League of Their Own, which earned $13.7 million in its opening weekend and $107.5 million overall. You probably don't recall Madonna's worst performer, however: Dangerous Game, which earned only $16,995 in its opening weekend and $140,037 overall.
Mariah Carey excelled with her most recent movie, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, which earned $1.8 million (opening) and $47.5 million overall. Her lowest grossing picture was her second most recent film, Tennessee, which earned $9,438 (opening) and $16,100 overall.
Beyoncé has experienced a bit more fortune than some of her peers, with even her lowest grosser earning none too shabby an intake. Beyonce's highest earning pic was Austin Powers in Goldmember, which earned $73 million (opening) and $213.1 million overall. Her lowest: Cadillac Records, which earned $3.4 million (opening) and $8.1 million overall. Not great, but definitely the best of the bunch.
Jennifer Lopez took in $18.7 million (opening) and $94 million overall with her romantic comedy Maid in Manhattan, and only $420,993 (opening) and $1 million with the thriller Blood and Wine.
Mandy Moore's animated film Tangled earned $48.7 million (opening) and $200.8 million overall; Moore's Love Wedding Marriage didn't quite take stride, however, earning only $1,378 (opening) and $1,926 overall.
Queen Latifah took in $41.6 million (opening) and $196.5 million overall for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 3D. On the other end of the spectrum, she also earned $2.2 million (overall) and $5.8 million overall for The Perfect Holiday.
Cher's classic romantic comedy Moonstruck earned only $127,599 in its opening weekend, but then reached $80.6 million overall. Her film Faithful took in $967,956 in its opening weekend, but maxed out at $2.1 million overall.
Justin Timberlake has the highest earner of the group: Shrek the Third, which took in $121.6 million (opening) and $322.7 million overall. Timberlake's Open Road, however, only took in $13,323 (opening) and $19,716 overall. Quite the range.
Country singer Tim McGraw was a big winner in The Blind Side, which earned $34.1 million (opening) and $255.9 million overall. McGraw's Dirty Girl earned $17,859 (opening) and $56,616 overall.
Ice Cube's recent comedy 21 Jump Street earned $36.3 million (opening) and $135.1 million overall. The rapper/actor's least impressive box office presentation was The Janky Promoters, which earned $6,200 (opening) and $9,069 overall.
Finally, Dave Matthews earned $34.2 million (opening) and $120 million for I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and $9,355 (opening) and $12,767 overall for Lake City.
With most of the big winners being in the comedy genre, can the world expect Rihanna's Battleship to falter? If so, will she find success in films in the future?
[Photo Credit: Daily Celeb/David Edwards]
Friday Night Lights Cast vs. Battleship Aliens
Rihanna Reveals Nearly 200 Topless Pics from Where Have You Been Shoot
Battleship the Movie: Which Films and Shows Deserve the Board Game Treatment?