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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It's award season time, and it isn't an awards season without those little indies that could getting in on the action. Today marked the announcement of the 2013 Independent Spirit Award nominees, and many of the buzzy films from the past year made it into the race.
Topping off the nominations with five apiece are Silver Linings Playbook and Moonrise Kingdom, both of whom garnered nods for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, among others for the actors. One actor making multiple cut-ins is Matthew McConaughey, whose work in Magic Mike and Killer Joe nabbed him nominations for Best Supporting Male and Best Male Lead, respectively.
It's not all smooth-sailing, though: the announcement of Silver Linings Playbook in the pool caused a bit of controversy, as the film's budget was reportedly over the $20 million cut-off point set by the governing body of the awards, but it seems as though the Weinsteins handled that little issue to keep it as a contender. This year's Spirit Awards are scheduled to air at 10PM on Saturday, February 23, 2013 on IFC—only one day before the Academy Awards. The full list of nominees is below.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Keep the Lights On
Silver Linings Playbook
Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom)
Julia Loktev (The Loneliest Planet)
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Ira Sachs (Keep the Lights On)
Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
BEST FIRST FEATURE
Fill the Void
Gimme the Loot
Safety Not Guaranteed
Sound of My Voice
Perks of Being a Wallflower
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
Breakfast With Curtis (Laura Colella)
Middle of Nowhere (Ava DuVernay)
Mosquita y Mari (Aurora Guerrero)
Starlet (Sean Baker)
The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry)
Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)
Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks)
Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths)
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias (Keep the Lights On)
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Rama Burshtein (Fill the Void)
Derek Connolly (Saftey Not Guaranteed)
Nicholas Jarecki (Arbitrage)
Rashida Jones & Will McCormack (Celeste and Jesse Forever)
Jonathan Lisecki (Gayby)
BEST FEMALE LEAD
Linda Cardellini (Return)
Emayatzy Corinealdi (Middle of Nowhere)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed)
BEST MALE LEAD
Jack Black (Bernie)
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
John Hawkes (The Sessions)
Thure Lindhardt (Keep the Lights On)
Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe)
Wendell Pierce (Four)
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Rosemarie DeWitt (Your Sister’s Sister)
Ann Dowd (Compliance)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Brit Marling (Sound of My Voice)
Lorraine Toussaint (Middle of Nowhere)
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike)
David Oyelowo (Middle of Nowhere)
Michael Pena (End of Watch)
Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths)
Bruce Willis (Moonrise Kingdom)
Beasts of the Southern Wild
End of Watch
Valley of Saints
The Central Park Five
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present
The Waiting Room
BEST FOREIGN FILM
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Rust and Bone
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
Alicia Van Couvering (Nobody Walks)
Mynette Louie (Stones in the Sun)
Derrick Tseng (Prince Avalanche)
SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
David Fenster (Pincus)
Adam Leon (Gimme the Loot)
Rebecca Thomas (Electrick Children)
TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel)
Only the Young (Jasonyyee Tippet and Elizabeth Mimms)
The Waiting Room (Peter Nicks)
What do you think of the nominees? Surprised by any? Disappointed by this missing? Let us know in the comments!
[Photo Credit: Joe Scarnici/WireImage]
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