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: 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