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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We're just a few hours away from the announcement of the most prestigious awards ceremony in all of Hollywood when we learn the nominees for the 2013 Oscars ceremony. But we already know who won the most prestigious celebrity diving competition in all of Hollywood. (Just replace prestigious with televised, and celebrity with available.)
Antonio Sabato Jr. emerged the champion of Fox's two-hour event/tragic sideshow Stars in Danger: The High Dive because of his near flawless performance and dedication to his craft. In short, Antonio Sabato Jr. was essentially the Daniel Day-Lewis of Stars in Danger: The High Dive. The former soap opera star ended the evening with a final score of 53, narrowly edging out Baywatch actress Alexandra Paul with her score of 52.5. But, there were some other scores to take into consideration. Hollywood.com may not have been on the judges panel (even though we should have been) but that doesn't mean we weren't keeping score on our own. Here's some numbers that should have factored into the final tally: 2500: People who willingly showed up to watch this unfold right before their very eyes. 100: The percent chance Terrell Owens will wind up on Dancing with the Stars following this. 10: Unintentional hilarity of the dramatization of these "stars" actually being in real "danger". (That said, when someone who lost their arm to a shark says diving is scary, maybe it is a little dangerous.)10: The totally intentional hilarity of watching Real Housewives stars and The Shining sisters Kim Richards and Kyle Richards fall and flop off of high dives. 9.3: Unabashedly enjoying watching "Twitch" and Bethany Hamilton, especially their synchronized dive. Give them their own spin-off, Fox!9.1 Antonio Sabato Jr.'s abs9.0 Antonio Sabato Jr.'s unbearably intense intensity face. 7.3 The special legitimately showing what goes into the difficult sport of diving. 6.2: Filling the void of the Summer Olympics. 6.1: The sinking feeling that this was better than most of NBC's Olympics coverage. 3.7: Terrible diving puns from the robotic hosts, such as "Let's dive into this competition!"2.0: Number of people from Baywatch. (David Chokachi and runner-up Alexandra Paul). 1.2: Any resemblance of self-awareness, either from the competing stars or the show itself. 0: Stars who actually died from all that looming danger. -120: Minutes of your own life lost from watching this.-1000: Advertising that Jenni 'J-WOWW' Farley, the one person we were truly looking forward to watching, was actually competing in this. The Jersey Shore star sustained an injury and appeared on screen for roughly 15 minutes. Hmm, why does 15 minutes sound so familiar with this bunch?... Oscar who? This is truly the gold standard in entertainment! [Photo credit: Eric Liebowitz/FOX] More:
Getting On Board For 'Stars in Danger: The High Dive'
The Best and Worst Moments of the 2012 Olympics
The First-Ever (Fake) Annual Reality TV Emmy AwardsFrom Our Partners: Guess the Celebrity Bikini Body! (Celebuzz) 30 Hottest Lingerie Scenes from the Past 30 Years (Celebuzz)
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Universal’s animated Easter-themed Hop had a much better-than-expected $37.5 million debut last weekend and has become the first film this year to repeat at the top of the chart with a gross of $21.7 million. Russell Brand who also stars in this week’s Arthur, is the voice of E.B., the teenage wannabe rockstar son of the Easter Bunny. Brand is suddenly be the king of the box office as he manages an impressive one-two finish this weekend as Hop nears the $70 million mark.
Speaking of which, Russell Brand stars as Arthur in Warner Bros.’ remake of the Dudley Moore massive comedy hit (the film earned $95.5 million in 1981!) which co-starred Liza Minnelli and spawned the sequel Arthur: On The Rocks in 1988. As the drunken spoiled-brat rich kid Brand is the perfect modern choice to take over the title role. The presence of Helen Mirren elevates the proceedings and the modern spin on this tale combined with a solid marketing campaign gave Arthur $12.6 million more in his considerable piggy bank.
Check out our exclusive Russell Brand-themed comic strip from Francesco Marciuliano. Francesco writes the internationally-syndicated comic strip “Sally Forth” and the webcomic “Medium Large.” He was the head writer for the PBS series “SeeMore’s Playhouse,” for which one of his episodes won two 2007 Daytime Emmys. He currently writes for the Onion News Network.
Both the family audience and the comedy fans are covered this weekend so Hanna from Focus Features filled the action role with a take-no-prisoners action film that features a terrific cast including Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana and Saoirse Ronan in the title role of the 16-year-old assassin. Channeling the spirit of such female-based action films as 1991’s La Femme Nikita and 1994’s The Professional, Hanna effectively drew both men and women to the multi-plex and hit the target with $12.3 million.
In fourth place, Sony’s Soul Surfer tells the true story of teenaged champion surfer Bethany Hamilton’s (AnnaSophia Robb) incredible recovery from a terrifying shark attack that took her left arm. Starring Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid, the PG-rated film earned $11.1 million this weekend drawing both families and the faith-based audience looking for an uplifting experience at the movie theater.
Film District’s horror thriller Insidious had a small 27% second weekend drop which is much smaller than usual for a horror film and reflects strong critical and audience reaction to the film which has earned $27.1 million to date.
Debuting in sixth place is Universal’s Your Highness which presents brotherly rivalry in the days of knights and maidens and takes it to a new high. Starring Danny McBride and James Franco as unlikely brothers Thadeous and Fabious, the film follows the misadventures of the pair as they embark on a quest to rescue Fabious’s bride Isabel as played by Zooey Deshannel. Boasting plenty of tongue-in-cheek Oscar-cred with both Franco and Portman well represented at this year’s Academy Awards, Your Highness scored a gross of $9.5 million.
Notably opening on 206 screens this weekend in IMAX is the family-friendly documentary adventure Born to be Wild 3-D from Warner Bros. The film wrangled an opening weekend gross of $850,000 and a per-screen average of $4,126.
Also notable this weekend is the second release from Pantelion Films (a division of Lionsgate Films) titled No Eres Tu, Soy Yo which played in 226 theaters in the top 20 Latino markets
This is the seventh consecutive down weekend at the box office with year ago comparisons once again tough as Clash of the Titans in its second weekend and Date Night in its debut both earned over $25 million and How To Train Your Dragon remained strong with a $24.9 million 3rd weekend.
Weekend Box-Office Estimates
Top Movies - For Weekend of April 8, 2011
Movie Weekend Gross Total to Date
1 Hop (PG) $21.7M $68.1M
2 Arthur (PG-13) $12.6M $12.6M
3 Hanna (PG-13) $12.3M $12.3M
4 Soul Surfer (PG) $11.1M $11.1M
5 Insidious (PG-13) $9.7M $27.1M
6 Your Highness (R) $9.5M $9.5M
7 Source Code (PG-13) $9.0M $28.6M
8 Limitless (PG-13) $5.7M $64.4M
9 Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 (PG) $4.9M $45.5M
10 The Lincoln Lawyer (R) $4.6M $46.5M
Green Zone is a story we’ve already heard shot in a manner we’ve already seen and starring Matt Damon in a role he’s already played. Remember those WMDs that were never found in Iraq and later exposed to be the invention of a dubious and poorly-vetted informant? Remember the misguided and hideously botched attempt at establishing democracy after the fall of Saddam and the violent prolonged insurgency that ensued? If you’ve been away from the television for the past hour and somehow managed to forget any of these details Green Zone is here to remind you.
Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller an Army weapons inspector whose frustration over repeatedly coming up empty in his search for Iraqi WMDs leads him on a quest to track down and expose the people responsible for leading him (and us) down that infamously bogus path. Though his hand-to-hand skills are a notch below Jason Bourne’s Miller’s single-mindedness moral certainty and permanent expression of square-jawed defiance — always threatening another “How do you like them apples?” rebuke — in the face of an insidious multi-level government conspiracy are essentially equivalent to those of Damon’s Bourne trilogy soulmate.
And like Bourne his most dangerous adversary isn’t found on the battlefront but rather within the government he once served so proudly. As Miller delves ever deeper into the Case of the Faulty WMD Intelligence Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) the duplicitous arrogant Defense Department bureaucrat in charge of U.S. operations in Iraq summarily relieves him of his post. (Hint: the better dressed a Green Zone character is the more sinister his ambitions.) But Miller remains undeterred and he goes rogue to locate the CIA informant “Magellan ” a formerly high-ranking Iraqi official whose supposed confirmation of Saddam’s nuclear ambitions served as the basis for U.S. invasion.
We know how the story ends. Green Zone’s pervasive overarching sense of deja vu is accentuated by director — and veteran Bourne helmer — Paul Greengrass who employs the trademark hand-held super-shakycam style which was so fresh and inventive in 2004 but now feels stale and predictable. (Admittedly my aversion to Greengrass’ approach was no doubt heightened by a previous night’s viewing of Roman Polanski’s excellent The Ghost Writer a political thriller as subtle and precise and finely tuned as Green Zone is ham-fisted and haphazard — and which also uses the phantom WMD controversy to far greater narrative effect.)
Green Zone culminates in essentially a violent footrace between Miller and the Army Special Forces as they scour a heavily-armed insurgent stronghold to find Magellan with Miller hoping to secure his potentially damning testimony before the Army can silence him for good. The climactic sequence for all I could tell was either shot in Damon’s backyard culled from Bourne trilogy deleted scenes or assembled from scattered YouTube clips. This punishingly chaotic often incoherent and ultimately exhausting approach to storytelling isn’t cinema verite; it’s dementia pugilistica.
Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, AnnaSophia Robb and Carrie Underwood will star in the indie drama Soul Surfer, Variety reports.
The film, about teen surfing champ and shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton, is directed by Sean McNamara. The project marks country music star Underwood's big-screen debut.
Based on Hamilton's autobiography, the biopic centers on the surf icon (Robb) who defied all odds to compete and win professional championships after losing her arm in a shark attack at age 13. Quaid and Hunt play Hamilton's parents. Underwood is a church youth leader.
McNamara, Deborah Schwartz, Douglas Schwartz and Michael Berk wrote the screenplay.
The film began shooting this week in Hawaii.
Mandalay Vision is producing alongside Brookwell McNamara Entertainment and Life's a Beach Entertainment. Affirm Films, a Sony Pictures Entertainment company, will distribute.