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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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.
Stuff magazine has compiled a tongue-in-cheek list of 2002's biggest losers and two Hollywood celebs have made the list. New Zealand actor Russell Crowe, who starred in last year's drama A Beautiful Mind, was ranked No. 2 with the recommendation that he should lighten up. Also on the list was The West Wing star Martin Sheen for apparently thinking he really is the president. The top honors went to Steven the Dell Guy, whose real name is Ben Curtis. "The Dell Guy was ubiquitous," Stuff editor in chief Greg Gutfeld told Reuters. "The only reason he's perceived as being successful was because he was ubiquitous." Also on the list: the FBI, for publicly identifying a suspected anthrax mailer who now plans to sue the agency for defamation, and airport security workers, with the citation, "they couldn't spot a real terrorist if they had 'Death to Infidels' tattooed on their foreheads."
Woody Harrelson, Joseph Fiennes and Audrey Tautou (Amelie) were among the celebs attending the opening of 46th annual London Film Festival, which runs until Nov. 21. Gwyneth Paltrow was on the guest list, but was a no-show, The Associated Press reports. The festival will showcase about 200 new films, including 8 Mile, The Quiet American and Dirty Pretty Thing.
Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now was voted the greatest film of the last quarter century by British film experts, Reuters reports. The poll was organized by the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine, which asked a panel of 50 film experts to consider 259 films made between 1978 and now.
A former Lucasfilm employee accused of stealing $450,000 worth of property from the company pleaded innocent Wednesday to four counts of unlawful access to a computer system and nine counts of theft, the AP reports. Shae O'Brien Foley is accused of taking thousands of items from Lucasfilm and providing an early version of the film to movie writer Harry Knowles, who posted the review on his Web site before the film opened in theaters.
Sharon Osbourne has inked a deal with Telepictures Prods. to mount a single-issue talk show set to debut in syndication for fall 2003, Variety reports. The format would be a welcome changed for Osbourne, who told Barbara Walters this week that if the family were to do it over again, they would not have done the MTV show.
Kim Delaney, who costars with David Caruso in the new CBS drama CSI: Miami, is leaving the series after 10 episodes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. According to a statement released Thursday by CBS, the show's producers felt Delaney's character of Megan Donner was becoming less integral to the series as the season progressed. Delaney was not a member of the show's original cast featured in the pilot.
AC/DC, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, The Police and The Clash have been named as 2003 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Reuters reports. The 18th annual induction ceremony will be held in New York on March 10. Former Police bassist and singer Sting said on his Web site, Sting.com: "I am very proud of the legacy of The Police. We were a a damn good band and it still holds up." The trio, which included Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland, broke up in 1985.
Magician David Blaine has a new book out called Mysterious Stranger: A Book of Magic, and if you read it, you could be $100,000 richer. According to Fox News, the book will be peppered with clues that will lead the reader to a 25-karat solid gold orb and Blaine's phone number. Dial it and Blaine will show up with a check for $100,000--and you get to keep the orb.