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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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.
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Khloe Kardashian has jumped to the defence of her younger sister Kendall Jenner after she came under fire for posing for a sexy photo. The 18-year-old model shocked fans on Tuesday (19Nov13) after she shared a snap from a recent shoot in which she bares her breasts.
In the black and white portrait, Jenner's hair is soaking wet and she is wearing a tight, knitted sweater, exposing her nipples.
Along with the photo, she wrote, "Sneak peak of today's shoot with the amazing (photographer Russell James) ... can't wait for you guys to see the rest of the photos!"
The photo prompted a backlash against the the reality TV teen online, with critics slamming Jenner for showing too much at such a young age.
However, Jenner's half-sister Kardashian begged to differ and took to Twitter.com to sing the up-and-coming model's praises.
She wrote, "Gorgeous KendallJenner!!! High fashion! Model your booty off and show them how it's done!!! Major Model Moment!"
Kardashian added, "I love seeing all of these haters' comments. Naomi (Campbell), Kate (Moss), Cindy (Crawford), all fabulous models. Models and photographers take beautiful artistic images. And I don't hear you birds chirp then. Sit down and enjoy the view! Sorry Not Sorry."
George Clooney and his business partner Rande Gerber have opened the doors to their side-by-side Mexican retreats for a new Architectural Digest spread. The two pals live right next door to each other in Los Cabos on the Baja peninsula and Gerber, who is married to Cindy Crawford, tells the publication he and Clooney have been vacationing there for 20 years.
In fact, the two friends used to hang out at the beach long before their holiday homes we built.
He says, "We saw this oceanfront lot and thought maybe it would make sense to build something."
Crawford adds, "Once we had kids, we would go on vacation at Christmas, but you'd have to book hotels a year in advance, and then you'd get there and they never quite lived up to expectations."
The trio initially dreamed up the idea of building one big compound, but came to the conclusion it would be better to have their own pads.
Gerber explains, "It's just nice at the end of the night to have your own place to go back to."
The sprawling homes feature airy, outdoor dining areas, sparkling pools, terraces, a home theatre and beautiful bedrooms all with views of the ocean.
Clooney tells Architecture Digest he allowed his friend to lead the design of the two places because he trusts Gerber's taste, adding, "Rande has this amazing eye for houses and style."
Hollywood star Richard Gere has split from his actress wife Carey Lowell, according to a U.S. report. The Pretty Woman star has separated from his spouse of 11 years, former Bond girl and Law & Order regular Lowell, and is moving forward with plans for a divorce, reports New York Post gossip column Page Six.
A source tells the publication the stars, who have a 13-year-old son called Homer, have been "spending time apart for quite some time".
Gere, 64, was previously married to supermodel Cindy Crawford, while Lowell, 52, has been wed twice before.
A representative for the couple has yet to comment.
"Louis is not like any other kid. He looks you in the eye and he's a dude... and when Louis decided it was time to have some man-time with George and Rande, he said he'd let me know. I was like, 'Dear God, just do not bring Cindy Crawford around, because if you do I will lose my son'." Sandra Bullock begged Gravity co-star George Clooney and his best pal Rande Gerber not to invite Gerber's wife to the set when her women-loving son was hanging out with them.
Annie star Lilla Crawford is to make her feature film debut as Little Red Riding Hood in director Rob Marshall's retelling of stage hit Into The Woods. It was believed that British Internet sensation and TV regular Sophia Grace had landed the role, but now insiders insist child star Crawford will portray the wolf whistleblower in the movie musical.
Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt and Chris Pine are among the big names who have been cast in the ambitious project, which is scheduled for release next Christmas (14).
British pop star Harry Styles served up a treat for Cindy Crawford's kids over the weekend (07-08Sep13) by making pizzas with them after striking up an unlikely friendship. The One Direction hunk recently met the supermodel's son, Presley, through mutual pals and he stopped by his new friend's Southern California home on Sunday (08Sep13) to cheer the teen up as he recovered from surgery on his tonsils.
The 14 year old later posted a Twitter.com photo of Styles and his friends posing in the kitchen, alongside the caption, "Thanks for stopping by the house again and helping the boys and I make our pizzas @harrystyles."
Responding to the message, Styles, who worked in a bakery before shooting to fame, tweeted back, "Anytime brother. See you for surfing soon."
Crawford's 12-year-old daughter Kaia also took part in the food fun, and shared her own snaps with the What Makes You Beautiful singer on her Instagram.com page.
Styles, 19, was previously spotted at Crawford's home late last month (Aug13).
Model-turned-reality TV star Tyra Banks has undergone a series of drastic transformations to pose as 15 of the world's most famous supermodels including Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss and Claudia Schiffer. The America's Next Top Model host has donned a brunette wig and a well-placed facial mole to portray Cindy Crawford, and she is seen sporting a baseball cap and a sneer while posing as British newcomer Cara Delevingne.
She has also recreated the looks of Moss and Schiffer, as well as Linda Evangelista, Jerry Hall, Grace Jones, Twiggy and Brooke Shields.
The 15 project was launched in connection with New York Fashion Week this month (Sep13) and the pictures will be exhibited in New York City until November (13).
Banks has been posting some of the images on her Twitter.com feed, and has won the praise of Crawford, who branded the shots "fierce & amazing", adding, "Work it. Love it. Tyra 15."
The Strokes star Julian Casablancas has thanked fans for their support following the death of his father, modelling industry mogul John Casablancas. Casablancas, the co-founder of Elite Model Management, passed away in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil earlier this month (Jul13) after a battle with cancer and the singer took to his Twitter.com page on Saturday (27Jul13) to thanks devotees for their words of comfort.
He writes, "Thanks for all the kind words. It's been a tough two weeks."
The musician also shared a link to an emotional letter penned by his mother Jeanette Christiansen, who encouraged Casablancas to set up his modelling agency.
She writes, "A lot has been said and a lot has been written about John and about this business. Some of it true and a lot of it untrue. I backed Johnny 100 per cent when he wanted to change... the modeling (sic) industry. He stood up for women and fought for them to earn more so they could make fruitful careers... I am saying good-bye, dear John. I am so thankful for the years that we had together and for our son Julian."
The letter also states that Casablancas was laid to rest in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday (27Jul13) in accordance with his wishes.
Casablancas is credited with "inventing" the supermodel and helped launch the careers of numerous high-profile models including Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Heidi Klum and Claudia Schiffer.