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 host of famous faces took to Twitter.com on Tuesday (11Sep12) to mark the 11th anniversary of the atrocity, in which al-Qaeda terrorists killed almost 3,000 people in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
U.S. President Barack Obama held a one-minute silence on the White House Lawn with wife Michelle by his side as victims' families gathered at Ground Zero in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania to honour the dead.
Actress Mia Farrow wrote, "On another clear blue morning, thoughts with the families & friends of those killed on 9/11" while singer Michelle Williams simply tweeted, "Will never forget! Praying for families today! SEPTEMBER11".
Actress Octavia Spencer delivered a poignant message to her Twitter followers, "I say vics (victims) of 9/11 are heroes b/c (because) they were ordinary ppl (people) just trying to live. Their sacrifice will always be sadly heroic. NeverAgain!!!".
Actor David Boreanaz writes, "Honor and pray for those who lost their lives today eleven years ago. Remember all the victims of 9/11. Neverforget".
Country star Chely Wright added, "Never forget 9-11" and shared a photo of a firefighter standing in the rubble at the World Trade Center site, along with the caption, "Nearly 3,000 people said good night to their families one last time 11 years ago tonight. We remember the day that united America."
Singer Moore ?sent inspirational words to her followers: "Thoughts, prayers, love and light to those who lost ones 11 years ago today. neverforget".
Kelly Osbourne's tweet also carried a more personal tone: "I personally went down there 2 (to) help clean up! It was a lot of work & our heroes deserve the respect!".
But the reality TV star also offered a more heartfelt message, adding, "My thoughts & prays are with all the family's (sic) that lost loved ones on 911! It might have been 11 years but we never forget our loved ones!"
It was 1999, and David O. Russell was new to the industry — he had only directed two films to date, fostering stars like Jeremy Davies (Spanking the Monkey) and Ben Stiller(Flirting with Disaster). And then came Three Kings. The filmmaker's first straight drama, his first pickup by a Big Five production company, is also his first collaboration with Mark Wahlberg: his muse in the making.
Following Three Kings, Russell and Wahlberg partnered on the offbeat comedy I Heart Huckabees and the Oscar-nominated drama biopic The Fighter. And for a while, it was expected that Wahlberg would take the lead in Russell's upcoming romance/dramedy, Silver Linings Playbook. But top-billing in that picture ultimately landed in the hands of Bradley Cooper, whom Russell has cast in his next movie, an untitled project formerly named American Bulls***. On top of this, Russell discussed with The Hollywood Reporter on a desire to work with Cooper on a third film: American Sniper — a property to which Cooper presently has the rights.
So, the days of Russell/Wahlberg might be over. But will Russell's partnership with Cooper really be able to reproduce, or perhaps top, the magic he and his first muse managed in Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, and the critical/popular topper of the lot, The Fighter?
It's not like it hasn't been done — there have been plenty of directors who have moved from one acting muse to another, for whatever reason, resulting in some fantastic work:
Original Muse: Robert De Niro
Collaborations: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, New York, New York, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, Mad Dog and Glory, Casino
Replacement Muse: Leonardo DiCaprio
Collaborations: Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, The Wolf of Wall Street
Original Muse: Matt Damon
Collaborations: Oceans Eleven, Ocean's Twelve, The Brothers Grimm, Syriana, Ocean's Thirteen, Che, The Informant!, Contagion
Replacement Muse: Channing Tatum
Collaborations: Haywire, Magic Mike, The Bitter Pill
Original Muse: Tarantino has collaborated with several people on multiple occasions — Samuel L. Jackson, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth — but the director's true original muse is undoubtedly Uma Thurman
Collaborations: Pulp Fiction, the Kill Bill movies
Replacement Muse: Christoph Waltz
Collaborations: Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained
Original Muse: Diane Keaton
Collaborations: Play It Again, Sam, Sleeper, Love and Death, Annie Hall, Interiors, Manhattan, Radio Days, Manhattan Murder Mystery
Replacement Muses: Diane Wiest, Mia Farrow, Daryl Hannah, Judy Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz...
Collaborations: Every remaining movie he has ever made
So is it possible? Heck yes. Clearly, Russell has found something in Cooper that inspires him. That's all it takes for two talented people to make magic. I Heart Huckabees-level magic, though? Hard to say...
[Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company]
TIFF 2012: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence Give Career Bests in 'Silver Linings Playbook'
Amy Adams in 'American Bulls**t': How Many ‘Fighter’ People Will This Film Involve?
Bradley Cooper Can't Get Enough of Oscar Winner Russell, Re-teams for 'American Bulls**t'
The remake of Total Recall never escapes the shadow of its Arnold Schwarzenegger-led predecessor — and strangely it feels like a choice. With a script that's nearly beat-for-beat the original film Total Recall plods along with enhanced special effects that bring to life an expansive sci-fi world and action scenes constructed to send eyes flipping backwards into skulls. Filling the cracks of the fractured film is a story that without knowledge of the Philip K. Dick adaptation's previous incarnation is barely decipherable. Those who haven't seen Paul Verhoeven's 1990 Total Recall? Time to get a few memory implants. 2012 Recall makes little sense with the cinematic foundation but it does zero favors to those out of the know.
Colin Farrell takes over duties from Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid a down-on-his-luck factory worker hoping to escape his stagnate existence with a boost from Rekall a company capable of engineering fake memories. Quaid calls the damp slums of "The Colony" home (one of two inhabitable parts of Earth) but he dreams of moving to the New Federation of Britain a pristine metropolis on the other side of the planet. When the futuristic treatment goes awry — caused by previously existing memories of our blue collar hero's supposed past life as a secret agent — Quaid emerges from Rekall with lethal power hidden under his mild-mannered persona. He quickly goes on the run escaping squads of soldiers robots and his assassin "wife " Lori (Kate Beckinsale) all hot on his tail. Total Recall turns into one long chase scene as Quaid unravels the mystery of his erased memories.
But when it comes to answers and heady sci-fi Total Recall falls short. Farrell isn't a hulking action star like Schwarzenegger but he's a performer that can sensitively explore any human crisis big or small. Director Len Wiseman (Underworld Live Free or Die Hard) never gives his leading man that opportunity. Farrell makes the best of the films occasional slow moment but the weight of Recall's mindf**k is suffocated in a series of fist fights hovercar pile-ups and foot chases pulled straight out of the latest platformer video game (a sequence that sends Quaid running across the geometric rooftop architecture of The Colony looks straight out of Super Mario Bros.). When Jessica Biel as Quaid's former romantic interest Melina and Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston as the power-hungry politico Cohaagen are finally woven into Farrell's feature length 50 yard dash it's too late — the movie isn't making sense and it's not about to regardless of the charm on screen.
The action is slick and the futuristic design is impeccable but without any time devoted to building the stakes Total Recall feels more like a HDTV demo than a thrilling blockbuster. The movie's greatest innovation is the central set piece "The Fall " an elevator that travels between the two cities at rapid speed. The towering keystone of mankind is a marvel but we never get to see it explore it or feel its implications on the world around it. Instead it's cemented as a CG background behind the craze of Farrell shooting his way through hoards of bad guys.
Science fiction more than any other dramatic genre twist demands attention to the details. New worlds aren't built on broad strokes. But Total Recall tries to get away with it in hopes that audiences will recall their own movie knowledge to support its faulty logic. The movie repeatedly prompts viewers to think back to the 1990 version with blatant fan service that's absolutely nonsensical in this restructured version (no longer does Quaid go to Mars but there's still a three-breasted alien?). The callbacks may have given Total Recall a "been there done that" feel but rarely is it coherent enough to get that far. By the closing credits you'll be struggling to remember what you spent the last two hours watching.
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.