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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The veteran film-maker, actor and comedian has earned his place in movie history as one of the most prolific directors of his generation - shooting and releasing roughly one film every year for the last three decades.
And Allen shows no signs of slowing down - he shot his latest project, Midnight in Paris, in the French capital with an A-list cast including Rachel McAdams, Adrien Brody and Marion Cotillard.
To mark his milestone, WENN has trawled through the archives and put together 10 fascinating facts about the legend himself...
- He was born Allan Stewart Konigsberg in New York City and took his stage name from the clarinet player Woody Herman.
- He studied film at New York University but was thrown out after failing a film course in his first year.
- Allen got his start in showbiz when he was just a teenager - at 19, he was writing scripts for several TV shows, including Candid Camera, The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show.
- He has won three Academy Awards and been nominated a total of 21 times, holding more Oscar screenwriting nominations than any other writer.
- Allen has had romantic relationships with his actress muses Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow and was once married to actress Louise Lasser.
- The director is his own harshest critic and refuses to watch his movies after they are released, although he's hailed 2005's Match Point, starring Scarlett Johansson and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as lovers, as his best work.
- A life-size statue of Allen stands in his favourite Spanish city, Oviedo. He shot his 2008 movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona there.
- Jazz is one of Allen's greatest passions - he has been playing the clarinet since he was a child and now performs weekly at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan.
- Allen provided the voice of the neurotic worker ant, Z, in the 1998 animated hit Antz.
- A devoted New York Knicks fan, Allen is a season-ticket holder and has four courtside seats.