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.
Winfrey's Oprah's Angel Network charity set up several initiatives after the 2005 storm to help displaced residents of New Orleans, Louisiana who lost their homes in the hurricane.
The organisation teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to build and furnish houses for approximately 65 families who were forced to relocate to Houston, Texas after Katrina hit.
But now four people who were handed new homes with backing from the star's Angel Lane Housing Development scheme have been accused of continuing to claim rental benefits from the government.
Darlene McGruder Poole, 30, of Houston, and her sister, Lashona McGruder Victor, 37, of La Place, Louisiana, are charged together with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Kiesha Murphy, 34, and Angela Payne, aka Angela McKinnies, 38, both of Houston, are each charged in separate indictments with making false statements to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and theft of government property.
U.S. District Attorney Tim Johnson says, "The response to natural disasters brings out the best and worst in people. Generous acts of charity are tarnished by those who despite the generosity of others, fraudulently make claims for government relief funds.
Victor and Poole each face up to 20 years in prison and a fine if convicted, while Murphy and Payne each face a sentence of up to 15 years and a fine.
Spider-Man 2 sets DVD release date
Fans anxious to get their hands on the Spider-Man 2 DVD will have to wait a bit longer than they did for the original Spider-Man's home release. Variety reported Thursday that Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is releasing Spider-Man 2 to DVD Nov. 30--a month later than the release of the original, back in 2002. Columbia is hoping to curb the problem it had two years ago when it shipped millions more Spider-Man DVDs than actually sold. The November release date also means Columbia can focus their attention on the Seinfield series DVD set, which will be released just before Thanksgiving. Fans will also be able to purchase a two-pack with DVDs of both Spider-Man movies for $39.95. The first DVD edition of Spider-Man 2, however, will have 10 hours' worth of bonus features and commentaries.
Publicist Lizzie Grubman gets reality show
MTV is launching a reality show starring infamous publicist-to-the-stars Lizzie Grubman, who is better know for serving 37 days in jail backing her sport utility vehicle into a crowd of Hamptons clubgoers three years ago. PoweR Girls will follow Grubman and her public relations team behind the velvet rope as they live, work and play in Manhattan, Los Angeles, the Hamptons and Miami, the AP reports. The series, picked up for six episodes, will premiere in spring 2005. "I'm looking forward to MTV viewers seeing the hard work and long hours it takes to run your own business," Grubman said in a statement Wednesday. According to her Web site, her celebrity clients include Britney Spears, Russell Simmons, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Gloria Estefan.
Regis Philbin sets world record
Regis Philbin has set a world record for the most hours logged on television, the AP reports. Friday's broadcast of Live with Regis and Kelly gives Philbin 15,188 hours on the tube-giving him the Guinness World Record for most hours on camera. According to Guinness World Records researcher Stuart Claxton, that's more than broadcaster Hugh Downs. "Now it's all a big blur," Philbin told the AP Thursday as he looked back on his career that began as a San Diego news anchor in 1958. "When you look back that's a lot of hours on TV." Philbin, 72, has hosted the nationally syndicated Live in all 16 of its seasons--previously with Kathy Lee Gifford and now with Kelly Ripa. In his 46-year career, Philbin has hosted numerous news and entertainment shows, including the hit prime-time ABC game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
Autographed guitars auctioned to help Charley victims
Clear Channel Communications Inc. is auctioning off guitars autographed by musicians such as Britney Spears,Tom Petty and Kenny Rogers to raise money for Hurricane Charley victims in Florida, the AP reports. The radio giant said the online auction of 43 guitars signed by celebrities started Thursday and will end Sept. 20. All proceeds will be split between displaced families and the American Red Cross. Linkin Park, Stone Temple Pilots, Nickelback, ZZ Top, Tim McGraw and Shakira are also participating in the auction, which also includes a non-musical with instruments signed by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and comedian Mike Myers. The guitars are being offered on Clear Channel's StormAid.com Web site.
Sheryl Crow joins Vote for Change tour
Sheryl Crow, Jack Johnson and Crosby, Stills & Nash have joined the willing-to-rock coalition of musicians trying to unseat President Bush in November. Crow and the rest were added to the Vote for Change tour, which boasts a lineup of nearly 20 artists including Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews Band. Concert promoters told the AP Thursday the musicians will perform at some 38 shows in 32 cities in election swing states over the course of 12 days in October. Money generated from the concerts will go to America Coming Together (ACT), which promises on its Web site to "derail the right-wing Republican agenda by defeating George W. Bush." The shows will be presented by MoveOn PAC, the electoral arm of the liberal interest group MoveOn.org.
N.C. governor declares Saturday Fantasia Barrino day
North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley has proclaimed Saturday as Fantasia Barrino Day to mark the day she makes her first major singing appearance in her home state since winning the American Idol crown in May, the AP reports. Barrino is "a true testament to what happens when you put your heart and soul into your dream," Easley said in a statement, adding the singer "has shown through her amazing talent and larger-than-life personality that goodness does really grow right here in North Carolina." Barrino, who is of High Point, will perform in Winston-Salem with fellow American Idol contestants Saturday night, on the American Idols Tour 2004.
Neverland manager testifies in pretrial hearing
The property manager of Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch testified Friday that sheriff's deputies last year searched areas of the estate not specified in a warrant, The Associated Press reports. The testimony came at a pretrial hearing in which defense attorneys are trying to limit the evidence prosecutors can produce at Jackson's Jan. 31 trial. During the hearing, Joseph Marcus testified he initially cooperated when the horde of investigators arrived but objected when officers wanted to search areas that were not on the warrant. He said a deputy told him he would call and have the search warrant amended, but Marcus said that was not done as far as he knows, and the search went ahead anyway. Jackson, 45, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He has pleaded innocent and is free on $3 million bail.
Private eye testifies in Blake case
A 70-year-old private investigator is expected to testify before Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp on Friday--months ahead of time in Robert Blake's murder trial, the AP reports. The request was made by prosecutors who said that because of his age, William Jordan may be unavailable at the time of the trial, the AP reports. The Baretta star is charged with killing his 44-year-old wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, in 2001. She was found shot to death in their car outside a restaurant where they had just eaten. Blake hired Jordan in September 2000, in anticipation of child custody proceedings and according to phone records included in court filings, spoke with the private eye frequently up to the time of Bakley's murder. The trial is now scheduled to start Nov. 1. Blake, meanwhile, is free on $1.5 million bail but remains under house arrest.
Author Ray Bradbury wants Fahrenheit 9/11 renamed
Ray Bradbury, author of the classic 1953 science-fiction novel Fahrenheit 451, wants an apology from filmmaker Michael Moore for taking the book's title for his documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 without permission and wants the documentary to be renamed. Bradbury, 83, told The Associated Press Friday he called Moore's company six months ago to protest the use of the film's title, but only received a call back from the filmmaker last Saturday. "He suddenly realized he's let too much time go by," Bradbury said. Fahrenheit 451, which takes its title from the temperature at which books burn, depicts a futuristic society in which firemen burn homes and libraries in order to destroy the books inside to prevent people from thinking independently. Moore has called Fahrenheit 9/11 the "temperature at which freedom burns." Bradbury, a registered political independent, said he would rather avoid litigation and is "hoping to settle this as two gentlemen, if he'll shake hands with me and give me back my book and title," the AP reports. A spokeswoman for Fahrenheit 9/11 said the film's makers have the utmost respect for Bradbury, adding: "Mr. Bradbury's work has been an inspiration to all of us involved in this film, but when you watch this film you will see the fact that the title reflects the facts that the movie explores, the very real life events before, around and after 9-11."
Method Man unhappy with new sitcom
Rapper/actor Method Man, whose new Fox comedy series Method & Red drew more than 8 million viewers in its debut Wednesday, says he's unhappy with the network for veering from his original version of the sitcom. "I'm trying to keep this show ghetto, and there's a way for it to be both ghetto and intelligent," Method Man, who co-stars and executive produces the show, told the Los Angeles Times. "I know what I wanted this show to be, but there's been too much compromise on our side and not enough on their side." In the series, Method Man and fellow rapper Redman play two successful hip-hop stars who move into a rich and predominantly white gated community in the suburbs. Method Man blames the show's executives and writers for trying too hard to appeal to Middle America with "lame jokes."
Blake's lawyer needs more time
Robert Blake's latest lawyer, Gerald Schwartzbach, said he will not be prepared to defend the actor on charges of murdering his wife, Bonny Lee Bakely, by Sept. 9 when the case is scheduled to go to trial, the AP reports. Blake, 70, is charged with murdering the 44-year-old Bakley on May 4, 2001. Schwartzbach said the 60,000 pages of evidence and a large number of audio and video recordings to review, plus several missing items of evidence to locate, would make beginning the trial in three months all but impossible. But while Deputy District Attorney Shellie Samuels agreed that items have been inadvertently misplaced in the three years that have elapsed since the murder of Blake's wife, she said they do not represent a major gap in the evidence and accused Blake of wanting to delay the trial to extend his freedom. Schwartzbach said he would give Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp an estimate of when he would be ready for trial at a status conference set for July 16.
Miramax considering layoffs
As the end of the fiscal year nears, Miramax Films is considering some cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, a source close to the studio told AP. Miramax, which operates on $700 million yearly from parent company Walt Disney Co., has already spent most of that on upcoming big-budget films such as Martin Scorsese's The Aviator and Johnny Depp's Finding Neverland. Miramax co-heads Bob and Harvey Weinstein are currently in the throes of a very public and sticky renegotiation process with Disney chief Michael Eisner, who wants to reduce Miramax's budget and the Weinsteins' pay.
Former Vivendi chief arrested
Jean-Marie Messier, the former head of Vivendi Universal, who left the corporation amidst controversy in 2002, was taken into police custody Monday in an investigation into financial wrongdoing during his time at the media and telecommunications giant, police told AP. French investigators are probing a massive share buyback in which Vivendi allegedly spent over $1.2 billion to prop up its own share price in the weeks following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Messier. Police said Messier was being held by the financial crime brigade and could remain in custody for questioning for up to 48 hours.
Archbishop considers Simpsons appearance
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is not only the head of the world's 70 million Anglicans, he is also an avid fan of The Simpsons. Reuters reports producers of the hit animated comedy invited Williams, 54, to take part in an episode after he praised the program for its humor and humility in Britain's Sunday Times. "We'd love to have him on the show...It's a great thrill that the archbishop is such a fan," Simpson's executive producer Al Jean said. "In the beginning, some religious groups in the United States disliked the show, so to have such a prominent religious leader defend it is great," he added. A spokesman for the archbishop said they had not yet received an invitation but that it would certainly be considered. "It would be a very intriguing prospect," he added.
Dallas hands key to Spike Lee
Filmmaker Spike Lee received a lifetime achievement award in Dallas, Tex., and the key to the city Friday at the Fourth Annual Lyrical Underground, an event celebrating Black Music Month, AP reports. "Spike Lee is the most remarkable African-American filmmaker in the last 18 years," said event spokesman Noel Hankin. "Through his movies, he has challenged his audiences to think as well as question the status quo." Past recipients include Earvin "Magic" Johnson and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Hamptons Festival winners eligible for Oscar
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has recognized the Hamptons Film Festival as a qualifying fest for the Academy Awards' shorts categories. Variety reports that provided title complies with Academy rules, winners of the festival's Golden Starfish Award for best short will qualify for Oscar consideration. The Hamptons Film Festival runs Oct. 20-24.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.