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 genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
It was the trickle of pee heard around the world. Cannes attendees were aghast and/or amused an infamous scene from The Paperboy that shows Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron; this is apparently a great salve for jellyfish burns which were covering our Ken Doll-like protagonist. (In fact the term protagonist should be used very loosely for Efron's character Jack who is mostly acted upon than active throughout.)
Lurid! Sexy! Perverse! Trashy! Whether or not it's actually effective is overshadowed by all the hubbub that's attached itself to the movie for better or worse. In fact the movie is all of these things — but that's actually not a compliment. What could have become somethingmemorable is jaw-droppingly bad (when it's not hilarious). Director Lee Daniels uses a few different visual styles throughout from a stark black and white palette for a crime scene recreation at the beginning to a '70s porno aesthetic that oscillates between psychedelic and straight-up sweaty with an emphasis on Efron's tighty-whiteys. This only enhances the sloppiness of the script which uses lines like narrator/housekeeper/nanny Anita's (Macy Gray) "You ain't tired enough to be retired " to conjure up the down-home wisdom of the South. Despite Gray's musical talents she is not a good choice for a narrator or an actor for that matter. In a way — insofar as they're perhaps the only female characters given a chunk of screen time — her foil is Charlotte Bless Nicole Kidman's character. Anita is the mother figure who wears as we see in an early scene control-top pantyhose whereas Charlotte is all clam diggers and Barbie doll make-up. Or as Anita puts it "an oversexed Barbie doll."
The slapdash plot is that Jack's older brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) comes back to town with his colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo) to investigate the case of a death row criminal named Hillary Van Wetter. Yardley is black and British which seems to confuse many of the people he meets in this backwoods town. Hillary (John Cusack) hidden under a mop of greasy black hair) is a slack-jawed yokel who could care less if he's going to be killed for a crime he might or might not have committed. He is way more interested in his bride-to-be Charlotte who has fallen in love with him through letters — this is her thing apparently writing letters and falling in love with inmates — and has rushed to help Ward and Yardley free her man. In the meantime we're subjected to at least one simulated sex scene that will haunt your dreams forever. Besides Hillary's shortcomings as a character that could rustle up any sort of empathy the case itself is so boring it begs the question why a respected journalist would be interested enough to pursue it.
The rest of the movie is filled with longing an attempt to place any the story in some sort of social context via class and race even more Zac Efron's underwear sexual violence alligator innards swamp people in comically ramshackle homes and a glimpse of one glistening McConaughey 'tock. Harmony Korine called and he wants his Gummo back.
It's probably tantalizing for this cast to take on "serious" "edgy" work by an Oscar-nominated director. Cusack ditched his boombox blasting "In Your Eyes" long ago and Efron's been trying to shed his squeaky clean image for so long that he finally dropped a condom on the red carpet for The Lorax so we'd know he's not smooth like a Ken doll despite how he was filmed by Daniels. On the other hand Nicole Kidman has been making interesting and varied career choices for years so it's confounding why she'd be interested in a one-dimensional character like Charlotte. McConaughey's on a roll and like the rest of the cast he's got plenty of interesting projects worth watching so this probably won't slow him down. Even Daniels is already shooting a new film The Butler as we can see from Oprah's dazzling Instagram feed. It's as if they all want to put The Paperboy behind them as soon as possible. It's hard to blame them.
UPDATE: A rep for Dimension Films has confirmed that Kristen Bell and Anna Paquin will appear in Scream 4.
Wes Craven never fails to bring good looking gals to the set of his Scream movies and nothing is different with the highly-anticipated fourth installment of his genre-redefining franchise. The director has reassembled some of the survivors of his initial trilogy, including Neve Campbell's Sidney Prescott and David Arquette's Dewey Riley, in addition to populating the cast with young stars like Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere, but that's not where the girl power ends in this production.
Though the film has been shooting for close to two months now, USA Today reports that there may be a few secretive last minute additions to the roster. The paper's Cindy Clark says that Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell will appear in the fourquel in undisclosed roles, which has led to speculation that the pair of blond's may start the film off strong and sexy with a particularly exciting death scene. There is no evidence to support that, but I can't deny that I'd love to see Sarah Marshall and Sookie Stackhouse exploring the depths of their sexuality in the back seat of a car before getting hacked to pieces by Ghostface. An even more interesting turn of events would be finding out that Bell and Paquin are behind the mask this time around...
Scream 4 also stars Courteney Cox, Rory Culkin, Nico Tortorella, Anthony Anderson and Marielle Jaffe and will hit theaters on April 15th 2011.
Source: USA TODAY
The media just want to get a peek at Madonna. But the pop star’s security guards want to take a peek under her guests’ kilts.
Photographers, cameramen and reporters from all over the world have already begun to set up camp in the sleepy Scottish town of Dornoch for what will be the biggest celebrity wedding of the year, Reuters reports. The Queen of Pop is scheduled to marry British filmmaker Guy Ritchie (“Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”) at Skibo castle on Friday.
But the media frenzy is expected to start going into overdrive Thursday when the couple will christen their 3-month-old baby, Rocco.
Security is said to be extremely tight, with rumors going around saying that the pop star’s security guards will be checking under Scotsmen’s kilts as they enter the castle to keep those pesky hidden cameras at bay.
The Material Mom reportedly wants to avoid the media circus that gathered at her first wedding in 1985 to actor Sean Penn (uh, good luck).
``Madonna's bodyguards are a pretty hard-bitten bunch. They think this idea is a hoot and are calling themselves the Sporran Legion,'' one castle insider reportedly said.
Meanwhile, it’s also been reported that British pop star Elton John will perform his hit song “Song For Guy” on an $18,000 piano at the reception. Ex-Police" frontman Sting will also reportedly sing at the reception.
The guest list includes some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities. Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow is set to be the maid of honor and Madonna’s father, Tony, will give his daughter away.
KIRSTY MACCOLL KILLED IN ACCIDENT: British singer Kirsty MacColl was killed Monday when she was struck by a motorboat while swimming with her two sons off the coast of Cozumel Island, Mexico, Reuters reports. She was 41.
MacColl is best known for her songs “They Don’t Know” and “There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis.” She also provided vocals for the Rolling Stones and Morrissey.
EMINEM BANNED IN NEW ZEALAND: Rap fans love him, but New Zealanders can do without him. Rapper Eminem’s newest CD, "The Marshall Mathers LP," has received an R18 classification, which means the album is prohibited from being sold or given to anyone under age 18, Reuters reports.
Also, any store caught selling the album to a minor in New Zealand could face a $25,000 fine. The Classification Office banned the controversial record after receiving complaints of its sexual and violent material.
POPS STAPLES DIES: Gospel icon Roebuck “Pops” Staples died Tuesday after suffering a concussion from a fall. He was 85. Staples gained fame with his R&B group the Staples Singers in the 1960s by singing music that urged social and religious change, Reuters reports.
The group gained more recognition with hits such as “I'll Take You There,'' ``Respect Yourself,'' ``Heavy Makes You Happy'' and ``If You're Ready (Come Go With Me).'' The group also recorded “Let’s Do It Again,” which was the title track of the film starring Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier.
ODB BACK IN COURT: Wu-Tang Clan member Ol’ Dirty Bastard is expected to be in a New York courtroom this week to face outstanding drug charges, Reuters reports. The rapper, whose real name is Russell Jones, fled a court-mandated drug-rehab center and became a fugitive in October.
He showed up in New York the next month to perform with his group but was not arrested. Police later arrested ODB a week later in a Philadelphia McDonald’s. He also faces separate drug charges in Brooklyn, as well as charges of making terrorist threats, driving without a license and failing to pay child support. He faces up to seven years in prison for the drug charges alone.
10,000 MANIACS GUITARIST DIES: Rob Buck, lead guitarist for 10,000 Maniacs, died Tuesday due to complications from liver failure, The Associated Press reports. He was 42.
Buck is best known for composing the band’s hits “Hey Jack Kerouac” and “What’s The Matter Here?” He died at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, according to the band’s publicist.
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