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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Beloved British actresses Angela Lansbury and Penelope Keith have landed Dame titles in Queen Elizabeth II's annual New Year Honours List. The Good Life star Keith and Murder, She Wrote's Lansbury join fellow thespians Michael Crawford and Lynda Bellingham, singer Katherine Jenkins, veteran TV presenter Nicholas Parsons and sculptor Antony Gormley among the other celebrities on the newly-released list.
Of her damehood Keith, 73, says, "It's a recognition for not only my 54 years being an actress but also for all the charities with which I'm associated and I think they'll be thrilled."
And Lansbury tells the BBC, "I'm joining a marvellous group of women I greatly admire like Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. It's a lovely thing to be given that nod of approval by your own country and I really cherish it."
Cats and The Phantom of the Opera choreographer Gillian Lynne will also add Dame to her name in 2014, while Turner Prize winner Gormley and theatre producer Michael Codron have both picked up knighthoods.
Michael Crawford and Nicholas Parsons have both picked up Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) medals for their charitable work, and composer and conductor Sir Peter Maxwell Davies has been named a companion of honour.
Bellingham has ended a tough year, during which she battled cancer, with an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) - an honour also bestowed on opera star Jenkins, who was left "incredibly humbled" after learning her name was on the list.
She says, "To accept such an award after only a decade of service to music and charity, comes as a wonderful surprise. I share this award with the charitable bodies I am so privileged to work with."
Meanwhile, conductor Sir Simon Rattle becomes one of only 24 living people to land an Order of Merit medal.
Others named among the New Year Honours include actress and writer Ruth Jones and DJ Pete Tong (both Member of the Order of the British Empire).
While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
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.
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Celebrity pregnancies are a common occurrence among the Hollywood realm, however, 2012 has already seen a plethora of baby bumps and births, and it's only March. So to help everyone get a full look at this year's exceptional baby boom, Hollywood.com has compiled a list of stars who are about to become (or already have become) parents.
First out of the baby gate were Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who officially became parents to baby girl, Blue Ivy Carter, on Jan.7. The superstar couple first announced the pregnancy at the 2011 VMA's after Beyoncé strategically placed her hand on her stomach, while giving a knowing smile. This is the duos first and only child.
Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan welcomed a son into the world on Feb. 7 and named him Exton Elias Downey. The baby weighed in at 7 lbs., 5 oz., and was 20 inches long. This was the couple's very first kid together, though Downey also has another son from his previous marriage with Deborah Falconer.
Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck welcomed their third child and first son on Feb. 27. Affleck posted the exciting news on his Facebook page along with revealing their newborn's name: Samuel Garner Affleck.
James Van Der Beek and his wife Kimberly welcomed a baby boy into the world on March 13. The pair already have a daughter named Olivia, who's 17-months-old, however, they've yet to announce the name they've chosen for their newest little bundle of joy. Feel free to throw out any suggestions.
Charlize Theron shocked the world on March 14 when her rep announced that the actress decided to adopt a healthy baby boy named Jackson. The child was born in the United States and is of African-American decent. And since Theron currently isn't seeing anyone at the moment, she's taking on this new role of motherhood completely solo.
Maggie Gyllenhaal's pregnancy became public knowledge in late November 2011, where she was reportedly already six months along. So, if you do the math, she should be due any day now. This will be the actress's second child with her husband Peter Sarsgaard. The couple already share a five-year-old daughter together, Ramona.
Hilary Duff announced her pregnancy on her official website in August 2011. Later on in October, the actress revealed on The Ellen Show that she and her professional hockey player husband, Mike Comrie, are expecting a baby boy. And though Duff has yet to give birth, she's scheduled to be due in late March or early April, so there's only a few more weeks to go.
Jessica Simpson revealed her baby bump on Halloween 2011, after dressing up as a "mummy" and cradling her stomach. Since then, she's been a pretty open book in regards to her pregnancy and even posed nude for Elle magazine — where she announced that she and fiance Eric Johnson are expecting a girl. Simpson's little girl is due sometime in April, and the baby's name is rumored to be Maxwell (Maxi for short).
Chris Hemsworth's rep confirmed in January 2012 that the actor will become a first-time father sometime this spring, after news broke that his wife Elsa Pataky was pregnant. The couple are extremely excited about the upcoming birth and have opted to be surprised by the child's gender. But whether it's a boy or girl, it's bound to be a good looking baby.
Kourtney Kardashian announced that she was expecting a second child with her boyfriend of five years, Scott Disick, back in November 2011. At the time she was only nine weeks along in her pregnancy, which means she's scheduled to give birth sometime in June. The reality, who already has a two-year-old son named Mason, revealed in February that she'll be having a baby girl.
Alyson Hannigan and her husband of eight years, Alexis Denisof, are currently expecting their second child together. And while the news was officially confirmed by Hannigan's rep back in December, the actual due date is not yet known. She currently has a 2-year-old daughter, Satyana Marie.
After a lot of back and forth baby rumors over the past few months, Snooki finally confirmed that she's fifteen weeks pregnant as of March 2012. The reality star is due sometime over the summer, either in late July or early August, and the father is her longtime boyfriend Jionni LaValle.
Nick Lachey announced on Live! With Kelly on March 5 that his wife Vanessa Minnillo is pregnant with their very first child. The gender and name choice are still unknown, however, Lachey did reveal that the due date is in late summer or early fall.
Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kim Zolciak and her husband Kroy Biermann are also expecting another child later this fall. The reality star shared the news via Twitter on March 20, writing, "@biermann71 and I are happy to announce YES WE ARE PREGNANT!" The couple just welcomed a son Kroy Jagger Jr. in November 2011. Zolciak also has two daughters -- Brielle, 15, and Ariana, 9 -- from a previous relationship.
And last, but certainly not least, news broke on March 21 that Reese Witherspoon is 12 weeks pregnant, which puts her due date in either late August of early September. The actress already has two children with her ex-husband Ryan Phillippe (daughter Ava, 12, and son Deacon, 8), however, this will be her first child with her new hubby Jim Toth.