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.
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.
With plans to record a fundraising song titled "What More Can I Give?" Michael Jackson has lined up support from today's hottest acts to aid survivors and families of victims of the recent terrorist attacks the United States suffered earlier this month.
The question is: Could Jackson recreate the success of his 1985 tribute tune "We Are the World"? Our answer: Definitely.
With support from Destiny's Child, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync and Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys, Jackson is currently recording "What More Can I Give?" with the goal of raising $50 million for relief efforts, Jackson's spokesman, Howard Rubenstein, told ABCNews.com on Monday.
According to SonicNet.com, a Spanish-language version of the song is also in the works.
On Thursday, however, a spokeswoman for Jive Records told Hollywood.com that neither Spears nor Timberlake had confirmed their involvement in the upcoming Michael Jackson project.
"I believe in my heart that the music community will come together as one and rally to the aid of thousands of innocent victims," Jackson said on a press release. "There is a tremendous need for relief dollars right now and through this effort, each one of us can play an immediate role in helping comfort so many people."
Who would know better than to come up with a project like this than Jackson, who in 1985 co-wrote the tune "We Are the World" with Lionel Richie, a song that would raise $65 million for USA for Africa, a fund that helps victims of starvation in Africa.
The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 on March 23, 1985 at No. 21 and won a Grammy for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
While some may think that Jackson's effort to record a new song is only intended to increase interest in his comeback efforts, the King of Pop has always been involved in charitable organizations.
In October 1998, tenor Luciano Pavarotti and Jackson's close friend Elizabeth Taylor joined the superstar in a series of concerts Jackson organized and headlined to benefit the World Peace Foundation for Children (WPFC), in hopes of providing aid to needy children and families around the world.
In Jackson's opinion, music is capable of touching people's souls, and it's "time we use that power to help us begin the process of healing immediately," he told ABCNews.com.
Jackson is not alone. Other musicians are doing their part to pay tribute to the victims by donating to different relief funds.
Music producer Phil Ramone and television producer Merv Griffin assembled several of the artists in Los Angeles to attend a fund raising event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sept. 16.
Stacey Wolf, publicist for actor Kevin Spacey, said that the event benefited the American Red Cross and featured a performance of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" sung by Spacey.
Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, are some of the confirmed participants at the America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon being put together by the CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC networks. The event will be broadcast live from Los Angeles and New York Friday at 9 p.m. Eastern and Central. The show will be tape-delayed in the Mountain and Pacific time zones.
Singer Whitney Houston is taking a similar approach by planning to re-release her rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," which she originally performed before the Super Bowl XXV in 1991, when the nation had ended the Persian Gulf War. Houston's label, Arista Records, told SonicNet the singer will split the proceeds between the New York Firefighters Disaster Relief Fun and the New York Fraternal Order of Police Fund.
Janet Jackson, James Taylor and R&B singer Maxwell have joined the band Earth, Wind & Fire, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Backstreet Boys, and Sade with $10,000 each in donations to the ClearChannel.com Relief Fund.
Rebecca Allmon, director of public relations for Clear Channel World Wide, told Hollywood.com on Friday that the fund has raised $5.4 million through artist contributions, patron donations, and individuals around the country who can donate money over the phone or online through Clear Channel's official Web site.
"We are so overwhelmed with the generosity of Americans everywhere who are financially participating to express their outrage," Allmon said. "We are deeply fortunate to be in a position to make that happen."
Proceeds from the Clear Channel Relief Fund will benefit organizations including the New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania police, firefighters and emergency workers, the U.S. Military and National Guard personnel, and the national and local chapters of The American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
By having access to media resources, such as radio stations and public service campaigns, Allmon said, billboards have been created across the nation with messages that read, "In God We Trust. United We Stand."
On Sept. 14 in Birmingham, Ala., Governor Don Siegelman, spoke and led an audience of 7,000 for a candle light vigil, where civil and religious entities had an opportunity to express their feelings on the tragedy, Allmon said.
Britney Spears, along with boyfriend Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync, have created The Giving Back Fund, a charity foundation to aid the families of victims of the attacks, Launch.com reports. The fund is gathering entertainers and athletes for a special event in the near future that will benefit victims.
Spears also plans to give $1 from each ticket sold for her upcoming fall tour, and hopes plans to raise $2 million in merchandise sales and by auctioning front-row seats at her shows, The Associated Press reported.
Janes Addiction's guitarist Dave Navarro had mobile units for blood for his Sept. 12 show in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Charlotte, N.C. show on Sept. 15. "Dave didn't feel comfortable with playing shows without doing something about it," Navarro's publicist, Bobbi Gale, told Hollywood.com on Friday.
Rock band Incubus donated the proceeds from their Sept. 15 and 16 shows in New York to relief efforts. Godsmack also donated their proceeds from the sale of their merchandise to the New York City Public and Private Initiative, a fund benefiting the families of police officers and firefighters.
After canceling her show on Sept. 11, the day of the attack, Madonna led a prayer for peace at her Staples Center performance in Los Angeles on Sept. 14. Other artists such as Aerosmith, Stevie Nicks, Janet Jackson and Cake have canceled shows in the aftermath of the tragedy.