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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Book fetishists all agree that publishing needs to stay afloat, at any cost. But the parallel release of the David Shields/Shane Salerno book about the hermit that defined a generation, Salinger, and the documentary of the same name by Salerno raises the first question Holden Caulfield would have asked. Is it way too phony?
Never mind the New York subway posters claiming the book will change the way you think about Salinger. What is the subtext of the dust cover that refers to it as the “The Official Book of the Acclaimed Documentary Film?”
This chicken/egg synergy hedges the strangest bet: that two floundering but august forms of cultural production might help each other out in the marketplace, and a doc can transform a biography into page-turner. This flick might: there are enough celebrity talking heads in it to fill a red carpet.
It’s counterintuitive, but my guess is that best sellers make more money than documentaries. Books have longer shelf lives. Ask Salinger. And if the claims are true about the imminent flood of manuscripts Salinger tucked away for posthumous publication, there will be another party grinning ear to ear. The Salinger estate.
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Kevin Bacon took on the leading role when an injury forced Lowe to limp out of auditions for the hit movie musical, and the St. Elmo's Fire star still winces whenever anyone mentions Footloose.
And that almost cost him a dream duet with Loggins at a party last month (Dec12) - after performances from former tennis ace John McEnroe and Oscars host Seth McFarlane.
He explains, "It was a highfalutin Hollywood soiree and there was a high-level karaoke... and Kenny Loggins was there and asked me to sing a duet. He wanted me to do Footloose with him.
"Years ago I auditioned for Footloose and I blew out my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), so I have post-traumatic stress with anything having to do with Footloose. I was like, 'I won't do anything with that damn movie, but I'll do Danger Zone from Top Gun.'"
He quickly learned that Loggins feels the same way about that song as he does about Footloose - because the lyrics are dreadful.
Lowe adds, "He told me a great story... Giorgio Moroder, the big producer, didn't wanna share lyric credit or pay any money, so he gave the engineer $10... to write the lyrics. Absolutely true story."
But the odd couple stepped up to the microphone to belt out the song anyway. Lowe says, "I was stuck with the c**p lyrics."
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone raked in a record breaking $5 million in limited Sunday previews, Variety reports. Warner Bros. claims the Sunday sneaks were the highest single-day grosses in U.K history. The movie opens in the U.K. and North America Nov.16. Meanwhile, a special screening of Harry Potter on Sunday in Washington was greeted by protesters from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The group opposes Coca-Cola's $150 million partnership with Warner Bros., accusing the soft drink giant of peddling junk food to children. The deal, signed in February, makes Coca-Cola the sole global marketing partner for Harry Potter.
R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck is set to appear in court Monday for an alleged air rage incident on a British Airways flight from Seattle to London in April, Reuters reports. Buck has been charged with common assault on cabin crew, criminal damage, being drunk on an aircraft and disobeying an aircraft captain. The trial is expected to last five days.
Fleetwood Mac is back in the studio to record its first album since its 1997 reunion. The group, however, will be one member short. Singer/keyboardist Christine McVie has reportedly retired from rock 'n' roll and is living in an English castle. The four-piece band will include drummer Fleetwood, bass player John McVie, and songwriters Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Fleetwood has denied rumors that Sheryl Crow will help out, Reuters reports.
Brian Dennehy will portray former Indiana Hoosiers coach Bob Knight in a made-for-TV movie, The Associated Press reports. The movie, based on John Feinstein's A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers, will air on ESPN March 10.
Jay Leno led the 18th annual charity Love Ride on Sunday in Glendale, Calif. The 50-mile ride, followed by a barbecue and a concert, is expected to have raised $1 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and other charities. According to AP, riders included X-Files star Robert Patrick, Ian Ziering of Beverly Hills 90210 and daredevil Robbie Knievel.
Clive Barker (Hellraiser) and Todd McFarlane (Spawn) have signed a deal with Universal Pictures to produce a picture based on Barker's action figures. McFarlane Toys marketed the six action figures, Clive Barker's Tortured Souls-Animae Damnatae, in limited numbers last July and promptly sold out, Variety reports.
Forest Whitaker is in talks with Twentieth Century Fox to direct aFat Albert live-action picture, Variety reports. The feature film is based on Bill Cosby's cartoon Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids that ran on CBS for more than a decade. The film is slated for a 2003 summer release.
Paul Newman will reprise his role as Battler in the teleplay The World of Nick Adams, based on Ernest Hemmingway's collection of short stories. According to Variety, the teleplay will also feature Alec Baldwin, Matt Damon, Brian Dennehy, Morgan Freeman, Julia Roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow and will be presented at Avey Fisher Hall in New York on Nov. 19.
Sylvester Stallone is working on a new script for a fourth Rambo movie, PageSix.com reports. The story would pit Rambo against leaders of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Rambo IV could be ready by next year.
A set of old teeth belonging to Jack Nicholson will be auctioned off on the British TV show Auction World on Dec. 10, the BBC reports. Nicholson is reportedly upset that his teeth are to be sold this way and plans on buying the back. The set consists of a mix of small baby teeth and adult molars.