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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We're just a few hours away from the announcement of the most prestigious awards ceremony in all of Hollywood when we learn the nominees for the 2013 Oscars ceremony. But we already know who won the most prestigious celebrity diving competition in all of Hollywood. (Just replace prestigious with televised, and celebrity with available.)
Antonio Sabato Jr. emerged the champion of Fox's two-hour event/tragic sideshow Stars in Danger: The High Dive because of his near flawless performance and dedication to his craft. In short, Antonio Sabato Jr. was essentially the Daniel Day-Lewis of Stars in Danger: The High Dive. The former soap opera star ended the evening with a final score of 53, narrowly edging out Baywatch actress Alexandra Paul with her score of 52.5. But, there were some other scores to take into consideration. Hollywood.com may not have been on the judges panel (even though we should have been) but that doesn't mean we weren't keeping score on our own. Here's some numbers that should have factored into the final tally: 2500: People who willingly showed up to watch this unfold right before their very eyes. 100: The percent chance Terrell Owens will wind up on Dancing with the Stars following this. 10: Unintentional hilarity of the dramatization of these "stars" actually being in real "danger". (That said, when someone who lost their arm to a shark says diving is scary, maybe it is a little dangerous.)10: The totally intentional hilarity of watching Real Housewives stars and The Shining sisters Kim Richards and Kyle Richards fall and flop off of high dives. 9.3: Unabashedly enjoying watching "Twitch" and Bethany Hamilton, especially their synchronized dive. Give them their own spin-off, Fox!9.1 Antonio Sabato Jr.'s abs9.0 Antonio Sabato Jr.'s unbearably intense intensity face. 7.3 The special legitimately showing what goes into the difficult sport of diving. 6.2: Filling the void of the Summer Olympics. 6.1: The sinking feeling that this was better than most of NBC's Olympics coverage. 3.7: Terrible diving puns from the robotic hosts, such as "Let's dive into this competition!"2.0: Number of people from Baywatch. (David Chokachi and runner-up Alexandra Paul). 1.2: Any resemblance of self-awareness, either from the competing stars or the show itself. 0: Stars who actually died from all that looming danger. -120: Minutes of your own life lost from watching this.-1000: Advertising that Jenni 'J-WOWW' Farley, the one person we were truly looking forward to watching, was actually competing in this. The Jersey Shore star sustained an injury and appeared on screen for roughly 15 minutes. Hmm, why does 15 minutes sound so familiar with this bunch?... Oscar who? This is truly the gold standard in entertainment! [Photo credit: Eric Liebowitz/FOX] More:
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Hollywood D-listers: is there anything they can't do? They dance, they skate — sometimes they even cook. But now they are taking the next step, literally, onto a diving board. Tonight is the two-hour premiere of the special Stars in Danger: The High Dive on Fox (of course), in which celebrities learn complicated, Olympic-style dives with the help of Olympic medalist Troy Dumais — and then must perform them in a competition, in which the best divers move on to the next round. (You pretty much know how this reality thing works by now.)
Of course, Stars in Danger: The High Dive, which is ushering in a new wave (get it?!) of reality TV, is not to be mistaken with ABC's upcoming series Celebrity Divers in which celebrities learn complicated, Olympic-style dives and then must perform them in a competition, in which the best divers move on. Okay, so they are the same thing. But, hey, this one got here first and has a far more hilarious name.
Before these celebrities walk the plank — er, get up on the high dive to belly flop their way into our homes, hearts, and ultimately oblivion, we wanted to give you the full rundown before you tune in tonight.
"Stars" You'll Recognize: Jenni 'J-WOWW' Farley of Jersey Shore is arguably the most currently famous one of the bunch, if that doesn't tell you everything right there. There's also Antonio Sabato Jr., Terrell Owens, Bethany Hamilton, Alexandra Paul, "Twitch" from So You Think You Can Dance, and Real Housewives stars Kim Richards and Kyle Richards.
You'll Like It If: Skating with the Stars was a little too highbrow for your taste.
Top 5 Reasons You Might Want to Watch: The very good possibility that one of the competing stars will endure a painful cannonball or belly flop; Antonio Sabato Jr. in a Speedo; you get a kick out of schadenfreude (after all, this special is borrowed from a German reality TV format); you think the People's Choice Awards airing over on CBS are rigged anyway; you're actually a diver/fan of diving and are legitimately intrigued to see how these celebs fair in the sport.
5 Reasons You Might NOT Want to Watch: Prosperity, love, your children, your children's children, hope for any remaining shred of dignity for yourself and the rest of the country.
Love it, or Leave it? Love it if you will take any sort of reality television fix you can get or need something to tide you over until Celebrity Diving, leave it if you find reality television competitions more grating than swimmer's ear.
[Photo credit: Jordin Althaus/FOX]
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Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.