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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"Rob from the rich to give to the poor" has been Robin Hood's philosophy since the 15th century. But leave it to Kevin Costner, the star of our time's seminal Robin Hood retelling, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, to rewrite history. As Costner sees it, Robin Hood has been robbing the rich to give to the rich.
On Tuesday, Costner filed a lawsuit with the Los Angeles Superior Court against the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves production company Morgan Creek Productions. Costner is filing complaints for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, and unjust enrichment. In layman's terms, Costner believes Morgan Creek has been withholding the movie's profits from him and he's seeking retribution.
The lawsuit, prepared by Costner's attorneys Martin Singer and Michael Holtz of Lavely & Singer, begins with a strongly-worded cautionary tale. "Every actor hopes to star in a great movie that makes substantial profits," it begins. "But if you're hoping to earn profits on the success of your film and want to be paid on a timely basis, then one company you certainly do not want to do business with is Defendant Morgan Creek Productions, Inc."
The suit continues, "Mr Costner did as he promised – he starred in and promoted the Picture, helping it to become a huge success that earned Morgan Creek substantial profits. But when it came time for Morgan Creek to do as they promised and share those profits, they delayed, obfuscated, concealed and reneged." Sounds like Costner and his attorneys mean business.
The most burning question regarding Costner's suit, however, is not whether he will get his money back or even if he is owed profits at all. Instead, we're all wondering why he wants to remind people that Prince of Thieves exists. For your viewing pleasure, below is a scene from the film, and also, here's the video for that Bryan Adams song.
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: David Edwards/DailyCeleb.com]
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Kevin Costner Lawsuit
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.
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
Nobody does dog movies quite like Disney. The canine gold rush for Walt Disney Studios began in 1955 with the release of the animated Lady & the Tramp, which generated a $93.6M cume in three separate theatrical releases. The studio then continued with the king of all dog movies, 1961’s animated classic 101 Dalmatians ($144.8M cume in five releases), rolled through the 1990’s with the live action 101 and 102 Dalmatians starring Glenn Close, which combined to gross over $200M domestic, and has shown no signs of slowing down this decade with hits like Snow Dogs ($81.1M cume) and Eight Below ($81.6M). It’s fair to say that Disney has added another big dog to its resume.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua’s little star Chloe (voice by Drew Barrymore) may be small, but she has a very big bite. The new live action talking dog movie grabbed a stunning $8M on its opening day, and, with a predictably huge surge of family business Saturday and Sunday, Beverly Hills Chihuahua will likely reach an estimated $29M for the three-day. If the number holds, this would be the all-time second-biggest Disney dog movie opening in history, trailing only 1996’s live action 101 Dalmatians ($33.5M). Early math is pointing toward a possible $105M-$110M total domestic take.
Eagle Eye (Dreamworks/Paramount), the holdover high-tech thriller starring Shia LaBeouf, scared up another $5.44M on its second Friday, and it seems headed for an estimated $17.7M weekend, down only 39 percent or so from its meteoric opening. Based on that hold, the DJ Caruso-directed blockbuster will reach almost $55M by the end of Sunday and seems to be on track for $100M-$105M domestic.
Shia LaBeouf may be Hollywood’s biggest Under 25 male star, but 20-year-old Michael Cera is in the conversation thanks to Superbad ($121.5M cume) and Juno ($143.5M cume), but his new flick Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Sony) has opened below industry expectations The exceedingly well-reviewed teen comedy (71 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) is No. 3 for the day with $4.4M and that will likely translate to a less-than-expected $12M opening weekend. Director Peter Sollett’s first film was a quirky teen romance set in Lower Manhattan called Raising Victor Vargas, which earned five Independent Spirit Awards, so he had the perfect sensibility to make a movie like this work. Despite the soft opening, the Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist will still be very profitable with a production budget of only $10M.
The Richard Gere-Diane Lane tearjerker Nights in Rodanthe (Warner Bros) is solidly entrenched at fourth for the day and the weekend. The Nicholas Sparks adaptation is luring Females 25 Plus to America’s multiplexes with about $2.4M on Friday and an anticipated second weekend of $7.35M, down just 45 percent. That will give Rodanthe a new cume of $25M or so by Monday morning.
The Ed Harris-directed Appaloosa (Warner Bros) is proving that America still loves a good Western. With a cast that includes Viggo Mortensen and Oscar winners Renee Zellweger and Jeremy Irons, this second directorial effort for Harris has expanded to 1,045 playdates with terrific results. The old-fashioned shoot-em-up seized $1.6M on Friday, and it is headed for a strong $5M weekend, good for fifth place.
David Zucker’s conservative comedy rant An American Carol (Vivendi) has surpassed industry expectations with $1.22M on its opening day. The movie, which makes sport of the uber liberal “documentarian” Michael Moore will likely sell $3.8M in tickets over the weekend for $2,325 Per Theatre Average. Although it was not screened for critics, L.A. Weekly’s Scott Foundas did manage to see it, and he says, “The movie’s level of political discourse makes Couric/Palin look like Frost/Nixon.” Regardless, it was not made for left coast critics, and there is clearly room at multiplexes for movies made by and for conservatives.
Ironically, holdover Fireproof (IDP Films/Samuel Goldwyn), a Christian-themed film made by the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, will likely outperform An American Carol for the th-day despite being in its second week and showing at almost 800 fewer locations. The red state-friendly Fireproof will likely reach $4M for the frame for a new cumeree of almost $12.5M. This is a massive success for filmmaker and Sherwood Baptist Church Associate Pastor Alex Kendrick considering that the movie was made for only $500,000 and all of the profit will be funneled back into the church ministries.
From the Godly to the godless as the Bill Maher doc Religulous (Lionsgate), a nihilistic filmmaking exercise if there ever was one, will probably crack the top 10 for the weekend. Maher attacks religion generally, and Christianity specifically, in this comic doc, and it has generated a surprisingly strong $1.1M, which should translate to an impressive $3.5M despite being on only 502 screens. That would be an impressive $6,900+ Per Theatre Average.
In a rather hodgepodge weekend of releases, the remaining three titles are all disappointments to varying degrees. Universal’s feel-good Flash of Genius, the real-life story of Robert Kearns, who invented the intermittent windshield wiper, had the invention stolen by Ford and then sued the auto giant, scored about $655 per screen on Friday for an $729,000 gross. With generally positive reviews (59 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and a cast including Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear, Golden Globe nominee Lauren Graham and Oscar nominee Alan Alda, Flash of Genius will still only reach $2.32M for the three-day, and it will miss the top 10 altogether.
Blindness (Miramax), the dismally-reviewed new movie from Oscar nominee Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener) stumbled to an embarrassing $740,000 Friday and, for the weekend, $2M and a dismal $1,185 PTA is in the cards. (You know you are in trouble when the National Association of the Blind is protesting your movie.) Meanwhile, MGM’s How To Lose Friends & Alienate People starring the always-funny Simon Pegg is a non-starter with just $456,000 on opening day and a projected $1.4M for the three-day. That is a weekend Per Theatre of just $801.
STUDIO THREE-DAY ESTIMATES
1. NEW - Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney) - $29M, $9,020 PTA, $29M cume
2. Eagle Eye (Dreamworks/Paramount) - $17.7M, $5,034 PTA, $54.6M cume
3. NEW - Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Sony) - $12M, $4,957 PTA, $12M cume
4. Nights in Rodanthe (Warner Bros) - $7.35M, $2,722 PTA, $25M cume
5. Appaloosa (Warner Bros) - $5M, $4,799PTA, $5.57M
6. Lakeview Terrace (Sony) - $4.5M, $1,748 PTA, $32.1M cume
7. Burn After Reading (Focus) - $4.08M, $1,703 PTA, $51.64M cume
8. Fireproof (IDP Films/Samuel Goldwyn) - $4.06M, $4,776 PTA, $12.5M cume
9. NEW- An American Carol (Vivendi) – $3.8M, $2,325 PTA, $3.8M cume
10. NEW – Religulous (Lionsgate) - $3.5M, $6,972 PTA, $3.5M cume
11. NEW - Flash of Genius (Universal) - $2.32M, $2,120 PTA, $2.32M cume
12. NEW – Blindness (Miramax) - $2M, $1,185 PTA, $2M cume
*NEW – How To Lose Friends & Alienate People (MGM) - $14M, $801 PTA, $1.4M cume