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.
Hedy Lamarr, the "world's most beautiful woman" whose sexually provocative performances made her a glamour queen of Hollywood's Golden Age, has died at her home outside Orlando, Fla., police said. She was 86.
Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler on Nov. 9, 1913, in Vienna, Austria, Lamarr was the only child of rich parents and grew up with a private tutor, high society parties and constant travel. The dark-haired actress first gained notoriety for her role in ``Ecstasy,'' a European film that featured a naked Lamarr swimming and running through the woods and suggestive close-ups of her face during lovemaking, both of which were sensational at the time.
Soon thereafter, Lamarr married Friedrich Mandl, a wealthy munitions dealer who tried unsuccessfully to buy up and burn all copies of the film.
She took her pseudonym (borrowing the surname of silent-screen star Barbara Lamarr) in 1937, when she went to Hollywood and signed with Louis B. Mayer's Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio. Mayer wanted to make her the greatest star of all time, but some of her early pictures such as "Lady of the Tropics'' (1939) and "I Take This Woman'' (1940) flopped.
In 1949, she made her biggest hit, Cecil B. De Mille's ``Samson and Delilah," in which she displayed a bold sexuality that was uncommon for actresses of her era. In all, she played in more than a dozen films alongside Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart and Judy Garland. And, with her dark hair parted in the center and her marble-white complexion, Lamarr is often remembered as the actress who broke through the mold of platinum-blond stereotypes.
Unknown to many, Lamarr also made a key contribution to the U.S. war effort against Nazi Germany. Amazingly, Lamarr worked with her friend, the composer George Antheil (who had experimented with mechanical music), to patent a "Secret Communications System" to help Allied submarines elude radio-jamming techniques employed by the Nazis -- techniques that Lamarr had become familiar with during her years with her ex-husband, the munitions man.
Lamarr's movie career has sometimes been overshadowed by her tumultuous love life (she was married six times) and various scandals, most notably a 1966 arrest in which it was alleged that she stole an $85 pair of slippers. She was cleared of the charges, but that same year, her autobiography "Ecstasy and Me," which was actually penned by a ghostwriter, was published and further tarnished her image. The book gave unsavory details about her love life, even suggesting she was a nymphomaniac.
Lamarr successfully sued the publisher for misrepresentation, then withdrew from the public eye, saying the book "ruined my career and life." She was arrested again in Florida for shoplifting, this time for stealing $21.48 worth of laxatives and eyedrops. The charges were again dropped, and her lawyer said that both cases were simply a question of ``absentmindedness.''
Lamarr reportedly spent her last years playing the stock market, spending time with grandchildren and watching television, refusing repeated requests from journalists for interviews. In recent years, she also filed two lawsuits, one against a software company and the other against a winery, over unauthorized use of her image.
Lamarr's lawyer, Michael McDonnell, said she had suffered no illness or hospital stays recently. "She had the burdens of old age, but she was sharp as a tack and always able to care for herself," McDonnell said.
"She was always, to me, the quintessential movie star. She walked with her head high, and she was very beautiful, even in her old age."