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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Peter O'Toole, one of the most talented, charismatic, and esteemed actors of any generation, died on Saturday at the age of 81. With his charm and classical training, he starred in a great deal of the most famous and well-regarded films in history, and was nominated for 8 Oscars over the course of his career. Although he holds the record for the most nominations without a win, he was awarded with an Honorary Oscar in 2003, which cemented his role as one of the greatest film actors of all time. Over his 60-year career, he played a great number of iconic roles. Some of them only became cinematic icons after he brought them to live onscreen. Others are the kind of literary, historical, or theatrical icons that are reserved for only the most esteemed of actor, but all of them will forever be remembered as part of O'Toole's long, storied career.
In remembrance of the late, great actor, we've rounded up all Peter O'Toole's most iconic film characters.
T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of ArabiaArguably the most famous and iconic role that O’Toole ever played, the British military commander T.E. Lawrence earned the actor the first of his eight Oscar nominations and made him a household name. With a performance that perfectly captured the complex and divisive nature of his character and still managed to ground the epic scale of the film, it’s no wonder that O’Toole will always be more closely associated with Lawrence's story than even the actual historical figure is. Although he was the first of many more significant and memorable roles to come, Lawrence of Arabia will forever be the iconic Peter O’Toole performance.
Henry II, The Lion in Winter It takes a significant amount of talent and charisma to steal a scene away from Katherine Hepburn, but as Henry II, the aging king who refuses to leave his kingdom to either of his sons, O’Toole turns a major theatrical and historical figure into a cinematic icon. It was actually the second time that O’Toole took on Henry II, having played a younger version of the monarch a few years earlier in Becket, and that experience with the character seems to have served him well in delivering another unforgettable performance.
Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha O’Toole actually played several characters in this musical, including the author himself, Miguel De Cervantes, but it’s his portrayal of the knight-errant who is unable to tell reality from fiction that stands out as the truly iconic role. Don Quixote is one of the most famous literary characters of all time, and O’Toole perfectly blends the tragedy and comedy of his character to wonderfully bring him to life on the big screen, and ensures that his Don Quixote will forever be remembered as just as much of an icon as the character in Cervantes’ story.
Robinson Crusoe, Man FridayAlthough one of his lesser known films, O’Toole puts his own stamp on the famous character of Robinson Crusoe, the English explorer stranded on a deserted island. The film is designed to subvert many of the messages of the original Daniel Defoe novel, which allows O’Toole to switch things up and play a stiff, blunt, overly-proper Englishman, and showcase the range of his talent. It might not be as epic or dramatic as some of his other iconic roles, but in Man Friday, O’Toole is able to interpret another famous literary character in a new unique way while still delivering an incredible, memorable performance.
Sherlock HolmesThere is perhaps no literary hero more iconic than Sherlock Holmes, so it is perfectly fitting that O’Toole took on the role for several animated films in 1983. It’s a testament to O’Toole’s talent that despite only providing his voice for the character, he is still considered to be a vital part of the long, great tradition of esteemed English actors who have undertaken the task of bringing the world’s only consulting detective to life on screen. Fun fact: O’Toole also played Sherlock Holmes’ author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle just over a decade later, in the film FairyTale: A True Story.
Professor Henry Higgins, Pygmalion For a television adaptation of Pygmalion, O’Toole took on another role reserved for the most esteemed of actors when he played Professor Henry Higgins in 1983. Like Sherlock Holmes, his interpretation of the iconic professor will long be considered to be one of the greatest, an opinion which he solidified by reprising the role three years later on Broadway.
Zaltar, Supergirl Yes, O’Toole was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Actor for his role in Supergirl, but it says something about O’Toole’s talent and dedication that he still earns award nominations for what is widely considered to be his worst film. Despite this, he managed to make Zaltar an iconic character purely by portraying him onscreen, and also helped prove that just because an actor is both English and held in the highest of esteem, it doesn’t mean that casting him in your superhero film will automatically improve its clout and quality.
Augustus Caesar, Imperium: Augustus O’Toole took on the Roman emperor in 2003 when he played Augustus Caesar in the television movie Imperium: Agustus. The Caesar kin are the kind of iconic historical figures who are always played by the greatest actors of their day. Performers with enough talent and respect to make them almost as famous and iconic as the emperor they are portraying. It’s only fair that O’Toole get his shot at the role, and took on Caesar as an old, aged man, looking back on the glory days of his life.
Anton Ego, RatatouilleSure, Ratatouille might not be on quite the same level as Lawrence of Arabia, but Pixar creates iconic characters in much the same way that giant, sweeping epics do, and when it comes to Pixar villains (or would-be villains), Anton Ego is among the finest. As the snooty, rude, condescending food critic, O’Toole helped to create a character that will make children cower in fear, all the while laughing at his humorous affect. Plus, as one of the few Pixar villains who changes over the course of the film, O’Toole also assisted in creating a character who is just as multi-dimensional as the ones he played in live-action films.
David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.