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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For Brazil, there will never be a novelist like Jorge Amado again.
Brazil's all-time best-selling author, Jorge Amado, whose novels praised the best of Brazil to readers across the globe, died Monday evening in the northeastern city of Salvador, Bahia. He was 88.
Mr. Amado, a diabetic whose health had been delicate for many years, died of a heart attack at around 7:30 p.m. local time, Reuters reports.
Mr. Amado was Brazil's best-selling author both at home and across the world, with 20 million volumes sold worldwide in nearly 50 languages.
"I am a writer who has written about the life of my people, the character of my people," Mr. Amado told Reuters in a 1995 interview. "What I can say is that the greatest hero of the Brazilian novel is the Brazilian people."
Amado's work was well known to Brazilians of all classes, thanks to adaptations of his novels for television soap operas and films, including Tieta do Agreste, Gabriela, and Dona Flor and her Two Husbands.
Among his most valued work are the 1958 novel Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, a story of a bar owner in Bahia's cocoa belt and the backwoods girl he takes as a servant and later becomes his lover.
His next big hit would be 1966's Dona Flor and her Two Husbands, which was made into a film in 1978, bringing actress Sonia Braga international stardom, grossing $20 million and becoming Brazil's biggest box office hit in the United States, according to The Associated Press.
Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso said Amado's characters became more famous and real than the author himself.
"What greater glory is there for a writer?,'' Cardoso said told the Brazilian TV Netowrk Rede Globo. "Jorge Amado's language was a Portuguese that seduced the five senses, full of colors, sounds, perfumes, flavors and textures.''
Such writers as Portugal's Jose Saramago and Peru's Mario Vargas Llosa lamented his death.
"Jorge Amado was one of the greatest writers of our time who made the Brazilian myth known on all five continents in all modern languages," Vargas Llosa told.
Portugal's former President Mario Soares, called him "one of the great figures in our language," Reuters reports.
Mr. Amado, who would have turned 89 on Friday, said he would like to be remembered as a sensual and romantic Bahian.
"I am like my characters - sometimes even the female ones," he said.
President Cardoso has declared the country to mourn the death of the author for three days, and all flags have to be lowered to honor his death.
The author is survived by his second wife Zelia Gattai, also a best-selling novelist, and two children, Paloma and Joao Jorge. His body lay in state in the Archbishop's Palace in Salvador, covered with red roses and white lilies and was later was cremated Tuesday.
Mr. Amado's ashes will be scattered at the foot of a mango tree in his home in Salvador, the capital the country's Afro-Brazilian culture.