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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Walt Disney Studios
The recent release of Lana Del Rey's delightfully creepy cover of "Once Upon A Dream" got me ruminating on hypothetical Disney covers. Of course, many exist already: Demi Lovato's "Let it Go," Christina Aguilera's "Reflection," and my personal favorite, Fiona Apple's "Sally's Song." But lucky for us, there are still plenty of Disney songs in need of high-profile covers. Here are a few to get you started:
"A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes," as sung by Lorde
This old-school Disney tune (Cinderella, 1950) evokes the sound of retro crooners like Judy Garland and Cass Elliot, but who could take a fresh spin on it these days? Lorde. Her signature rasp would contrast nicely with the champagne-bubble optimism of the song.
"Feed the Birds," as sung by Regina Spektor
Come on, wouldn't it be cool? Spektor's voice is so mercurial; she seems to flit seamlessly between opposite sides of the emotional spectrum in an instant – at turns both melancholy and euphoric. Her ultra-expressive style and her clear-as-a-bell voice fit this song to a T.
"Gaston," as sung by Nathan Fillion
From his turn as Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, we know that no one plays a self-involved bravissimo-filled beefcake quite like Fillion – he'd make a perfect Gaston, and I'd pay hard cash to see him do it.
"I Won't Say I'm In Love," as sung by Florence Welch
Florence Welch may just be too cool for Disney. But, if she were to do a cover, I'd love to see her do some sort of love ballad. Her rock-tinged voice could make even the dorkiest Disney song sound cool, and I'd love to hear her croon out Hercules fan-favorite "I Won't Say I'm In Love." She's certainly got the attitude to play Meg!
What Disney covers do you want to see? Share in the comments!
Tony Martin, a smooth-voiced baritone who found success in Hollywood on the nightclub stage and on the radio during his 80 year career, passed away of natural causes Friday night at his home in West Los Angeles, the New York Times reports. He was 98.
Martin was born Alvin Morris in San Francisco on December 25, 1913 to Hattie and Edward Clarence Morris, well-off Jewish immigrants from Poland. While his parents wanted him to be a lawyer, Martin followed his dreams to Hollywood in the 1930s. His classic looks and great voice quickly earned him roles in musicals, starting with a small role in the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' film Follow the Fleet in 1936.
Once his Hollywood career got rolling, there was no stopping Martin. He went on to star in films such as Sing, Baby, Sing (1936), Zeigfeld Girl (1941) — in which he serenaded Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, and Lana Turner in a Busby Berkeley number — and Casbah (1948).
While Martin's face filled the silver screen his voice took over the radio air waves. His soulful take on popular ballads such as "I'm With You" (1936) and the Oscar-nominated "For Every Man There's a Woman" (1948), earned him his reputation as a charming crooner. Martin became a regular on the radio show The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and then hosted his own 15-minute variety program, The Tony Martin Show, on NBC from 1954 to 1956.
In his personal life, Martin proved equally charismatic. He wooed Hollywood starlets including Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, and Alice Faye (to whom Martin was married from 1937-1940). In 1948, Martin wed actress/dancer Cyd Charisse. Their marriage lasted 60 years, until she passed away at age 83 in 2008.
Martin, who is survived by his stepson and two grandchildren, will be remembered as a man who truly defined Old Hollywood class.
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[Photo Credit: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images]
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The singer, cabaret and movie star is perhaps best known for his longtime collaboration with his wife Cyd Charisse and his role in 1948 film classic Casbah.
Martin's career took off in the 1930s as he made a name for himself as a film star and crooner, with hits like Stranger in Paradise, Fools Rush In and Begin the Beguine. On the big screen, his hit movies included Pigskin Parade and 1941's Ziegfeld Girl, opposite Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr and Lana Turner.
When his film and pop career started faltering in the early 1960s, he began touring with Charisse in a cabaret act.
The couple performed together for 40 years and when Charisse died in 2008, Martin continued to hit the stage.
Born Alvin Morris on Christmas Day (25Dec), 1913, Martin is the only person who can boast four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Flowers were placed on his North Vine Street star, in front of the Capitol Records Building, on Monday afternoon (30Jul12).
The entertainer died on Friday (27Jul12).
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.