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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Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
For a film that involves a love triangle, mental illness, a Bohemian colony of free-spirits, an impending war and several important historical figures, the most exciting elements of Summer in February are the stunning shots of the English country and Cornish seaside. The rest of the film never quite lives up to the crashing waves and sun-dappled meadows that are used to bookend the scenes, as the entertaining opening never manages to coalesce into a story that lives up the the cinematography, let alone the lives of the people that inspired it.
Set in an Edwardian artist’s colony in Cornwall, Summer in February tells the story of A.J. Munnings (Dominic Cooper), who went on to become one of the most famous painters of his day and head of the Royal Academy of Art, his best friend, estate agent and part-time soldier Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens), and the woman whom they both loved, aspiring artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). Her marriage to Munnings was an extremely unhappy one, and she attempted suicide on their honeymoon, before killing herself in 1914. According to his journals, Gilbert and Florence were madly in love, although her marriage and his service in the army kept them apart.
When the film begins, Munnings is the center of attention in the Lamorna Artist's Colony, dramatically reciting poetry at parties and charming his way out of his bar tab while everyone around him proclaims him to be a genius. When he’s not drinking or painting, he’s riding horses with Gilbert, who has the relatively thankless task of keeping this group of Bohemians in line. Their idyllic existence is disrupted by the arrival of Florence, who has run away from her overbearing father and the fiancé he had picked out for her in order to become a painter.
Stevens and Browning both start the film solidly, with enough chemistry between them to make their infatuation interesting. He manages to give Gilbert enough dependable charm to win over both Florence and the audience, and she presents Florence as someone with enough spunk and self-possession to go after what she wants. Browning’s scenes with Munnings are equally entertaining in the first third of the film, as she can clearly see straight through all of his bravado and he is intrigued by her and how difficult she is to impress. Unfortunately, while the basis of the love triangle is well-established and entertaining, it takes a sudden turn into nothing with a surprise proposal from Munnings.
Neither the film nor Browning ever make it clear why Florence accepts his proposal, especially when they have both taken great pains to establish that she doesn’t care much for him. But once she does, the films stalls, and both Stevens and Browning spend the rest of the film doing little more than staring moodily and longingly at the people around them. The real-life Florence was plagued by depression and mental instability, but neither the film nor Browning’s performance ever manage to do more than give the subtlest hint at that darkness. On a few occasions, Browning does manage to portray a genuine anguish, but rather than producing any sympathy from the audience, it simply conjures up images of a different film, one that focused more on Florence, and the difficulties of being a woman with a mental illness at a time when both were ignored or misunderstood.
Stevens is fine, and Gilbert starts out with the same kind of good-guy appeal the won the heart of Mary Crawley and Downton Abbey fans the world over. However, once the film stalls, so does his performance, and he quickly drops everything that made the character attractive or interesting in favor of longing looks and long stretches of inactivity. He does portray a convincing amount of adoration for Florence, although that's about the only real emotion that Gilbert expresses for the vast majority of the film, and even during his love scene, he never manages to give him any amount of passion.
Cooper does his best with what he’s given, and tries his hardest to imbue the film with some substance and drama. His Munnings is by turns charming, brash, and brooding, the kind of person who has been told all of their life that they are special, and believes it. He even manages to give the character some depth, and even though he and Browning have very little chemistry, he manages to convey a genuine affection for her. It’s a shame that Munnings becomes such a deeply unlikable character, because Cooper is the only thing giving Summer in February a jolt of life – even if it comes via bursts of thinly-explained hostility. It's hard to watch just how hard he's working to connect with his co-stars and add some excitement to a lifeless script and not wish that he had a better film to show off his talents in.
Unfortunately, by the time Florence and Gilbert are finally spurred into activity, the film has dragged on for so long that you’re no longer invested in the characters, their pain, or their love story, even if you want to be. Which is the real disappointment of Summer in February; underneath the stalled plot and the relatively one-note acting, there are glimmers of a fascinating and compelling story that’s never allowed to come to the forefront.
Phase 4 Films
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Iron Man 3, Man Of Steel -- 2013 was another big year for big movies. But it was also a great year for independent film as movies like Don Jon and Fruitvale Station received critical acclaim and much love from audiences everywhere. In one way or another, these were all great films, all deserving our attention. However, there are many smaller productions that didn't receive quite as much buzz, but still captured the hearts of many-a-moviegoer. In case you missed them, here are five indie films you definitely should have seen in 2013, but probably didn't.
Ain't Them Bodies Saints
If there ever was such a thing as a romantic crime drama, this would be it. A beautiful, searing, poetic Bonnie & Clyde-esque tale starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, direcor David Lowery's third feature film was easily one of the best films of the year.
The English Teacher
Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins, and Michael Angarano round out the fantastic cast in this one. The horrors of high school have been the basis for countless movies over the years, but in The English Teacher even the adults are like a bunch of horny adolescents. Oh, and the brilliant Nathan Lane plays the drama teacher you totally wish you'd had back in the day.
It's actually frustrating that this was not one of the more talked-about films of the year. Spike Lee called it "the #1 NYC movie of the year" and the bottom line is, Newlyweeds is absolute hilarious. We didn't know we were looking for a romantic stoner dramedy for the ages, but we're glad we got it.
Eden (or The Abduction of Eden)
An unfrogettable film based on the horrific true story of a teenaged girl who was kidnapped and sold into prostitution, Eden stars former MTV Real World star Jamie Chung. Chung proves herself to be a wholly capable actress with her performance alongside veterans like Beau Bridges and Tantoo Cardinal.
What Maisie Knew
Another great indie feature from Julianne Moore, the actress plays an aging rocker/neglectful mother, but the story is really shown through the expereinces of her daughter Maisie (played by Onata Aprile). Maisie becomes a pawn in the cruel games of her immature and irresponsible parents, but eventually finds familial love under some very strange circumstances. Oh, and then there's the Alexander Skarsgård aspect of it all.
Singer Neneh Cherry made an impressive comeback in London on Tuesday night (12Nov13) ahead of her first album release in 17 years. The Swedish star is gearing up to release a new record in early 2014, her first solo studio album since 1996's Man, and she marked her impending chart return by taking to the stage in front of a star-studded crowd in the U.K. capital.
Cherry played several old and new tracks at the bash to celebrate the first birthday of hotspot Sushi Samba at Heron Tower in front of celebrity guests including Leona Lewis, Alexa Chung, Mark Ronson and his DJ sister Samantha.
British pop star Mollie King is turning catwalk queen by joining the same model agency as Alexa Chung and Suki Waterhouse. Bosses at Next Models in London have added The Saturdays star to their books alongside a host of fashionable faces.
The blonde beauty says, "When I was approached by Next, I was so surprised, so excited. I feel really flattered to be placed alongside the names they already have, it's incredible. I'm used to having the girls around me, so it is a bit scary to be doing things on my own, but they were all so excited for me. I'm really looking forward to the next step."
As well as style icon Chung and Burberry model Waterhouse, who is dating Hollywood star Bradley Cooper, Next Models also represents singer King's fellow pop stars Rita Ora and Lana Del Rey, as well as model Alice Dellal.
King already has connections to the fashion world - she's previously dated top male model David Gandy.
TV presenter/socialite Alexa Chung is glad she took time away from dating after splitting from Arctic Monkeys rocker Alex Turner as she had no idea how to cope without a man in her life. The former MTV girl broke up with Turner in 2011 after four years together, and the romance had come hot on the heels of her three-and-a-half year relationship with photographer David Titlow.
Chung was left distraught by the split and has only allowed herself several casual flings since the break-up, because single life made her realise she did not even know how to change TV channels properly.
She tells Britain's The Guardian, "I'm not heartbroken any more, but I definitely was... It was various people. There was one big thing, and then there were various ill-advised flings I had to get over him, so yeah... But is this gross to talk about? I feel he wouldn't talk about it. I don't know how relevant it is now, whereas if you asked me at the time, 'How you doing?' No one even asked... But I don't know whether to be open and vulnerable about it and say, 'I had a s**t time', or to be quiet...
"But I don't want to imply he broke my heart. I was grieving for the loss of something... I'm grateful for the experience of that s**t time, and for being on my own. I'd never really been on my own before - I'd always gone from one relationship to the next - so I had to learn all this stupid stuff. Like, how do I work my f**king TV? And now there isn't a dude to tell me how to put up the blinds. But it's good to learn how to work your way round a drill."
However, Chung reveals she still remains close to Turner, adding, "Oh yeah, he's my best friend."
Model and TV host Alexa Chung is to launch a makeup line. Chung, who is also a contributing editor for British Vogue, is teaming up with Eyeco to advise the brand on products. She'll also feature in the firm's ad campaign.
She says, "It's a creative relationship. I send images and different inspirations to Max and Nina (the creators of Eyeco) and we go from there. It's quite free form at the moment."
The line will be out in November and will feature a limited edition liquid eye liner and mascara set bearing Chung's name and art.
She continues, "Liquid liner is my savior. Other people like other things to feel like they look normal, but for me, I'm pretty much naked without my eyeliner on. It's my comfort blanket."
British TV host Alexa Chung still suffers "flashbacks" from her days as a teen model when she was allegedly forced to strip off in front of strangers to land jobs. The small screen star launched her career as a fashion model and admits she often had to take off all her clothes at castings in a bid to win work.
However, Chung insists she "knew it was wrong" to be asked to strip, but never told her parents about what was going on.
She tells Britain's The Times, "I never really asked my mum or my dad's advice during that time and it actually felt like I didn't want to tell them too much about the reality of what was going on - when I was taking the train to London and being asked to do certain things. I already knew it was wrong. So, you know, if there was a casting where some creepy man there had gone on to his flat in Ilford (in Essex, England), and (said), you know, 'Take your clothes off...' and if I'd have done it, I won't tell my mum because I know that's wrong.
"Well, you had lots of castings where they were like, 'This is for swimwear', and in hindsight, I look back and think, 'Did you really need an 18-year-old girl to strip in your front room?'
"I get flashbacks now. Loads of flashbacks. I'll be reminded of something because I've sort of blocked it out and I don't really think of those days. Like, recently, I was like, "Oh my God. That's so not on.'"
Sarah Jessica Parker and Anne Hathaway helped to raise more than $2 million (£1.3 million) for the U.K. art community at a New York City gala on Wednesday (08May13). The Sex and the City star served as an honorary chair for the Tate Americas Foundation Triennial Artists Dinner, which was held to generate support for The Tate, a network of four museums in the U.K. housing British, international and contemporary art.
Parker admitted she was thrilled to get involved with the fundraiser as she loves visiting the museum every time she jets into London.
She tells GuestOfAGuest.com, "I love this museum. I have a routine. I get off the plane in London, and I drop my suitcase at the hotel, and I go immediately to the Tate. It started years and years ago, and I can't explain it. It's inexplicable. Why do we love a boy? Why do we love a book? Why do I love the Tate? I don't know. It's just a wonderful, exciting place to see old works and new works and I've always had this great affection for it. I think it's amazing, and everyone I know that steps into that museum is always thrilled by what they see - young and old."
R&B star Ciara, British TV host Alexa Chung and Martha Stewart also showed up to mingle with artists and benefactors at the glitzy event. Profits will be used to acquire new artwork for The Tate.