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.
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
Today we say goodbye to legendary Hollywood producer, Sherwood Schwartz, who died in his sleep in Los Angeles at the age of 94 while surrounded by his family. Most of us will remember him by his work in television classics such as The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island. Originally from New Jersey, Schwartz moved cross country to Southern California where he began writing jokes for Bob Hope's radio program where his brother, Al Schwartz, was working. In time he transitioned from radio to television and in 1961 he won an Emmy as a writer for comedian Red Skelton. One of his greatest accomplishments came only a few years later when he created Gilligan’s Island, which only lasted a few years but continues to be watched many generations later (thank goodness for re-runs). Shortly after that in 1969 he debuted his iconic TV series The Brady Bunch, which lasted until 1974 and established Schwartz as a true Hollywood gem. He was even honored with his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 7, 2008. And that's the way we all became The Sherwood Bunch.
Schwartz is survived by his wife of 69 years (might be a Hollywood record), Mildred Schwartz, and four children. Rest in piece Mr. Schwartz -- a part of you will live forever through your many wonderful contributions to the entertainment industry.
Source: Radar Online
Studio bosses have greenlighted a new movie based on the popular sitcom, which aired on TV between 1964 and 1967.
Casting details have yet to be announced but, in an interview last year (09), original series creator Sherwood Schwartz suggested Juno star Michael Cera should play the title role, made famous by Bob Denver, in any remake.
Reeve's animated feature moves forward
Yankee Irving, a computer-animated feature film that Christopher Reeve had been directing at the time of his death last weekend, will remain in production, producer Morris Berger told The Associated Press yesterday. But Berger said IDT Entertainment had not yet decided who will take over as director. "We've just been addressing personal issues and the great loss and reassuring our staff that the production will go on," he said. "Tomorrow we'll think those things through." Yankee Irving is about a father and his baseball playing son who overcomes personal obstacles to realize his dreams. Reeve, who had overseen the project for the past year, once described it as "captivating, with the perfect blend of warmth and wit." Reeve had been overseeing the film's production from his home office in Pound Ridge, N.Y., through a videoconferencing system set up by IDT, and regularly sent electronic files of character designs and animatics filled with notes to the company's animation production offices. Voice casting and theatrical distribution for Yankee, which is scheduled for release sometime in 2006, have yet to be announced. The Superman star died Sunday after suffering a heart attack and slipping into a coma the previous day. He was 52.
FCC to fine Fox for indecency violation
The Federal Communications Commission is reportedly preparing to levy a $1 million fine against Fox Broadcasting Co. and its affiliates for indecency violations dating back to April 2003 with an episode of the reality show Married by America, Reuters reports. According to Monday's edition of Television Week, the content in question involved lascivious banter among Married contestants and a segment that involved contestants licking whipped cream off each other's bodies. The weekly newspaper reported the fine stemmed from a complaint lodged by watchdog group the Parents Television Council. The fine comes less than a month after the FCC formally issued its $550,000 fine against CBS for Janet Jackson breast-baring incident during the Super Bowl telecast in February 2003.
Travolta to guest star on Alley's Fat Actress
Kirstie Alley, whose upcoming Showtime series Fat Actress is set to debut in March, will be in good company. The AP reports Alley's Look Who's Talking co-star John Travolta will make a guest appearance on the seven-episode, unscripted comedy series. Based on Alley's real-life struggles, the show follows a semi-fictional film and TV star as she comically contends with an unforgiving public and media over her struggles with weight. The actors will largely improvise based on a story outline. Travolta joins several guest stars slated for the reality hybrid, including his own actress wife, Kelly Preston, NBC Universal TV Group President Jeff Zucker and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper's Mark Curry.
Democrats want anti-Kerry docu shelved
The Democratic Party is expected to file a complaint today with the Federal Election Commission against the broadcasting company Sinclair Broadcast Group for their plans to air a documentary criticizing presidential candidate John Kerry, the AP reports. Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, made by Vietnam veteran and former journalist Carlton Sherwood, chronicles Kerry's 1971 testimony before Congress and includes interviews with Vietnam prisoners of war and their wives, who claim Kerry's testimony demeaned them and led their captors to hold them longer. Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe argues Sinclair is acting as a mouthpiece for the Republican Party rather than a legitimate news outlet. Campaign finance records show that company's executives have donated thousands of dollars to Bush's campaign.
Cates to take on Academy Awards again
Gil Cates has signed on to produce next year's Academy Awards, making it his 12th time behind the star-studded Hollywood bash, AP reports. "With 11 shows under his belt, no other producer, living or dead, even comes close to the depth of Gil's experience," said Frank Pierson, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "We're lucky to have him back." Cates added, "I already have ideas whirling around in my head and can't wait to see them through to fruition on Oscar night." The 77th Academy Awards will be preceded by the telecast of the Academy's official pre-show red carpet arrivals from 5 to 5:30 p.m., which Cates will also executive produce.
Apprentice Troy McClain shopping for a college
Troy McClain, who was fired by Donald Trump during the first season of the TV reality show The Apprentice, is currently fielding offers from several colleges and universities, including Boise State, Columbia University and Albertson College of Idaho. McClain, who was one of the most successful and popular members on the inaugural season of The Apprentice, later said on his Tonight Show appearance it was his lack of a college degree eventually did him in. Trump heard his comment and offered to send McClain to the college of his choice. "This man, with an education, will be unbeatable," Trump said at the time. McClain started looking hard at Boise State after President Bob Kustra contacted him personally over the summer, his manager Ed Moore told the AP.
Madonna, Prince top Billboard touring awards
Madonna is one of the top finalist for Billboard's Backstage Pass Awards, which recognizes top achievements in touring and are based on ticket sales tabulated in Billboard's Boxscore Reports, LaunchMusic reports. Other finalists include Prince, Shania Twain, Josh Groban, Linkin Park and John Mayer. The awards will be presented Nov. 8 and 9 in New York.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.