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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Music feuds have been going on since the beginning of music itself. It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to assume that Beethoven and Weber side-eyed each other constantly and Bach and Handel might've wanted to throw down, while Chopin thought all those fools were amateurs. One thing that’s for sure is that in an industry made up of huge talent and even huger egos, personalities are bound to clash, and the result is a global high school where the popular kids love to publicly ream each other out. While some egos don’t ever play well with others and are constantly fighting 10 people at a time (i.e. Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj), other celebs manage to put the blast behind them and actually grow up. Here are some super memorable and/or surprising music feuds that had us reaching for the popcorn.
Madonna vs Lady Gaga It’s no secret that the Lady Gaga machine is derived from just about every eccentric and original artist in the pop and art world, but Madonna was her foremost adversary. It’s not that Madonna is completely original herself, but what makes her stand out from other pop stars that copy her is that she always had a reason behind everything that she did and articulated those reasons well. Madonna is at her best when she’s throwing shade, and shade did she throw at her 2012 MDNA tour. While performing “Express Yourself,” Madonna made clear what everyone was thinking and melded Gaga’s “Born This Way” into her song, making the obvious similarities even more blatant. Dumping another 5 pounds of salt into Gaga’s wound, Madonna commented on “Born This Way” by stating, “What a wonderful way to redo my song.” Oh, Madonna – condescension is thy name.
Oasis vs Blur Oasis’ Gallagher brothers are 2 of the most outspoken (and, let’s face it, hilarious) celebrities in music. In the mid-90s, Oasis and Blur were at the top of their game, so it’s no surprise that some beef got cooked between the 2 bands. The upper-class, mod-ish Blur released “Country House” in 1995, only to have it go head-to-head with “Roll With It” by the ever-drunk, rowdy Oasis. Perpetuating the feud, Noel Gallagher famously stated that he wished Blur singer Damon Albarn and bassist Alex James would “get AIDS and die.” Though the feud cooled off as the years went by, the crowning, happy-ending moment of rock-stars-all-growed-up came earlier this year, when Gallgher got Albarn and Blur guitarist Graham Coxon to join him onstage at a charity show at London’s Royal Albert Hall, which is basically the equivalent of peace in the Middle East in the Britpop world.
Tupac vs Biggie While this music feud didn’t exactly have us reaching for the confections, it’s probably the most notorious (no pun intended) feud in music’s history, namely because both dudes got murdered. In the mid-90s, gangsta rap was at its peak, and after the 1994 robbery and shooting of Tupac (which Tupac blamed Biggie for), the rap game changed for good. Tupac’s once optimistic and socially-conscious style turned into a darker, more bitter image, rife with themes of violence and revenge. Tupac was eventually slain in September 1996 in Las Vegas, and Biggie was murdered less than a year later in a drive-by shooting. And yes, both murders are still unsolved.
Kid Rock vs Tommy Lee Ahhhh… middle-aged trashy drama. Kid Rock and Tommy Lee have so much in common that it would seem as though they’d be best friends. Instead, they ended up going at each other’s throats, all for the delicate flower that is Pamela Anderson. Kid Rock started dating Lee’s ex-wife in 2001 and though Anderson became Rock’s ex-wife as well shortly after, the tension between Rock and Lee didn’t die down. Conflicts boiled over at the 2007 MTV VMAS, with Rock apparently hearing Lee talk smack about him to P. Diddy. Rock walked over to Lee and slapped him, initiating a rocker brawl for the ages. Lee responded to the incident on his website, calling Rock “Kid Pebbles” and a “no career havin' country bumpkin.” Apparently, the 2 rockers are friends now. But will somebody think about Pamela?!
Eminem vs Mariah Carey This feud was surprising mostly because it was so unbelievably random. Apparently, the 2 megastars had hooked up to discuss songwriting for Carey’s 2001 album Charmbracelet, and although nothing came out of it musically, reports began to surface that the 2 were dating. For the next 8 years, the 2 kept exchanging barbs at each other, some subtle, some not-so-subtle. Eminem mentions Carey in at least 5 songs, while Carey kept quiet for the most part until 2009’s “Obsessed.” The weird thing is that Eminem seems to be pissed that Carey won’t acknowledge that they had a relationship, since she’s constantly acting as though they barely even hung out. Seriously, dude? You’re the best-selling rapper in the world and it's been over 10 years – get over it.
Dave Grohl vs Courtney Love Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and everyone’s favorite hot mess Courtney Love have never exactly been best friends, but sh*t got real in the last few years, with Love making a slew of allegations against Grohl. Since Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994, the two rockers have been fighting over Nirvana royalties and the use of Cobain’s image, but by 2012, Love had alleged that Grohl stole her money, was hated by Cobain, had a “gay” band, and had hit on Cobain and Love’s daughter. For the most part, Grohl took the high road (at least in public) and decided he’d rather tear her a new one through his songs. Just for the entertainment factor of Love’s psycho ramblings and the kickass music Grohl comes up with when he’s dissing her, this is one music feud that's genuinely entertaining.
Axl Rose vs The World Axl Rose basically hates everyone and we could make a list of his own top 10 feuds. He’s beefed with everyone from the Offspring, Motley Crue, Metallica, Nirvana, Slash, his own band, and even Tommy Hilfiger. And all of that doesn’t even take into account how many riots have been started because Rose couldn’t be bothered to finish (or start) his live sets and walked off stage instead. Rose solidified his douchiness in 2012 when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Releasing an open letter for Guns N’ Roses fans, the hall and “To Whom It May Concern,” Rose stated that there was no way in hell that he was going to come down for a band reunion and he doesn’t care what anyone has to say about that. According to him, “there isn’t room to consider a conversation let alone a reunion.” Ouch. But way to flip off the world!
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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.
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.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.