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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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Will it take a Hollywood production to alert the masses about the current oil crisis facing the world which leaves no person unaffected? Does Syriana have the makings to be such a wide-reaching film? Well probably not but it does make a noble stab at it. Much of the way through Syriana has the feel of a documentary although it ultimately falls into the pattern of the popular interwoven narratives that are so popular these days. Among the interwoven: A beleaguered CIA agent (George Clooney); a wary and inquisitive Washington lawyer (Jeffrey Wright); an opportunistic energy analyst (Matt Damon) and his wife (Amanda Peet) who have just lost their young son; and a Persian Gulf prince (Alexander Siddig) who helps China in an oil deal thus antagonizing the U.S. The cast assembled here includes some of this era's finest actors. That no single actor steals the show is mostly a testament to on-screen time split justly. Clooney is the big story here and he should be: Rare is the sex symbol superstar of his enormity who dares to don a gut and a beard as he does here. With his trademark physical attributes obscured Clooney's acting is allowed to shine and his character's tension is palpable. As for Wright the quintessential chameleon of an actor his performance is as flawless and brilliant as always. Damon provides a reliable turn but it's onscreen wife Peet who adds the truly raw emotion that the film lacks overall. Rounding out the ensemble are two under-appreciated stalwarts: Chris Cooper nailing the role of a shrewd oilman and Christopher Plummer perfectly cast as the head of a law firm. Stephen Gaghan has displayed his writing chops in the past—most famously in 2000's Traffic for which he won an Oscar—and he certainly has a solid mentor behind him in (executive producer) Steven Soderbergh. After making his directorial debut with the 2002 flop thriller Abandon he finds far better luck with this star-studded politically charged film having traveled the world to gain insight into Robert Baer’s book which serves as source material. Unfortunately Gaghan’s stirring documentary/handheld-cam filmmaking is contradicted by the overall convoluted feel of the movie which comes to a too-neat conclusion that leaves several characters hanging. Although Gaghan has a bold and daring take on a topical problem there's a reason a topic like this with so many disparate lives and ideas is not often tackled on the big screen: film is just not a vast enough medium.
Cattrall wrote sex book to allay female fears
Kim Cattrall wrote a sex book to allay female fears felt compelled to write a book about intimacy to demystify sex for women--and urge them not to panic of their partners are struggling to arouse them. The former Sex and the City actress, 48, teamed up with her then-husband Mark Levinson on Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm to inform others she didn't develop a strong sex drive until she reached her forties. Cattrall says, "Up until then I thought I wasn't a very sexual woman, although everyone assumed I was getting it in spades. I wanted to write the book because something had changed for me. I thought, 'My goodness, if that's my story, there must be lots of other women.'"
Hatcher ignores men for the sake of her daughter
Desperate Wives beauty Teri Hatcher has not had sex for four years and is in no hurry to snare a lover. The 40-year-old has remained celibate since splitting from husband Jon Tenney and has since devoted herself to raising their seven-year-old daughter Emerson Rose. And Hatcher found it easy to relate to her character on the hit US TV show--a sex-starved, single mother. She says, "There just isn't any space for it (sex). I don't have a boyfriend because I don't go out on dates. But it's OK - I'm not sad because of it."
Garner anxieties over always looking good
Jennifer Garner finds being in the spotlight "intimidating" and hates it when her appearance is analyzed. The Elektra actress, who is dating Ben Affleck, is overwhelmed by the pressure to turn up to celebrity galas and premieres in "cutting edge" garments. Jennifer Garner says, "I still feel intimidated by things such as film premieres. There's so much fuss about wearing the perfect dress. That can be intimidating. "I don't have the greatest fashion sense myself. Fashion taste is so much a thing of the moment that it's almost impossible to always be on the cutting edge. "I try to keep things simple and classic. I got some pretty good press for my Oscar dress last year, so now I need to do it again for the Globes and the Oscars."
Muslims upset by 24
An American-Islamic group has blasted the makers of Kiefer Sutherland's hit TV drama 24 after learning the first episode of the new season portrays a Muslim family as terrorists. Officials at the Council on American-Islamic Relations were made aware of the controversial episode after upset Muslims got hold of a promotional preview of the show, which airs next week. The council's spokeswoman Rabiah Ahmed says she's particularly disturbed by one scene, in which an American-Muslim teenager plots to kill Americans. She adds, "It casts a cloud of suspicion over every American Muslim family out there." Bosses at TV network Fox, who air the show, have yet to counter the comments.
Jolie and Farrell attraction almost led to romance
Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell were so close to becoming lovers they discussed the possibility of dating--but decided their personalities are too similar. The Alexanderco-stars were rumored to have started dating during the filming of the epic movie but Jolie claims they refrained from consummating their mutual attraction at the last moment. Jolie says, "Colin and I did discuss the idea of dating. He is a very interesting man and artist. "But we've also talked about how we're maybe too similar. So at this point we're just great friends."
Osbournes increase tsunami donation
Sharon Osbourne is so moved by the plight of the Asian tsunami disaster victim--she has pledged a donation of $190,000. The judge on British TV talent show X Factor initially donated $47,500, but decided to give more after watching endless "heartbreaking" news reports. Osbourne, who earned $13.3 million in 2004, says, "There are really no words to describe how devastated we are to see this unfold. This is just heartbreaking - donating money is the least we can do. We have been watching all the terrible news coverage and we wanted to give some more money. Our hearts go out to all those affected."
Branson: 'I dumped my waste on various nations'
Richard Branson had a unique way of showing his disapproval to nations who refused to allow his hot-air balloon in their air space--he dumped human waste on them. The Virgin tycoon has attempted to set a world record by flying around the world in a balloon numerous times without success, and on each occasion some countries turned down his route requests. Branson says, "We would find countries we most disliked as we were going around the world, and dump it over. So if anybody refused to allow us to fly over them, we ended up straying over by 'mistake' and they'd get our s**t. And the tycoon adds that he had to take extra care when visiting the toilet: There's a tiny tube and you have to be careful that you pull the right lever at the right time, or else your balls will get sucked straight out."
Grant gets passionate with Khan at New Year party
Hugh Grant stunned fellow partygoers by passionately kissing lover Jemima Khan in full view as they celebrated the New Year Caribbean-style. The Love Actually star and his socialite girlfriend left their $2,280-a-night villa at Barbados's Sandy Lane Hotel to party on the beach with other guests until 2am on Saturday morning. And the loved-up pair reportedly spent the romantic occasion kissing and embracing each other throughout the night. Meanwhile, Khan's sons from her nine-year marriage to cricket star Imran Khan celebrated the New Year with their father in Pakistan.
Driver's beachfront calm
Actress-turned-singer Minnie Driver loves living beside the ocean because it gives her the peace she needs to maintain her sanity. The Good Will Hunting star has a beachfront residence in Malibu, California, which she credits with helping her mentally recover after a challenging film shoot or promotional tour. She says, "I love surfing, there's something profoundly exhilarating and comforting about surfing, there's also a great peace and it's amazingly challenging. Between surfing, being with friends and making music, that's how I get healed. I don't think I would ever be able to live away from the sea again."
Star Wars star protests innocence over drunk driving
Star Wars R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker is challenging charges of drunk driving--claiming his asthma prevented him from agreeing to the breath test to determine the alcohol in his body. The 70-year-old vertically challenged actor, who played the robot in the 1977 movie, is relying on blood tests to clear him of reckless driving after he was stopped by police as he drove his Maroon Mercedes in Lancashire, England, on 17 December. Baker ended up being locked up for two hours until a doctor had carried out a blood test - after his asthma prevented him from blowing into the test bag. He says, "The police said they'd had reports from other motorists that I was veering all over the road. "I had gone for a drink after the show (Speed Dating), but only had one glass of wine. I am certain the tests will come back clear."
Beloved TV star dies
The Rocketeer star William Boyett has lost his life after a Christmas battle with pneumonia. He was 77. The beloved actor made his name on TV in America in detective shows like Dragnet and Adam-12. He got his start in show business after winning a high school Shakespeare competition, and he became a regular on radio in America. After serving in the Navy in World War II, he became a theatre star in New York and Los Angeles.
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