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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Who could have guessed that navigating the Great White Way would be more challenging than the Narrow Sea? After receiving generally negative reviews from critics and disappointing ticket sales (despite attendance from some peeping creepers on opening night) the Broadway adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's, featuring Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke as charming leading lady Holly Golightly, is ending on Sunday, April 21.
According to the Associated Press, the show — which began previews on March 4 and just opened on March 20 — was originally slated to run until August 25 (according to the Cort Theater, which is where the show is currently running in New York City) but it was announced on Tuesday that the curtain would be closing much sooner than that. The AP reports, "It will have played 17 preview and 38 regular performances ... For the week ending April 7, the show managed to take in just $337,621, or 38 percent of its $896,290 potential. The theater was also half full." And with that, Clarke will go from having a feline as her main companion back to those coveted dragons.
Of course, having a big name attached to a Broadway production doesn't mean critics and audiences will flock to it. Recently, David Mamet's The Anarchist failed to meet expectations and Hands on a Hardbody (which featured music from Phish frontman Trey Anastasio) closed after 28 previews and 28 regular performances and weak ticket sales. While Scarlett Johansson's limited engagement run in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof closed as planned on March 30 and Tom Hanks' limited engagement debut in Lucky Guy is set to run through June 16, they were hardly the runaway Broadway powerhouses they could have been thanks to mixed reviews.
Hey, that's showbiz, Daenerys.
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The 2013 Critics Choice Movie Awards were chock full of wonderful surprises, including two for a wonderfully surprised Ben Affleck. The actor/director, who was notably snubbed for an Oscar nomination earlier in the day, walked away with the CMMA for Best Director and his film Argo won Best Picture. A stunned Affleck jokingly opened his speech with "I'd like to thank the Academy..."
The other big winner of the night was David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, which won four awards, including Best Comedy and its stars Jennifer Lawrence (who won three awards total at the ceremony) and Bradley Cooper who both won in their respective Best Actress and Actor in a Comedy categories. The film won the most CCMAs, which could give it some momentum going into the Oscars. Its biggest rival Lincoln, had record-breaking 13 CCMA nods, but only won three for Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Score.
Other highlights of the ceremony, which was hosted by entertainment maven Sam Rubin, included an emotional Best Actress winner Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) who gave credit to director Kathryn Bigelow and a charming moment by Best Young Actress winner Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) who read her speech off her cell phone. Check out the full list of the 18th Annual Critics Choice Movie Awards below. BEST PICTUREWINNER: ArgoBeasts of the Southern WildDjango UnchainedLes MisérablesLife of PiLincolnThe MasterMoonrise KingdomSilver Linings PlaybookZero Dark Thirty BEST ACTORBradley Cooper – Silver Linings PlaybookWINNER: Daniel Day-Lewis – LincolnJohn Hawkes – The SessionsHugh Jackman – Les MisérablesJoaquin Phoenix – The MasterDenzel Washington – Flight BEST ACTRESSWINNER: Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark ThirtyMarion Cotillard – Rust and BoneJennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings PlaybookEmmanuelle Riva – AmourQuvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern WildNaomi Watts – The Impossible BEST SUPPORTING ACTORAlan Arkin – ArgoJavier Bardem – SkyfallRobert De Niro – Silver Linings PlaybookWINNER: Philip Seymour Hoffman – The MasterTommy Lee Jones – LincolnMatthew McConaughey – Magic Mike BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESSAmy Adams – The MasterJudi Dench – SkyfallAnn Dowd – ComplianceSally Field – LincolnWINNER: Anne Hathaway – Les MisérablesHelen Hunt – The Sessions BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESSElle Fanning – Ginger & RosaKara Hayward – Moonrise KingdomTom Holland – The ImpossibleLogan Lerman – The Perks of Being a WallflowerSuraj Sharma – Life of PiWINNER: Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild BEST ACTING ENSEMBLEArgoThe Best Exotic Marigold HotelLes MisérablesLincolnMoonrise KingdomWINNER: Silver Linings Playbook BEST DIRECTORWINNER: Ben Affleck – ArgoKathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark ThirtyTom Hooper – Les MisérablesAng Lee – Life of PiDavid O. Russell – Silver Linings PlaybookSteven Spielberg – Lincoln BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAYWINNER: Quentin Tarantino – Django UnchainedJohn Gatins – FlightRian Johnson – LooperPaul Thomas Anderson – The MasterWes Anderson & Roman Coppola – Moonrise KingdomMark Boal – Zero Dark Thirty BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAYChris Terrio – ArgoDavid Magee – Life of PiWINNER: Tony Kushner – LincolnStephen Chbosky – The Perks of Being a WallflowerDavid O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook BEST CINEMATOGRAPHYLes Misérables – Danny CohenWINNER: Life of Pi – Claudio MirandaLincoln – Janusz KaminskiThe Master – Mihai Malaimare Jr.Skyfall – Roger Deakins BEST ART DIRECTIONWINNER: Anna Karenina – Sarah Greenwood/Production Designer; Katie Spencer/Set DecoratorThe Hobbit – Dan Hennah/Production Designer; Ra Vincent & Simon Bright/Set DecoratorsLes Misérables – Eve Stewart/Production Designer; Anna Lynch-Robinson/Set DecoratorLife of Pi – David Gropman/Production Designer; Anna Pinnock/Set DecoratorLincoln – Rick Carter/Production Designer; Jim Erickson/Set Decorator BEST EDITINGArgo – William GoldenbergLes Misérables – Melanie Ann Oliver and Chris DickensLife of Pi – Tim SquyresLincoln – Michael KahnWINNER: Zero Dark Thirty – William Goldenberg and Dylan Tichenor BEST COSTUME DESIGNWINNER: Anna Karenina – Jacqueline DurranCloud Atlas – Kym Barrett and Pierre-Yves GayraudThe Hobbit – Bob Buck, Ann Maskrey and Richard TaylorLes Misérables – Paco DelgadoLincoln – Joanna Johnston BEST MAKEUPWINNER: Cloud AtlasThe HobbitLes MisérablesLincoln BEST VISUAL EFFECTSThe AvengersCloud AtlasThe Dark Knight RisesThe HobbitWINNER: Life of Pi BEST ANIMATED FEATUREBraveFrankenweenieMadagascar 3ParaNormanRise of the GuardiansWINNER: Wreck-It Ralph BEST ACTION MOVIEThe AvengersThe Dark Knight RisesLooperWINNER: Skyfall BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION MOVIEChristian Bale – The Dark Knight RisesWINNER: Daniel Craig – SkyfallRobert Downey Jr. – The AvengersJoseph Gordon-Levitt – LooperJake Gyllenhaal – End of Watch BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIEEmily Blunt – LooperGina Carano – HaywireJudi Dench – SkyfallAnne Hathaway – The Dark Knight RisesWINNER: Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games BEST COMEDYBernieWINNER: Silver Linings PlaybookTedThis Is 4021 Jump Street BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDYJack Black – BernieWINNER: Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings PlaybookPaul Rudd – This Is 40Channing Tatum – 21 Jump StreetMark Wahlberg – Ted BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDYMila Kunis – TedWINNER: Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings PlaybookShirley MacLaine – BernieLeslie Mann – This Is 40Rebel Wilson – Pitch Perfect BEST SCI-FI/HORROR MOVIEThe Cabin in the WoodsWINNER: LooperPrometheus BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILMWINNER: AmourThe IntouchablesA Royal AffairRust and Bone BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATUREBullyThe Central Park FiveThe ImposterThe Queen of VersaillesWINNER: Searching for Sugar ManWest of Memphis BEST SONG“For You” – performed by Keith Urban/written by Monty Powell & Keith Urban – Act of Valor“Learn Me Right” – performed by Birdy with Mumford & Sons/written by Mumford & Sons – BraveWINNER: “Skyfall” – performed by Adele/written by Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth – Skyfall“Still Alive” – performed by Paul Williams/written by Paul Williams – Paul Williams Still Alive“Suddenly” – performed by Hugh Jackman/written by Claude-Michel Schonberg & Alain Boublil & Herbert Kretzmer – Les Misérables BEST SCOREArgo – Alexandre DesplatLife of Pi – Mychael DannaWINNER: Lincoln – John WilliamsThe Master – Jonny GreenwoodMoonrise Kingdom – Alexandre Desplat Louis XIII Genius Award: Judd Apatow [Photo credit: Photo Credit: Tiffany Rose/WireImage] More: ‘Lincoln’, ‘Les Misérables’ Lead 18th Annual Critics Choice Movie Awards Nominations2013 Golden Globes: 'Lincoln,' 'Argo' Lead Movie Nominations. See the Full List Here!2013 Oscar Nominations: See the Full List of Nominees Here!From Our Partners: Megan Fox’s 12 Hottest Moments (Moviefone) Ryan Gosling’s ‘Airbrushed’ Abs: Plus 19 More Reasons We Love the Actor (Moviefone)
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 first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.