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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The trailers for Hope Springs might lead you to believe it's a romantic comedy about a couple trying to jumpstart their sexless marriage but it causes more empathetic cringing than chuckles. Audiences will be drawn to Hope Springs by its stars Meryl Streep Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell and Streep's track record of pleasing summer movies like Julie & Julia and Mamma Mia! that offer a respite from the blockbusters flooding theaters. Despite what its marketing might have you believe Hope Springs isn't a rom-com. The film is a disarming mixture of deeply intimate confessions by a married couple in the sanctuary of a therapist's office awkwardly honest attempts by that couple to physically reconnect and incredibly sappy scenes underscored by intrusive music. Boldly addressing female desire especially in older women it's hard not to give the movie extra credit for what writer Vanessa Taylor's script is trying to convey and its rarity in mainstream film. The ebb and flow of intimacy and desire in a long-term relationship is what drives Hope Springs and while there are plenty contrived moments and unresolved issues it is frankly surprising and surprisingly frank. It's a summer release from a major studio with high caliber stars aimed squarely at the generally underserved 50+ audience addressing the even more taboo topic of that audience's sex life.
Streep plays Kay a suburban wife who's deeply unsatisfied emotionally and sexually by her marriage to Arnold. Arnold who is played by Tommy Lee Jones as his craggiest sleeps in a separate bedroom now that their kids have left the nest; he's like a stone cold robot emotionally and physically and Kay tiptoes around trying to make him happy even as he ignores her every gesture. One of the most striking scenes in the movie is at the very beginning when Kay primps and fusses over her modest sleepwear in the hopes of seducing her husband. Streep makes it obvious that this isn't an easy thing for Kay; it takes all her guts to try and wordlessly suggest sex to her husband and when she's shot down it hurts to watch. This isn't a one time disconnect between their libidos; this is an ongoing problem that leaves Kay feeling insecure and undesirable.
After a foray into the self-help section of her bookstore Kay finds a therapist who holds week-long intensive couples' therapy sessions in Good Hope Springs ME and in a seemingly unprecedented moment of decisiveness she books a trip for the couple. Arnold of course is having none of it but he eventually comes along for the ride. That doesn't mean he's up for answering any of Dr. Feld's questions though. To be fair Dr. Feld (Carell) is asking the couple deeply intimate questions so if Arnold is comfortable foisting his amorous wife off with the excuse he had pork for lunch it's not so far-fetched to believe he'd be angry when Feld asks him about his fantasy life or masturbation habits.
Although Arnold gets a pass on some of his issues Kay is forthright about why and how she's dissatisfied. When Dr. Feld asks her if she masturbates she says she doesn't because it makes her too sad. Kay offers similar revelations; she's willing to bare it all to revive her marriage while Arnold thinks the fact that they're married at all means they must be happy. Carell's Dr. Feld is soothing and kind (even a bit bland) but it's always a pleasure to see him play it straight.
It's subversive for a mega-watt star to play a character that talks about how sexually unsatisfied she is and how unsexy she feels with the man she loves most in the world. The added taboo of Kay and Arnold's age adds that much more to the conversation. Kay and Arnold's attempts at intimacy are emotionally raw and hard to watch. Even when things get funny they're mostly awkward funny not ha-ha funny.
The rest of the movie is a little uneven wrapped up tightly and happily by the end. Their time spent soul-searching alone is a little cheesy especially when Kay ends up in a local bar where she gets a little dizzy on white wine while dishing about her problems to the bartender (Elisabeth Shue). Somewhere along the line what probably started out as a character study ended up as a wobbly drama that pushes some boundaries but eventually lets everyone off the emotional hook in favor of a smoothed-over happy ending. Still its disarming moments and performances almost balance it out. Although its target audience might be dismayed to find it's not as light-hearted as it would seem Hope Springs offers up the opportunity for discussion about sexuality and aging at a time when books and films like 50 Shades of Grey and Magic Mike are perking up similar conversations. In the end that's a good thing.
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 premise of Drive Angry has Nicolas Cage as a man who takes a road trip to punish the guys who are responsible for killing his daughter and kidnapping his granddaughter. But from the looks of the trailer, there’s not much actual driving! There’s much more footage of Cage crashing into inanimate objects and teaching the meaning of life to some random blond chick than there is of him getting himself from one place to another. The few moments we do get of Cage driving involve some serious explosions, which is probably meant to convey to us that even though he never raises his voice (at least in the trailer) to a level that’s louder than anything Lionel Richie has ever said in his entire life, HE’S FUCKING ANGRY. But there have certainly been angrier people behind the wheel, and here are a few of the more serious vehicular assailants we thought Cage could learn a thing or two about “driving angry” from.
Michelle’s driving became problematic in late 2003, when she was charged with eight misdemeanor counts from two separate occasions in Los Angeles. She pled no contest to the charges of drunk driving, hit and run, and driving without a license. She went to jail for 48 hours and was put on probation for three years. While shooting Lost in 2005, she was fined for speeding several times and then arrested again on December 1st for driving under the influence. She went to jail for five days but since the incident was considered a violation of her parole, her jail sentence was augmented to 60 days. Many believe her reckless behavior in Hawaii led to her character on Lost getting killed off.
Charlie Sheen Charlie Sheen’s past may not be punctuated by trouble behind the wheel, but that’s only because he makes $1.8 million per Two and a Half Men episode so he doesn’t have to drive himself anywhere. But if his instances of enjoying the company of $30,000 hookers, shooting Kelly Preston in the arm when he was engaged to her and locking up escorts in the closet because he believed they’d stolen his watch are indications of anything, it’s that he’s probably not a big yielder.
Though Shia didn’t cause the automobile accident that crushed his hand, the alcohol on his breath doesn’t completely free him from liability. In July of 2008, Shia’s Ford F-150 was hit by another car as it ran a red light at the intersection of La Brea Avenue and Fountain Avenue in Los Angeles. Shia was gripping the windowsill with his left hand while he was driving so when the other car drove over it, it was immediately crushed. Once officers got to the scene they smelled alcohol on Shia’s breath, and when asked if he would submit to a breathalyzer, he declined. He was arrested for misdemeanor drunk driving and his license was suspended for one year. Two days after the accident, the Sheriff’s Department announced that Shia was not at fault. He underwent several surgeries to repair his left hand, but still hasn’t regained complete mobility of it.
A list of the celebrities who drive poorly wouldn’t meet anyone’s standards if it glazed over the monstrosity that is Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay’s automotive troubles started innocently in 2004, when paparazzi started following her car and she suffered minor injuries when their car crashed into hers. On May 26th, 2007, Beverly Hills police arrested Lindsay for driving under the influence when she lost control of her Mercedes and mounted the curb. Police also found a “usable” amount of cocaine in her car. She was charged with a misdemeanor and entered rehab, where she stayed for 45 days. Upon release, she wore a SCRAM bracelet around her ankle to make sure she stayed sober. On July 24th, she was arrested again in Santa Monica for refusing a breathalyzer and, after being taken to the police station, for driving with a blood alcohol content level that was over the legal limit. Additionally, a small amount of cocaine was found in her pocket, and so she was charged with felony cocaine possession, driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. She had to do community service and was placed on three years probation. In August of 2007, she returned to rehab, where she stayed until October. In the coming years, she’d be in and out of rehab when she wasn’t hitting strollers with her Ferrari, violating her parole, or completely unconscious in the passenger’s seat.
Nicole Richie started having issues with driving in February of 2003, when she was arrested in Malibu, California for driving with a suspended license and for heroin possession. Things remained quiet up until December of 2006, when Richie was seen driving her black Mercedes onto an exit ramp on State Route 134 in Burbank and traveling down the highway in the wrong direction. She was pulled over by highway patrol and arrested after she failed a field sobriety test. After admitting that she had smoked some marijuana and taken a few Vicodin tablets before getting into her car, she was charged with driving under the influence and in July of 2007, was sentenced to four days in jail but only spent 82 minutes behind bars because of how overcrowded the Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood, California was at the time. She was placed on probation, but after she missed one of her alcohol education classes, the term was extended to another year and set to expire in 2011. However, at a hearing in December of 2010, Richie's probation was terminated early because she had complied with all of its requirements.
In January of 2010, as she was leaving The London West Hollywood Hotel, January crashed her Range Rover into three parked cars. But instead of staying at the scene and making sure everything was in order, she gave her license to a bystander and went home. She came back a few minutes later in a different set of clothes, and claimed to have called 911 when she was in her house. January told the police that she crashed because paparazzi were following her. It was later learned that (after the accident but before she got out of her car and went back to her house) she called Food Network star Bobby Flay, who she'd met earlier at the hotel, who told her to leave the scene of the accident. When TMZ spoke with him, he said that he only drove to where January had crashed because he just wanted to make sure she was okay and had no idea why January would call him for help, and that he especially did not encourage her to get out of her car and go home. Witnesses said they heard January ask if she was going to have to submit to a field sobriety test, but an officer told her it was pointless because there was no way to prove whether or not she was under the influence when she was in the car, since she could have gone home and had a drink.
Gibson cites 13 as the age when he began drinking, and it has certainly affected his conduct and his driving over the years. His abuse became most apparent in the summer of 2006 when he was arrested on the Pacific Coast Highway for driving under the influence and for speeding with an open container of alcohol in the car with him. When Officer James Mee questioned him, Gibson said “Fucking Jews…the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Additionally, he repeatedly said, “my life is fucked.” Once inside Mee’s police car, Gibson began banging his head against the seat and told Mee that “he owned Malibu” and that he would “spend all his money to “get even.” While that alone is sufficient proof of Gibson’s aggression, it’s only reinforced when one listens to the numerous tapes Oksana Grigorieva recorded of Gibson verbally abusing her, and so it’s pretty clear that his charm isn’t just hiding somewhere.
Unlike others on this list, Halle Berry doesn’t drink and drive. However, her involvement in a hit and run indicates that she does, in fact, have some road rage. On February 23rd, 2000, Berry ran a red light and collided with another vehicle that resulted in its driver becoming permanently disabled. After the impact Berry sped off in her car, even though she suffered a concussion and sustained a gash in her head that required anywhere between 17 to 20 stitches (reports vary). The Los Angeles District Attorney could have charged her with a felony, which if convicted, would have landed her a three year stint in jail but instead, Berry was only charged with a misdemeanor. She pled no contest in court and was sentenced to three years probation, 200 hours of community service, and a $13,500 fine. Berry now considers it the ordeal that “changed her life.”
The most dangerous driver on this list just happens to be a former First Lady! In November of 1963, Ms. Laura Bush (then Laura Welch was driving east on Farm Forad 868 with her friend to a party in Midland, Texas. The girls were chatting about clothes and Laura ran a stop sign that resulted in her crashing into Mike Douglas, who was in his car heading South on State Road 369. Douglas was thrown from his car, broke his neck, and died instantly. Even though Laura was not criminally charged for his death, she wrote in her book, Spoken from the Heart, that the accident was the reason why she lost her faith “for many, many years.”