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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Engagements. Divorces. Break-ups. Cheating scandals. Three-breasted women. Let's face it — we've seen a lot this year. So much, in fact, that it's hard to believe less than 12 months have passed between news that Taylor Swift would write songs about Jake Gyllenhaal and the news that Taylor Swift had written songs about Jake Gyllenhaal.
So what else has 2012 packed into its already jam-packed year? To take a trip down memory lane, we've handpicked some of our favorite Hollywood.com stories written about some of our favorite pop culture topics of the year. Read and enjoy below! Sniff. Pop culture grows up so fast.
Uggie, Hollywood's Most Famous Dog, Spills the Dirt on His Co-Stars — VIDEOThe Academy Awards' other break-out (it's not all about you, Angie's leg), Uggie, visited Lindsey DiMattina in Hollywood.com's offices to talk about his memoir, Uggie: My Story, and his ruff rough life alongside stars like Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.
Brad and Angelina's Engagement Lets Gay Americans Down: Brian Moylan on why the biggest engagement of the year may also be the biggest disappointment.
Colton Dixon: 'I'm Honored' to Be the Tim Tebow of 'Idol': Lindsey DiMattina's interview with the seventh place Idol finisher proved Colton Dixon knows his power within the Christian community. Hopefully he does better than the Jets.
15 Villains We Like Better Than Heroes: As Loki entered our lexicon upping The Avengers' record-breaking arrival, Shaunna Murphy explored comics' nuanced and complex villains — translation: those who were much more interesting than their heroic counterparts.
The Hulk Problem: Lou Ferrigno on Marvel's Struggles to Bring the Hero to Screen: Prior to The Avengers, Hollywood couldn't quite hit the Hulk hard enough to turn him into a hit. That makes the original Hulk, Lou Ferrigno, angry. You'll like him when he's angry. Read his chat with Matt Patches.
10 'Community' Episodes That Couldn't Exist Without Dan Harmon: Following Community's Season 4 renewal, chatter began circulating that beloved creator Dan Harmon would not return to the series. Weeks before that proved to be true — the showrunner was replaced by David Guarascio and Moses Port — Michael Arbeiter mapped out 10 episodes of the NBC series that wouldn't exist without Harmon. Read it and weep. Really. 'Girls': A Show for Guys?: In the Spring, HBO's Girls premiered to less fanfare than chatter. Did Girls represent the new wave of comedy, or was it simply a narrow, whitewashed representation of youthful immaturity? Whatever it was, Michael Arbeiter explains why guys dig Girls. 'Brave' and the Princess Problem, Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Pixar's latest, Brave also proved to be its most divisive. Was the film a refreshing departure from Disney past — centering on a spunky heroine with no eyes on marriage — or another example of the studio's inability to break from princess culture? Kelly Schremph talks to Women in Film and others about Brave's princess problem. 'Brave's Girl Power Problem: Empowering Girls at the Expense of Boys?: And, unfortunately, as Michelle Lee points out, Bravehad a boy problem too. Notes on Nora Ephron: In 2012, we lost pop culture greats like Andy Griffith, Dick Clark, and Larry Hagman. And then there was Nora Ephron, a woman that meant as much to pop culture as pop culture meant to her. Alicia Lutes' tribute to the late screenwriter is as touching as a moment atop the Empire State Building. Joe Manganiello Hints at a 'Magic Mike' Prequel: No butts (heh) about it, as soon as Magic Mike hit theaters, we were as drawn to the Xquisite club as Mike was to tables. So imagine how pumped we were when Michael Rothman talks to Joe Manganielloand discovered a prequel could be in the works. Magical! 'Spider-Man' Fandom: Why a Reboot Was the Only Answer: Matt Patches explored why, just 10 years after the original Spider-Mantrilogy debuted, there was little fanfare surrounding the latest reboot and why, still, pop culture demanded the sequel. 'Spider-Man' Star Emma Stone Knows You Turn Her Into GIFs: Spider-Man star Emma Stoneis aware of her place in GIF culture, and tells Hollywood.com and the Internet, "Don't let me become a GIF." In response, of course, the Internet turns Stone's interview with Hollywood.com into a GIF. 'Amazing Spider-Man': How Scientific Was the Science?: Could someone replicate lizards' regenerative properties to regrow limbs? Would any company be interested in creating web technology? And could Peter Parker really order scientific liquid on Amazon? University of Minnesota and superhero science expert Dr. Jim Kakalios weighs in! Will People Head to the Theater for 'Dark Knight Rises'?: In the early morning hours of July 20, a shooter named James Holmes entered an Aurora, Colo. theater during a midnight screening of Dark Knight Risesand opened fire, killing 12 and injuring dozens more. Talking to theatergoers and theater workers, Matt Patches explores trepidation surrounding seeing the film following the tragedy. Midnight Movie Screening Culture: What Happens Now?: Following the Dark Knight Risestragedy, questions lingered regarding midnight movie culture: Would theatergoers still be allowed to wear costumes? Will theaters implement more security? Marc Snetiker talks to security experts and audience members about what might change about the cult event. Seeing 'The Dark Knight Rises' Before and After the Tragedy: Marc Snetiker, who attended a midnight screening prior to learning about the tragedy, admits his experience seeing the film was far more carefree than those who purchased tickets after. Aly Semigran and Michael Arbeiter, on the other hand, describe the tension and sadness surrounding each screening of the film following the tragedy. Why Are We So Skeptical of Celebrity Couples?: In late July, Kristen Stewart took a bite out of Twihards' hearts when she publicly admitted to cheating on boyfriend and co-star Robert Pattinson with married Snow White and the Huntsman director, Rupert Sanders. The dramatic apology ("I love him, I love him, I'm so sorry") launched talk over whether Stewart's relationship with Pattinson was ever real in the first place, piling on similar chatter that arose when Katie Holmes and Tom Cruisedivorced. Here, Kate Ward talks to experts about why our cynical society is unable to separate truth from fiction. Kristen Stewart and the New World of Internet Hatred: Brian Moylan sympathizes with Stewart, a young actress that entered a gray moral zone (like many her age) during the harsh age of the Internet. The Three-Breasted Alien in 'Total Recall' and Other Pop Culture Twos Gone Awry: We love Total Recall's three-breasted woman — both original and rebooted. What we don't love is these pop culture trios gone awry. Walk away, Game of Thrones' three-eyed Raven, the strawberry in Neapolitan ice cream, and the wise man who gave myrrh. Aly Semigran explains why you're all not wanted. 'Breaking Bad' Cast Connections: 'Total Recall' and Other Common Bonds — INFOGRAPHIC: Bryan Cranston starred in the Total Recall reboot, while Dean Norris starred in the original 1990 movie. But you'd be surprised to see how else the Breaking Badcast is connected. Michael Arbeiter shows us the six degrees here, bitch! The Many (Unchanging) Faces of Edward Norton: One of these things is just like the other. In fact, all of these things are just like the other. Bic's Slimmer, Sparklier Pens 'Just For Her' Hit the Market: Bic's sparkly, slim pens "Just For Her"?! Abbey Stone writes about how the sexist line is just not write. (Heh.)'Fifty Shades of Grey': What do Authors and BDSM Experts Think?Your aunt (disturbingly) loves E.L. James' break-out BDSM hit. But what do erotica novelists and BDSM experts think about the digestible — but poorly written — series? Read here to find out what Aly Semigran learned — or just go eat your breakfast. 'Breaking Bad': An Ode to Mike: Michael Arbeiter's salute to Breaking Bad's seemingly immortal Mike Ehrmentraut, a man who gave full measure. Dean Norris Teases 'Brutal' 'Breaking Bad' Finale: 'There's Going to Be an 'Oh, S**t' Moment': When Shaunna Murphy spoke to Dean Norris about Breaking Bad's "devastating" finale, the actor teased an "Oh s**t" moment. It turns out he would be right — literally and figuratively. Leanne's Spoiler List: Will Finchel Get Back Together? Lea Michele Answers!: In early September, Hollywood.com brought you the first edition of Leanne's Spoiler List, your home for obsessive TV scoop. In its debut edition, Leanne Aguilera's column teases a Finchel reunion, to the emoticon-fueled squeals of Gleefans. Ryan Seacrest Is All That's Left of the 'American Idol' Brand: Call it Reality Show Roulette — singing competition series' incessant revolving celebrity panels. In September, American Idol finally announced its judging panel, led by Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, and Randy Jackson. Kelsea Stahler talks to a brand marketing expert about how Idol's one remaining (non-Jackson) mainstay, Ryan Seacrest, is vital to the Idolbrand. Seacrest (can never go) out! Cable Dominates Emmy Nominations: This is the Year of the Small, But Mighty: Kelsea Stahler talks to Emmy voters about why small is so big at the 2012 Emmys. Turns out (small) size might matter after all. Are Some Shows Gaming the Emmys?: American Horror Story for Best Miniseries? Ashley Judd for Best Actress in a Miniseries for Missing? Brian Moylan consults the Academy of Television of Arts and Sciences, Connie Britton, and Missing's executive producer about how they're still playing by Emmys' rules. 'Modern Family' Spell Won't Be Broken Anytime Soon. And That's Okay.: "Who would have thought Modern Familywould win the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series?" said no one. The ABC comedy, which won the highest honor for the third year in a row, earned scorn from some hoping for a change. But Kelsea Stahler explains why the trend will only continue. 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo' For a Second Season: Internet Implodes: This summer, a ball of sketti-smeared energy named Honey Boo Boo bursted into our lives and created one of the the more vicious debates in pop culture. Was the series exploiting poor Alana and her poor family? Or was the series a playful documentary of a loving and accepting family? Either way, the debate will continue into Season 2, as Alicia Lutes discovered upon the renewal's announcement. 8 Things More Offensive Than Victoria's Secret's Sexy Little Geisha: Michelle Lee wonders whether the lingerie company really did cross the line with their ridiculous Sexy Little Geisha garb. Instead, she offers up eight other racially insensitive characters and things in pop culture to direct your anger at. (Ahem, 2 Broke Girls' Han Lee.) Facebook and Chairs: What Other Objects Is It Like? — VIDEO: According to Facebook's first ad campaign, chairs are like Facebook. And so are doorbells, airplanes, basketball, bagged lunches, Ron Swanson's mustache, and participating Applebee's locations. (Okay, we made those last three up.) Why We Can't Peg President Obama's Pop Culture Persona: President Clinton was the womanizer, President Bush was the doltish goof, and even Gerald Ford had a distinct (if inaccurate) pop culture persona. President Obama, however, proved to be much harder to peg for comedians. Kelsea Stahler talks to Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele and other comedy insiders about why Obama will never be labeled by Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and others. Shh! We Have Obama and Romney's Secret Notes from the Debate: Not really, but we wish these were real. Are These Quotes from a Presidential Debate or 'Real Housewives' Reunion?: You'll be surprised how often the line blurs. Take Brian Moylan's quiz! Smear Ads 2012: Stop Liking Ryan Gosling — VIDEO: Did you know Ryan Gosling is fueling one of the worst wars in the world? His words, not ours. See our smear ad (paid for by your boyfriend). Love By Numbers: The Big 'Bachelor' Breakup Barometer: In July, we were surprised when Bachelorette's Emily Maynard chose Jef Holm over Arie Luyendyk. And, in October, we weren't surprised when Maynard and Holm became the latest couple in the Bachelor franchise to part ways. Just what is the mean length of Bachelorrelationships? Alicia Lutes does the math! Boy Meets World Halloween Episode Oral History: Matt Patches assembles Boy Meets World's cast and crew to talk about the series' memorable and unsettling 1998 Halloween episode, "And Then There Was Shawn." As Rider Strongtold Patches about the episode, "I actually thought, 'Well, this will be fun for us, but our audience might hate it.'" But you didn't — so read about how the series and episode came to be and remembered. Why Isn't There a Female Equivalent of James Bond?: Why haven't female heroes grabbed national attention like Bond grabs his girls? Feminist experts tell Kelsea Stahler why sexism may be responsible for a lack of lady spy love. Adele, 'Skyfall,' and the State of the Movie Soundtrack: Aly Semigran talks to experts about the disappearing phenomenon of movie soundtracks in a digital age. Still, some soundtracks will never go out of style or age, quite like Bond himself. Does James Bond Have a Problem with Gays?: We salute Skyfallfor a surprising scene that implies Bond has flirted with homosexuality. Still, the scene hardly makes up for Bond's gay problem. Brian Moylan explains why.
'Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 2': Kristen Stewart on Bella as a Feminist Role Model: Is Bella a role model? Many feminists say no. But Kristen Stewart gives a Shaunna Murphy a different — and smart — answer. 10 Crimes Committed By the Characters of 'Twilight': Believe it or not, the beloved characters from the Twilightfranchise have committed fraud, theft, insider trading, and whatever the hell law that imprinting nonsense has to have broken. Matt Patches tells us why the Cullen clan should trade their Forks mansion for a prison cell. How Bad is Guy Fieri's Restaurant? The People Speak: Following Pete Wells' harsh New York Times review of the Food Network personality's Guy's American Kitchen, the intrepid Abbey Stone and Kelsea Stahler went express to Flavor Town and learned diner's reactions were surprisingly positive — even if Hollywood.com was saddened to learn the restaurant took their blue watermelon margarita off the menu following Wells' complaints.Taylor Swift Rumor Mill: Jake Gyllenhaal and Harry Styles Are Her Latest VictimsAbbey Stone on why Taylor Swift's game is getting old. Continue to be coy about your relationships, Taylor, and we'll never, ever, ever get back together. 'iCarly': The Best Sitcom Since 'Arrested Development': Michelle Lee has a point, even if that headline made you blue yourself. Pop Culture Dioramas: Art Inspired by 'Avengers,' 'Magic Mike,' and More: Pop culture art projects worthy of As, Fs, and WTFs!
Share your fondest memories of 2012's year in pop culture below! [Image Credit: Warner Bros.]
You Might Also Like:
20 Hottest Bikini Bodies of 2012: Megan Fox and More!
Honey Boo Boo vs. Kardashians: An Xmas Card Showdown