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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Based on E.B. White’s enduring children’s story we meet Wilbur the Pig (Dominic Scott Kay) a runt who is saved from the axe by a little farm girl named Fern (Dakota Fanning). She raises Wilbur from infancy but eventually she has to send Wilbur over to her uncle’s neighboring farm since there’s no room for a pig in her house. There in the barn Wilbur meets the assortment of colorful animal characters: Betsy (Reba McEntire) and Bitsy (Kathy Bates) two pessimistic cows; motherly goose Gussy (Oprah Winfrey) and her henpecked hubby Golly (Cedric the Entertainer); Samuel (John Cleese) an uptight sheep; the skittish horse Ike (Robert Redford); the self-serving rat Templeton (Steve Buscemi); and of course sweet Charlotte (Julia Roberts) a spider with a heart of gold. When the naïve Wilbur finds out he might be Christmas dinner Charlotte makes a promise to her new friend that she’ll do everything in her power to make sure Wilbur sees the Christmas snow—and everyone ends up helping her out. What could be more fun than to voice a barnyard animal? Winfrey and Cedric’s geese banter is like an old married couple. Cleese gives Samuel the sheep a certain upper-crustiness. Redford is actually pretty funny as a horse who’s deathly afraid of spiders (“I’ll listen to you but I just can’t look at you”). Buscemi is a particularly nice choice as the sneaky rat Templeton who only thinks about filling his belly with food (no typecasting there we swear). For pure comic relief there are also two crows voiced by Andre Benjamin and Thomas Haden Church who just can’t quite get around the whole scarecrow thing. And as Charlotte Roberts has a truly soothing and loving tone sort of how you’d imagine it from the book. As for the human aspect Fanning continues to do what she does best playing Fern with the right amount of youthful innocence spunkiness and determination. Just wondering how we are going to handle it when this amazing little actress grows up and starts doing like adult things. Actually it is sort of a shame they couldn’t get a live-action version of Charlotte's Web made before Babe. Sure there was the 1973 animated cutesy film but a live-action adaptation of this timeless tale really should have been the standard by which all computer-generated talking farm animal movies would follow don’t you think? Instead Charlotte's Web pales ever so slightly in comparison. Oh well water under the bridge. Director Gary Winick (13 Going on 30) still manages to invoke the wonderful and uplifting spirit of the novel keeping faithful to the text in all ways. Visually the film is crisp and flawless in its execution particularly in the beauty and splendor of how Charlotte spins her webs and emotionally hearts will indeed swell and tears will flow. Charlotte's Web is the perfect family movie to inspire the next generation of young readers and viewers as well as for the rest of us who fondly remember the childhood classic.
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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