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
Maggie Smith is concerned, you guys. See, she's on this show called Downton Abbey, which has everyone this side of PBS getting their undertrousers in a twist. People are still freaking out about this little British transport, and it's only been two seasons! No one got this excited over any of the eight seasons of Monk.
But back to my point: Maggie Smith (perhaps most famous from her stint as Mother Superior in Sister Act, obviously) is lonely. She's the sassiest, silliest thing on that show, but alas, nobody in the cast even comes close to matching her wit and intrigue. Yes, Shirley Maclaine will spar with La Maggie in the show's upcoming third season (due in early 2013), but that just isn't enough. Downton needs a little injection of stylish class — something a little more Lady Gaga, a little less Lady Sybil (who is about as thrilling as a sack of chalk).
Julian Fellowes, this message is for you. Here are my suggestions for classy people you can recruit for Season 3, just... because.
Sir Topham Hatt (Thomas the Tank Engine)
...as a tyrannical train station despot.
...as Lady Edith's fever dream.
Charles Widmore (Lost)
...as NOT THE DOWAGER COUNTESS'S BOAT.
...as Mr. Bates, twenty years and several land acquisitions in the future.
Geoffrey (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
...as the sardonic new butler.
Lovey Howell (Gilligan's Island)
...as Lady Sybil's fierce new NYADA dance teacher.
Stewie Griffin (Family Guy)
...as Matthew and Lady Mary's love child.
The band from Titanic
...as the band from Downton Abbey.
Aibileen (The Help)
You is kind, you is smart, you is watching PBS.
Ann B. Davis as Alice
...as Miss Alice.
Ferguson (Clarissa Explains It All)
...as Gwen's mysterious, estranged ginger brother.
The bitches from Dynasty
...as the cast of the Earl of Grantham's biopic.
...as Carson's new squeeze.
...as Matthew Crawley's rich, drunk uncle.
The Old Navy lady with the big glasses
...as that Turkish guy from Season 1.
Follow Marc on Twitter @MarcSnetiker
[Photo Credit: Gullane (Thomas) Limited; IAC Search & Media; Old Navy; Kraft Foods; Hasbro; Comedy Central; CBS; Nickelodeon (2); ABC (2); FOX; WENN; NBC; Walt Disney Pictures; Paramount Pictures]
'Downton Abbey' Season Three Trailer Is Full of Spoilers
'Downton Abbey' Stars Ordered To Burn Scripts
'Downton Abbey' Dish: Season Three is Shirley vs. Maggie
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.