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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Veteran TV actor Huang Wenyong has lost his battle with cancer at the age of 60. The Malaysian-born star passed away on Saturday (20Apr13), a week after he was hospitalised in Singapore following complications from lymphoma.
Wenyong began his acting career in the 1980s and appeared in more than 100 Chinese-language TV shows, including popular series Don't Worry, Be Happy, and its spin-off Lobang King. He also starred in action film The Seletar Robbery in 1982, but was perhaps most famous for his role in Singaporean TV drama The Awakening.
In response to the news of his death, officials at the Star Awards 2013 Show 2 have announced that Wenyong will be posthumously feted with the Honorary TV Award, in recognition of his contributions to Singapore's TV industry.
The prizegiving will take place at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore on 28 April (13).
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 fashion world is abuzz with rumours regarding the future royal's dress, but her spokespeople are refusing to reveal the identity of the chosen designer - because they want it to remain a secret up to the big day next month (Apr11).
But Alexander McQueen's stylists have ruled themselves out of the race, denying reports suggesting they've landed the honour.
McQueen's creative director Sarah Burton was said to be the woman behind the gown, but the company's spokeswoman Myriam Coudoux says, "This is not true." Burton has also denied the Sunday Times story.
Hongyi Huang, the head of PR for McQ, the house's contemporary clothing line, also denied the report.
Meanwhile, a royal family spokesman has added to the mystery over the chosen designer, stating, "We're not commenting on the specific designer for the dress, because Catherine Middleton wishes to keep the designer a secret until the wedding day."
She'll wed Prince William at Westminster Abbey in London on 29 April (11).
'Tis Valentine's Day, for loved ones to unite and lovelorn to show spite. In observance of this occasion, we find Tinseltown's love/no-love meter has been cranked up a notch.
Former bad-boy Christian Slater got married over the weekend to former television producer Ryan Haddon at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. The ceremony Saturday night was attended by 150 guests, according to his publicist, and officiated by author Neale Donald Walsch. The vows were taken from Walsch's book ``Conversations with God, Book 3.''
Slater, 30, was once as notorious for his bad behavior as he was for his wicked eyebrows. After squiring actresses (and co-stars) Winona Ryder, Samantha Mathis and Patricia Arquette as well as Christina Applegate and supermodel Christy Turlington, he was sued for palimony by longtime girlfriend Nina Huang after their 1995 split. He was later arrested for allegedly beating then-galpal Michelle Jonas and a police officer during a drug and alcohol-fueled brawl and spent three months in jail.
But that's all in the past; Slater's a family man now. He and Haddon, 28, have a 10-month-old son, Jaden Christopher, who will accompany his parents on their Hawaiian honeymoon.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: David Bowie and wife Iman have announced that they're expecting their first child in August.
Says the once-androgynous rocker, "It's been a long and patient wait for our baby, but both Iman and I wanted the circumstances to be absolutely right, and didn't want to find ourselves working flat out during the first couple years of the baby's life," Bowie, 53, said in a statement.
He and 44-year-old Iman, the Somali-born supermodel, were married in 1992. They have one child each from previous marriages.
Meanwhile, Oasis rocker Noel Gallagher suffered a crib-death scare over the weekend when 18-day-old daughter Anais suddenly turned blue and stopped breathing for about 30 seconds, reports London's Mirror. The musician phoned paramedics and passed instructions to his mother-in-law, who lay the baby on her back to clear the airways. The hospital gave Noel and the baby's mother, Meg Mathews, a breathing monitor in case the problem recurs.
COUPLINGS AND UNCOUPLINGS: London is also the setting for an engagement between Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay and Brit TV star Denise Van Outen, according to the Sun tabloid. The paper reports that Kay (real name Jason Kay) proposed with a $15,990 engagement ring after popping the question over dinner at his home.
Across the ocean, all was not well on the Dominican Republic front, where singer-actress Diana Ross and husband Arne Naess formally divorced Friday. The nation, which is the place for quickie divorces as long as one of the spouses is present, granted the split to the couple, who were married in 1986 and separated in April. The former Supreme, 55, and Naess, 61, have two children; Ross also has three daughters from previous relationships.
But in New York, a happy marriage took place for, well, Sigourney Weaver's dog. The actress' pooch exchanged collars with a "studly" Italian greyhound, which she calls "the Mel Gibson of Italian greyhounds," in a pre-mating marriage ceremony (or "muttrimony") at an Upper East Side pet boutique, according to the New York Post. No word on the prenup agreement.
QUICK TAKES: Film critic Rex Reed was arrested Saturday after he was allegedly caught shoplifting three CDs from a Tower Records store. The New York Observer columnist, 61, was seen removing albums by Mel Torme, Peggy Lee and Carmen McRae and putting them in his jacket pocket. Security officials stopped him, and he was charged with larceny and criminal possession of stolen property ...
... Miramax Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein emerged last week at a party for the New York Post's Page Six after months of rumors about the illness that kept him away from Sundance and the Golden Globes. The company spokesman maintains that Weinstein, 47, suffered a bacterial infection and is now back in the swing of things -- minus 40 pounds and wearing a nicotine patch to keep him away from those cigarettes.
... Leonardo DiCaprio is supporting Al Gore for president, according to an interview in the new Time magazine. The star of "The Beach" says he's on the verge of joining his campaign and almost took the stage during the New Hampshire primary to cheer on the White House hopeful. "I was going to just stand onstage and look hardcore," Leo tells Time. But likely he knew that would elicit fainting spells from the campaigner's daughters.
YOUNG AND RESTLESS: We'd like to take this time and promote some starlets who, despite their fame, looks and Internet downloads, are in the mood for love this Valentine's Day.
Perennially chirpy Jennifer Love Hewitt says, "I'm afraid that I'll never get married because I'm a hopeless romantic." She's currently seeing a musician she won't name, but as the 20-year-old recently revealed at a magazine luncheon in New York, "I'm going to end up alone when I'm 95, sitting home surrounded by 19 cats."
And teen pop queen Britney Spears, who has exchanged e-mails with Prince William, has confided her Valentine's Day wish to TV Guide Online: "My dream is to make a movie and to have a love scene with Ben Affleck. He is so real and so warm."
But if Ben's not available, she'd still like to date someone in show business. "Of course, if I met somebody at McDonald's and I fell in love with him, I'd have to go with my heart. But it would help being in the same industry, because you know what that person is going through, scheduling-wise," Spears, 18, says.
So basically, if you're a celebrity or a McDonald's cashier, you have a shot.