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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There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.
Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
Talk-show guru Oprah Winfrey called up The View co-host Star Jones yesterday to clarify recent reports that she turned down a tour of Afghanistan schools arranged by the White House because she was too busy. Winfrey told Jones she was approached about the trip by the White House several weeks back and was told that the plans were ultra-sensitive. When Winfrey explained that she had already made other commitments, Bush adviser Karen Hughes told her they were going anyway. Oprah, Jones said, thought they had already gone: "She said, 'So imagine my surprise, I wake up and read in the newspaper that I'm being cavalier, I'm too busy!...Star, I felt extremely used by the Bush administration.'"
Oscar winner Halle Berry apparently had a falling-out of some sort with Revlon owner Ron Perelman at an Oscar party. According to the New York Post, Perelman congratulated the actress after her win for Best Actress and told her he was happy to have her as a Revlon model, to which Berry reportedly replied, "Of course, now you'll have to pay me more." Perelman, the paper claims, stormed off in a huff and is now telling Revlon's attorney to capitalize on Berry's fame at no extra cost.
Original shock-jock Howard Stern has reportedly listed his Millennium Tower apartment--a combination of two penthouses--for $16 million, PageSix.com reports. Stern, who bought the place for $5.8 million two years ago after he separated from his wife Alison, reportedly wants to move back to Long Island.
Pilot error and blizzard conditions are what caused a plane carrying Sandra Bullock to crash land at Jackson Hole Airport two years ago, the Associated Press reports. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the pilot failed to follow approach procedures when he decided to land even though the runway was not visible. Bullock suffered slight whiplash when the plane missed the runway and crashed into 2 feet of snow.
Upset over the television coverage of the Saturday death of England's Queen Mother, Prince Charles has snubbed the BBC by giving an exclusive interview to ITN. At issue is that BBC anchor Peter Sissons did not wear the traditional black tie during the announcement of the Queen Mother's death, and his on-air grilling of the Queen Mother's niece about her aunt's final moments, Variety reports.
After a number of guest appearances on Ally McBeal, Jon Bon Jovi has decided to leave the show. According to the New York Daily News, the show's producers gave Bon Jovi an ultimatum: "They either want me to marry Ally, or it's over," he told the paper. "But I have a day job. I've already started a record with my band. I want to finish it and go on tour. I have four other guys in Jersey going, 'Hey, what the...?'" Bon Jovi's character will leave the show after nine episodes.
The ratings war between CBS and NBC remains interesting even though the players have changed. Although Survivor and Friends are still battling it out, the more intense race seems to be between CSI and ER. While ER was the No. 1 series for adults aged 18-49, CSI won the overall viewer ratings with 25.2 million.
Eminem will not be participating in this year's Black College Reunion in Daytona Beach, Fla., which features some of the biggest names in rap and R&B, the AP reports. Last year, Mayor Bud Asher ordered a halt to Eminem's performance at the annual event and said the rapper was not welcome back. Eminem's shows generally include profanity and drug references. Busta Rhymes, Ja Rule, Ludacris and Master P are all scheduled to perform at the event, which will take place at the city's oceanfront band shell.
Former Culture Club singer Boy George will join the cast of Taboo, a West End musical based on his life, Reuters reports. In the musical, Boy George will play a 1980s performance artist, a role that he will take over for Matt Lucas around the end of April. Boy George, whose hit singles include "Karma Chameleon" and "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me," also wrote the music and lyrics for the show.
Glenn Close, Nathan Lane and Barbara Walters were some of the celebrities honored at the 13th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation awards ceremony recognizes people and projects in the media that offer fair and inclusive representation of the gay community. Close was awarded for making a significant difference in promoting equal rights for lesbians and gay and transgender people, Lane for his contribution in combating homophobia and Walters for a 20/20 segment on gay parenting.
Comedian Dudley Moore received a modest send-off Tuesday when some 30 friends and family members gathered under a tent and tossed roses onto his grave at the Hillside Cemetery in Scotch Plains, N.J., Reuters reports. No high-profile celebrities attended the ceremony, which was tightly guarded. Moore died last Wednesday of pneumonia after a long battle against a rare degenerative brain disorder.
French composer Jacques Loussier filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in a Manhattan court Thursday claiming Eminem and his record label Interscope Records stole one of his tunes, the Associated Press reports. The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, accuses the Grammy-winning rapper and his label of lifting parts of Loussier's jazz fusion work "Pulsion" for Eminem's "Kill You" which appears on his best-selling album The Marshall Mathers LP. Loussier, 67, gained fame by fusing classical music and jazz with his Play Bach Trio. According to the suit, Loussier has released more than a dozen albums, selling six million copies worldwide.
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey declined an offer from President Bush to join an official U.S. delegation to tour Afghanistan's schools because of her busy schedule. According to the AP, the White House has since postponed the trip, which was to celebrate young girls' return to school after the fall of the Taliban regime. It is not clear whether the delegation will replace with another celebrity. The trip was to feature Bush advisor Karen Hughes and possibly National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Richard Gere has canceled a planned appearance before the German parliament's human rights committee, the AP reports. Gere, a committed Buddhist, did not give an explanation for the cancellation. He was invited to a meeting of the panel in Berlin on April 17 because he is considered "knowledgeable about the political situation " in Tibet, the head of the parliament committee told German magazine Der Spiegel last month.
Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell is going to have laser surgery to remove two tattoos on her back, UK's the Mail on Sunday reports. The singer will reportedly visit Cher's doctor in California to discuss the procedure. "I've changed," she told the paper. "It's time to get rid of them and move on." The tattoos include an eight-pronged star between her shoulder blades and a black jaguar on her lower back.
Kylie Minogue has reportedly turned down a $1.7 million offer to pose nude for Playboy magazine. The singer told The News of the World: "I don't think I'll take it up. I'd never pose topless because it's not me." Minogue however is contemplating an offer from the Sultan of Brunei to sing at a private birthday party for his son, the paper reports.
In-flight publication SkyMall will distribute the first of 10 celebrity versions of the catalogue starting in April, the AP reports. The debut catalog, which will be distributed in the seatbacks of 24 airlines, will feature George Segal and Wendie Malick who star in the NBC comedy Just Shoot Me. The company said the stars were chosen because Segal, whose character Jack Gallo is a magazine publisher, is depicted as a SkyMall fan.
Clarkston District Court Judge Gerald McNally refused to disqualify himself in the crotch-rubbing case against shock rocker Marilyn Manson. Prosecutor Kenneth Frazee had asked McNally disqualify himself from the case because the judge had indicated he would likely charge Manson $4,000 without hearing all the facts. McNally says that his knowledge of some of the facts does not warrant his removal, the AP reports.
Iggy Pop, Perry Farrell and Ben Harper have reportedly been dumped by EMI's Virgin Records. According to the New York Post, the record company is experiencing a shake-up amid the arrival of new label head Matt Serletic and new EMI chief Alain Levy. The paper also claims Virgin insiders said Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger (as a solo artist) just missed the ax. EMI recently paid Mariah Carey $50 million to back out of her $100 million contract, and the label also announced 1,800 layoffs.
AMC Entertainment Inc. has completed the purchase of GC Companies, the parent company of General Cinemas. According to an AMC press release, the acquisition, which was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware on March 18, includes 66 theaters with 621 screens in the United States. AMC is one of the survivors of a wave of cinema bankruptcies in recent years that include United Artist Theater Co., Edwards Cinemas, Carmike Cinemas and General Cinemas.
On the [Crime] Scene
Following reports that a plea bargain deal had been struck in PR princess Lizzie Grubman's road rage trial, one of the victims is speaking out. "I want the truth to come out, " the victim told the New York Post on the condition of anonymity. "I do want to see her stand trial. It's not fair to just see her walk away." Grubman, you may recall, was charged with assault and leaving the scene of an accident after she plowed down 16 people outside a Southampton's club last July. Grubman, a close friend of actress Tara Reid, represents a long list of clients, including Jay-Z.
Author Ray Bradbury, who wrote the classic science fiction novel The Martian Chronicles, will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Monday. The ceremony, which will be attended by Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn and actor Charlton Heston, will kick off the month-long reading campaign called "One Book, One City L.A." with residents being urged to read Bradbury's Farenheit 451. The book is about a futuristic firefighter who must burn books for a living.
Ed Turner, the man who helped establish CNN as a major respected news source, died at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., Saturday after a long battle with liver cancer. He was 66. One of the first professionals brought into the company in 1980, he was nicknamed "No Relation" Turner because he coincidentally shared the last name of founder Ted Turner, the AP reports.
Comedian and scriptwriter Barry Took died Sunday morning at a nursing home in London after suffering from cancer. He was 73. Took, who helped create the classic radio comedy Round the Horne, was responsible for bringing the Monty Python team to the BBC. He was also a successful TV and radio presenter, hosting Points of View and The News Quiz.
The man found dead in actor Art Malik's swimming pool Friday was his daughter's boyfriend, Daniel Williams, Reuters reports. Williams had attended the woman's 21st birthday and was later found unconscious in the pool. Malik, who starred in Passage to India and Jewel in the Crown, said: "Dan was a very special person and we very much considered him part of our family. He had been Jessica's boyfriend for seven months and they were very happy together." Williams' death is not being treated as suspicious.