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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You know that video that went around a few months ago where Dax Shepard presented Kristen Bell a sloth for a little birthday cuddle and she promptly had an adorable crying fit? Instead of catching Hit and Run you're better off just watching that for 100 minutes interspersed with the car chase scenes from your favorite action movie.
Hit and Run stars the real-life couple as a Mutt and Jeff pair living in a small town in California. Annie (Bell) is a professor who's presented with the opportunity for a big city gig at Stanford. The catch is it's in Los Angeles — and her beloved Charlie (Shepard) can't leave the city. Charlie Bronson is in the Witness Protection Plan for testifying against his bank robbin' buddies after a heist gone awry. Charlie was merely the getaway driver so his hands are relatively clean but he's on his former best friend's sh*tlist for ratting them out. Plus Annie's ex Gil (Michael Rosenbaum) is obsessed with winning her back. Add in prison rape jokes Bradley Cooper with a terrible wig of white boy dreads and Tom Arnold as That Guy the annoyingly goofy Federal Marshall assigned to protect Charlie and who only succeeds in crashing his car and discharging his gun and you've got a headache of a movie.
Besides its uncomfortably lingering jabs at prison Hit and Run boasts a number of distasteful attempts at humor. It's possible to make almost anything funny but you must have talent to do it. This is not the case here. Kristin Chenoweth has a small part as Debbie Annie's boss who encourages Annie to take the job because she deserves it. Debbie doesn't because she got trashed a lot in college was date raped had an abortion and went to a state school. There's another running joke about a Grindr-like app and a gay cop — because it's funny for a cop to be gay. The characters keep accidentally barging into a hotel room full of swingers that are of various ages and body types because God forbid people who don't look like Bell or Shepard have sex.
The only enjoyable aspect of the movie is the chemistry between Shepard and Bell although one could hazard a guess that their little fights are based on real-life tiffs. (Based on the movie's sensibilities it wouldn't be a far reach to imagine that Bell probably did have to teach Shepard why it wasn't okay to say things were "gay" instead of just uncool.) Their arguments about the present moment versus the past are interesting enough but it seems pretty dumb that she was fine with him being in protective custody for who-knows-what-crime only to suddenly freak out when she finds out what his crime really was or that he had a life before her (including a fiancée). How can she suddenly get mad at him for misrepresenting himself when she knew the whole time he was on the run from something? His new name is Charlie Bronson! Come on!
There are so many problems with this story so many moments that fall flat so many unfunny jokes beaten to death so many moments of fuzzy logic that it's confounding how it was actually made. Shepard wrote the screenplay and co-directed with David Palmer and it looks serviceable enough. But someone needs to get the lovable and lovely Kristen Bell a new agent… yesterday.
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.
No Pope Endorsement For Gibson Film
Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, secretary to Pope John Paul II, said Tuesday
the 83-year-old pontiff never endorsed Mel Gibson's The Passion of
Christ saying, "It is as it was," after viewing the film, The Associated
Press reports. Dziwisz, who has served as the Pope's secretary during his 25-year term, confirmed that the John Paul II had indeed seen the controversial
film that depicts the last hours of Jesus' life, but he had made no such
statement that the film is accurate in its
portrayal of the crucifixion of Jesus. The Vatican press office has declined
to comment on the Pope's opinion of the film, stating they do not report on
"the private activities of the Pope." Gibson has long defended his film as
being faithful to the Biblical account of the crucifixion. Some Jewish
organizations have raised concerns about the film stirring up anti-Semitic
sentiment due to its portrayal of Jewish involvement in the death of Jesus.
The film opens on Ash Wednesday, February 25th.
Frances McDormand To Head Berlin Jury
Oscar winner Frances McDormand will head the seven-member jury at this
year's Berlin International Film Festival, AP reports. The indie-favorite actress is
currently starring in Something's Gotta Give which will play at the
festival out of competition. McDormand will join
Italian actress Valeria Bruni Tedeschi; Ethiopian director Maji-da Abdi;
Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf; Italian director Gabriele Salvatores;
movie theater director Dan Talbot, and German film producer Peter Rommel to
select, among other awards, the winner of the Golden Bear top award. The festival runs February 5-15.
Dan Rather Treated for Skin Cancer
Dan Rather, longtime anchor of the CBS Evening News, said Monday he
had surgery to remove cancerous cells from his nose, AP reports. Rather has
been absent from the nightly newscast for several nights, but reappeared
Monday and spoke about his condition on the air. Basal skin cancer often
develops after years of prolonged skin exposure, but is highly treatable if
detected early. Rather urged viewers to be examined for skin cancer and said
the whole experience was "humbling." A full recovery for the 72-year-old is expected.
Moonves Orders More Survivors
In a less than shocking move, CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves has
renewed the network's contract with Survivor until at least 2005,
according to The Hollywood Reporter. The new deal as well as the
locations of the ninth and tenth editions of the show were hammered out
while Moonves and Survivor creator Mark Burnett rode an escalator in
the hotel where the two are doing press for CBS. In addition to the new
Survivor shows, CBS has also ordered full seasons for freshman shows
Two and a Half Men and Navy NCIS. It was also announced that
CBS' hit CSI will spin off once again with CSI: New York.
Moonves has been criticized for some of his programming choices recently
namely his decision to pull the Reagan miniseries from CBS The
Reagans after the project came under fire. The biopic later aired on
sister pay channel Showtime. The new season of Survivor starring past
winners and popular contestants will begin airing following the Super Bowl
on February 1st.
Nick and Aaron's Mom Arrested
Jane Carter, mother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and poplet Aaron Carter, was arrested
Tuesday night and charged with battery after breaking into her estranged
husband's home and attacking his new girlfriend, Launch Radio Networks
reports. Ms. Carter allegedly broke into the house, walked into the bedroom
where Robert Carter and his girlfriend Ginger Elrod where sleeping. Ms.
Carter then allegedly pulled Ms. Elrod out of the bed by her hair and
proceeded to beat her with a remote control. Aaron's twin sister Angel was
present during the occurrence and told police she had indeed seen her mother
"physically beating" Ms. Elrod. Jane Carter is already in hot water with
Aaron, who charged that she removed $100,000 from his bank account
without his permission. This disagreement was resolved Sunday. Robert Carter
is now being sued for libel and breach of contract by talent manager Eliot
Weisman, who claims he was cut out of Aaron's career only after he had gotten
them representation at the William Morris Agency. Jane Carter's arraignment
hearing for the battery charge is February 3rd.
Kid's Choice Awards Nominees Named
Preteen pop favorites Bow Wow, Nick Cannon and Justin Timberlake will be at the
mercy of children when the Kid's Choice Awards are handed out for best male
singer April 3rd, AP reports. Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Lopez, Ashanti and
Hilary Duff will compete for best female singer. Best song contenders are
B2K for "Bump, Bump, Bump," Outkast for "Hey Ya," Beyonce for "Crazy in
Love," and "Where is the Love" by Black Eyed Peas.
Role Call: Baldwin To Direct Hoodz
Stephen Baldwin plans to make his directorial debut this summer with a project
based on his own idea, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Baldwin
revealed little about the upcoming project except that it will center around
the attempt by a Mexican-American skateboarder to rally his fellow skater
boys and girls to save their local skate park. Baldwin has a television
series in the works and would probably shoot the project, titled Robbin'
Hoodz, during that show's summer hiatus. Says Baldwin, "Commercially, no
one has accomplished something that truly speaks to the true subculture of