Proving that there’s nothing Hollywood won’t reboot if given then chance, a new Scooby Doo movie is reportedly in the works at Warner Bros. According to Variety, the studio is looking to send Scooby, Shaggy, and the gang on another spooky adventure, which will be written by Randall Green. The news comes just a year after Warner Bros. also announced plans for an animated Scooby Doo movie, which is reportedly still on track. Though the last live-action Mystery Gang outings, 2002’s Scooby Doo and its sequel Monsters Unleashed, did well commercially, they weren’t received well by critics and fans of the series, which is why it’s surprising that Warner Bros. would be so intent at taking a third shot at big-screen adventure. After all, the live-action Scooby Doo’s were only slightly better than Yogi Bear. There are plenty of other great classic Hanna-Barbera properties that would make for great films, so why does Scooby get a third shot at big screen success? Think about all of the possibilities that are open…
Wacky Races Concept: Think The Lego Movie meets Speed Racer, with a touch of Mega Mind thrown in. Plot: Set at the Wacky Races Grand Prix, a sprawling, dangerous race that spans three days and covers a variety of terrains, the film charts the highs and lows of all your favorite racers, from Penelope Pitstop to the Ant Hill Mob to the Gruesome Twosome, and sees Dick Dastardly’s desperate attempts to finally experience the glory for himself. Starring: Charlie Day as Dick Dastardly, Isla Fisher as Penelope Pitstop, Bill Hader as Clyde the leader of the Ant Hill Mob, Amy Poheler as the Red Max, and Tom Hanks as the Narrator. Directed By: Edgar Wright.
Inch High, Private Eye Concept: The Maltese Falcon meets Osmosis Jones.Plot: The city is being terrorized by a robber who keeps stealing priceless works of art and jewels from museums and homes. The police are understaffed, and the detectives are at their wits’ ends, and the case has reached a dead end. Then, Mrs. Gotrocks hires Inch High, Private Eye, the most brilliant and tortured detective around to look into the case. But she might not like what he finds… Casting: Casey Affleck as Inch High, Kate Mara as Lori, Josh Brolin as Gator, Tommy Lee Jones as Mr. Finkerton and June Squibb as Mrs. Gotrocks. Directed By: The Coen Brothers.
Hong Kong Phooey Concept: Think 22 Jump Street, but sillier. Plot: Penry Pooch has always wanted to be a cop, but his enthusiasm for the job doesn’t quite balance out his complete incompetence. After failing out of the police academy, he takes a job working as a janitor under the watchful eye of the constantly frustrated Sergeant. One night, when he’s the only one at the precinct, he stops and apprehends a robber, which inspires him to take up crime fighting as Hong Kong Phooey. Luckily, he’s got Spot to help him out of whatever jams he finds himself in. Casting: Will Arnett as Penry, Keith David as Sarge, Anna Kendrick as Rosemary, the telephone operator, and Nick Frost as Spot. Directed By: Shane Black.
The Jetsons Concept: August: Osage County in space. Plot: George Jetson is an ordinary man, living an ordinary life. He loves his family, endures his job and spends his time relaxing with his dog, Astro. But when he catches his wife having an affair with his boss, his world comes crashing down around him, and he’s forced to re-evaluate everything he knew about his life, and decide whether to move forward or move on. Starring: Joaquin Phoenix as George, Sandra Bullock as Jane, Hailee Steinfeld as Judy, and Steve Buscemi as Mr. Spacely, with Art Parksinson as Elroy and Scarlett Johansson as Rosie. Directed By: Spike Jonze.
JabberJaw Concept: Almost Famous meets Jaws, with a dash of Star Trek .Plot: The Neptunes were on their way to becoming the hottest rock band under the seas, until their drummer abruptly left. Then, they discovered Jabberjaw, a 15-foot-tall shark with the skills of Keith Moon, and it seemed like they had it made. But the path to rock stardom is paved with dangers and it’s time for the Neptunes to face them. Starring: Chris Pratt as Jabberjaw, Adam Levine as Clamhead, Malin Ackerman as Bubbles, Zoe Kravitz as Shelly, and Oscar Isaac as Biff. Directed By: John Carney.
Quick Draw McGraw Concept: A better homage to Blazing Saddles than A Million Ways to Die in the West .Plot: The Wild West is a dangerous place, thanks to outlaws, frequent dueling and a lack of modern medicine, but one man is there to keep order in place, and uphold justice where ever he goes… Sherrif Quick Draw McGraw. Unfortunately, he might have finally met his match when the deadliest outlaw in the west rides into his town. Starring: Damon Wayans Jr. as Quick Draw McGraw and Fred Armisen as Baba Looey.Directed By: Mel Brooks, in an ideal world.
Space Ghost Concept: It’s basically Guardians of the Galaxy, but with a monkey instead of a raccoon. Plot: After Zorak, Space Ghosts’ nemesis, escapes from prison, he recruits Black Widow (no, not that Black Widow) and Brak and Sisto in order to form a league of villains that will take over the galaxy and allow chaos to reign, but in order to do so, they need a gauntlet of power, one that only Space Ghost’s sidekick Jace possesses. Can Space Ghost and Jan rescue him and save the universe before it’s too late? Starring: Channing Tatum as Space Ghost, Emma Stone as Jan, Miles Teller as Jace, Idris Elba as Zorak, Dwayne Johnson as Brak, Jason Statham as Sisto, and Nicole Beharie as Black Widow (see, told you she was different!).Directed By: Joss Whedon, of course.
Top Cat Concept: Dancing on the Edge meets GoodFellas.Plot: Set in the 1940s, a group of rag-tag musicians are groomed to become a proper jazz sensation. But in order to do so, they’ll have to overcome prejudice, corrupt managers, in-fighting, and substance abuse and stick by each other through everything. Starring: Anthony Mackie as TC, Lamorne Morris as Brain, Albert Tsai as Choo-Choo, Michael B. Jordan as Fancy-Fancy, Josh Gad as Benny the Ball, Ruth Negga as Trixie, and Sean Penn as Officer Dibble.Directed By: Martin Scorsese.
You're welcome, Hollywood.
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
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Each week, Hollywood gives us something to whine about, and the week of Feb.11 was no different. We could make a drinking game out of this week, but that would be too dangerous. Instead, we'll stick to the usual formula: varying levels of alcoholic respite depending on how bothersome the week's issues are. Is your biggest complaint this week a flimsy one? How about a light cocktail to take the edge off? Got a real bone to pick with a celeb or entertainment entity this week? Go ahead, grab a drink that'll put hair on your chest. Here are the week's entertainment stories that are forcing us to seek a bubbly or boozy refuge. And maybe an idea or two about how you should wash them down.
Take It Easy With a Little Mulled Wine. What? It Has Fruit In It.
Happy Endings Can't Catch a Break: Our favorite gaggle of Chicagoans can’t seem to find a spot that sticks in ABC’s lineup. Now, they’re occupying the death-slot: Friday nights. Pray for Penny and her a-mah-zing friends, people!
Lady Gaga Can't Go On With Her Tour: But that just leaves us wondering, she was still on tour?
Once again, No One is Watching Community: Then again, if the NBC cult favorite was raking in huge ratings, we’d have to wonder what tragedy took place to settle out the balance.
Britney Might Have Milli-Vanilli'd "Scream and Shout": Perhaps it's time for another cleansing comeback?
Let Loose With a Girly Cocktail. We Won't Tell Your Buddies About It.
Can Melissa McCarthy Please Get a Decent Role?: Our girl is hilarious, so why’s she stuck playing the same character over and over?
"Beiber Feuds" is Now a Legitimate News Beat: Really, Biebs? Now you’re fighting with The Black Keys? The Hamster League of America wasn’t enough for you?
We're Still Having a Hard Time Admitting We Didn't Like Frank Ocean's Grammy Performance: We love you, Frank. But we’re just trying to forget your Grammys number happened.
This Poor Woman Gets Confused with Kim Kardashian "All The Time": Kim Kashkashian won a Grammy, but the poor lady still has to tell people she’s not dating Kanye.
Nope. Throw in The Towel and Make Whatever You're Drinking a Double.
Brangelina’s Daughter Probably Makes More Money Than You: Four-year-old Vivienne Jolie-Pitt reportedly raked in $3,000 a week for her work as Baby Aurora in Maleficent, and apparently, that shouldn’t surprise us.
Chubby Checker is No Longer The Man Who Gave Us "The Twist": Unfortunately, Chubby now has to defend his good name thanks to a penis-measuring app that shares his name. Just think about it for a second.
Nicholas Sparks Says Gay Romance Isn't Really His Genre: And that makes sense how?
Taylor Swift is Still An Obnoxious Awards Show Attendee: Look, we're all about having fun at an awards show, but did Swifty really need to act like a 12-year-old at a Justin Bieber concert?
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"Of course you realize," a great man (well, anthropomorphic cross-dressing rabbit) once said, "this means war."
Whether you deem warfare a contemptible crime puppeteered by ivory tower politicians or a necessary evil through which the common patriot can uphold the bounties of his beliefs, it has proven — at least so far — to be inevitable. Fury can break out between any two parties, be they countries with conflicting ideologies or survivalist tribes vying for the meatiest beefalo hide. Or, most frequently, between professional music artists who just don't really seem to like each other.
The latest industrial blitzkrieg to overwhelm the headlines faces Justin Bieber against The Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney. Following Carney's reported suggestion that Bieber doesn't need or deserve a Grammy Award — the musician told TMZ, "Grammys are for like, music, not for money ... and he's making a lot of money. He should be happy." — the "Believe" singer took to Twitter with a retaliatory message: "the black keys drummer should be slapped around haha"
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Now, you might be inclined to shrug off this sort of exchange, thinking it no more than a round of inconsequential venting. But while rational human beings might be able to step away from a contentious back-and-forth, dedicated to nipping the issue in the bud then and there, we're dealing with musicians here.
And so we say... Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.
As one last peaceful moon rises over the music industry, we sigh with calm and contemplate this flickering inferno. If you think the madness will stay contained to Bieber and Carney, you carry with you the sort of naïveté most of us pray nightly to procure. No, sir — war is a team sport.
Obviously, Carney has his bandmate on his side: Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach. But what might not be so readily obvious is the remainder of troupes who'll line up to support the "Lonely Boy" duo. The Keys (do people call them that? am I out of touch?) have collaborated with the likes of a handful of respected artists with passionate followings:
Team Keys: Mos Def — I'm sorry, he goes by Yasiin Bey now, RZA, Jim Jones, Pharoahe Monch, Q-Tip, director Harmony Korine
What the underdog squad has in its corner is moxy. Heart. Raw talent. Lasting reverence. And as far as any sports movie made between the years of 1983 and 1999 is concerned, that's all you need to take the gold.
RELATED: The 2013 Grammys: 9 Movie-Inspired Moments — GALLERY
But in this unfortunately real-life circumstance, can the BKs (how about that? is that better?) compete with the superpower status of Bieber's militia?
Team Bieber: Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Usher, Sean Kingston, Carly Rae Jepson, Boyz II Men
Here's where the might comes in. Bieber has a practical Justice League of music superstars at his disposal. While the bunch may not enjoy the same critical favor that the Blackeys (nope, worst one yet) do, their record sales speak for themselves. And if not, they have tons of hired reps on hand to speak for them. "No comment."
Officiating: Ludacris, as he's collaborated with both parties.
And now, we wait. We wait with brows sweating and mouths drying as an apocalyptic cataclysm readies to engulf the headlines in whole. Who will come out the victor? Who will be lost to the ravenous flames of buzzworthy animosity? And when — pray tell, when — will the atrocities end?
Why can't we all just be more like Adele?
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter.
[Photo Credit: WENN (2)]
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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.
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.