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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Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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October, 2012: a time for frights and scares, ghouls and dares—it's Halloween on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, family of America's favorite pageant queen, Honey Boo Boo/Smoochie/Alana Thompson. Everyone was here! Uncle Poodle, all the girls, and Sugar Bear—who has been renamed Spooky Bear for the holiday festivities in 2013's post-holiday world. It was over-the-top, ridiculous, and everything you'd expect from one of the most unconventional families on television.
And, as is the way with the McIntyre, Georgia clan: s**t got real messy. In fact, messes of all kinds seemed to punctuate the episode, from Pumkin's penchant for grossing people out unidentifiable objects from the outdoors! June was a mess! Uncle Poodle was a mess! Pumkin was a mess! Poor Sugar Bear's legs, too, were also a mess. But that's life, eh? Messy. The family, of course, threw in some costumes and candy for good measure. Lots of candy. Pumpkins and Pumpkins! This family was made for days like Halloween.
The episode is sure to spawn a thousand GIFs, as the family's no-holds-barred attitude was on full display—even Sugar Bear (who we saw in the hospital and unable to walk at the beginning of the episode) was letting his feelings be heard. And for that, June was ready for him to get back to work.
But a lot of planning goes into a Very Honey Boo Boo Halloween (you better redneckognize!): there are pumpkins to be picked, costumes to be worn, and candy to be consumed. But not without a few side-stories along the way. First, the family goes pumpkin picking on a farm equipped with metal barrel cows to cart them all around the farm. Chants of "Corn!" and "We're gonna die!" filled the crisp autumnal air.
It is here that we learn the definition of wop-sided. You see, to be wop-sided means to be just like Mama June: flat in the back with a big belly. But Mama cries foul: she's not wop-sided, she's curveous. The nerve of family, huh? It didn't stop there, though, as the family's seemingly-ritualistic antics of throwing things at each other continues with balls. The balls, they went flying. Balls everywhere. So many balls, so little time! Poor Mama June went and got herself a ball to the face. That's when it was game over. The girls tried to escape the wrath of Mama, and left Sugar Bear and Kaitlyn behind to fend for themselves in the process—up a thumb, but down two working legs.
Before Halloween's evening of costumery and dress-up, June wanted a bit of a makeover for herself. The girls help her go blonde, which was...a mistake. Let's just be frank and state what all the girls said, and what we're all thinking: she looks a mess. June, blonde is so not your color. Go for a warm chestnut brown if you want a makeover! Something with a lot of depth of tone to it: blonde just washes you out, Coupon Queen. Though this was not the only opinion in the room: June actually loved it. And Sugar Bear really loved it.
"Seeing June as a blonde would definitely make my loins perk up." Frisky McBrisky over here was ready to go—all episode long Sugar Bear was in the mood for some affection from his lady. June was not having it, though. Even threats of a black-crusted biscuit wouldn't deter the fire of Sugar Bear's desire.
But enough of all that mushy love stuff: it's time to get messy again! Bring on the pumpkins and an Uncle Poodle for good measure. Almost immediately, pumpkin seeds and guts went flying. They were shoved, caressed, smooshed, and flung onto every body part, and into several orifices. Caught in the crossfire and then used as a plaything, Kaitlyn's face was covered in seeds: she looked like a sesame seed bun and inspired cravings for burgers. Uncle Poodle put the wop-sided pumpkin on his head and, of course, got stuck.
After Uncle Poodle bashed his own, giant pumpkin head in The Great Mayonnaise Experiment began. Mayonnaise, you see, is the devil, according to Mama June. Unless it's in a potato or tuna salad that somebody else makes (then she'll eat it and it's OK), but mostly, it holds a great psychological power. Long ago when June was just a wee bairn, June had a babysitter who was possibly part monster (because there's really no excuse for this) or alien, as she would only feed them mayonnaise sandwiches for every.single.meal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, sketti time: mayonnaise on white bread and nothing else. It's time to face the fear, Mama June—there are so many coupons for mayonnaise, Coupon Queen! You have to overcome it for the good of the DEALS!
Alana is on a mission to cure her mother. It is her quest to bring peace and joy to every member of her family: quelling every fear with the flick of her wrist and the shake of her head. Her mama will not be afraid of no mayonnaise Honey Boo Boo, child! So she empties three jumbo-sized jars of mayo into a bowl and presents it to her mother, who immediately retches. June's chest tightens and her throat closes up as she covers her eyes, aquiver with fear. Get thee mayo away! She rushes from the room, overcome with what we can only imagine to be post-traumatic stress disorder. Alana's verdict? "It tastes like vanilla ice cream." Hmmm…they must be a Cool Whip family. In the end, all was not lost, as we did learn something: the jury might still be out on the vegetarianess of mayonnaise, but marannaise does not have meat in it—this we know definitively.
Then came time for the ancient tale of the Fart Ghost. You know Fart Ghost, of course, don't you? It's Fart Ghost! The ghost that you can smell before he enters a room. I believe his origins begin in 1640s era Paris, France. His name was Pepe LePew (I'll pause here for the sake of your uproarious, never-ending laughter at that joke). Fart Ghost seems to follow the family wherever they go. Perhaps he feels a kindred spirit in this flatulent family.
Down at Kackleberry Farms, a corn maze finds itself playing the role of outdoor bathroom for Mama June, who—while stuck in the seemingly never-ending maze—needs to pee, real bad. So she blazes a trail to the middle of the maze's corny barriers and takes a quick pee. Oh, there was also a giant bouncy pillow, some bellowing, and a zip line.
But this was just a precursor to: Costumes! Alana wants a costume made of bacon, but they're fresh out. Aww shucks! She settles for a blue "power wig" (Shh! It's a wig!) to help her make the right decision. They decide that Kaitlyn needs to either be a cheeseball or a crab (you know, because her extra thumb looks like crab claw. Their words, not mine! I don't like to make fun of children). Then Sugar Bear and Mama dress up with afros and caftans and call themselves "village people" in a moment that was seconds away from feeling sort of racist? The show moves on quickly, thankfully.
In the end, the family decided on the following: a hot dog costume for Kaitlyn, with coordinating ketchup and mustard bottles for her mom and aunt Jessica. Alana was a gothic vampire. Sugar Bear was an actual bear that Alana accessorized with a pound of sugar. June was Marilyn Monroe for 3 seconds, which turned Sugar Bear into Horny Bear. But June was not a fan of the dress' lack of modesty, so Mama became a Mummy…or a crap paper monster, according to the girls.
Pumkin got hit in the face with keys thanks to Sugar Bear, and is on bedrest and antibiotics to stop her eye from bleeding. So she can't go trick-or-treating. But have no fear! Alana gets her an eyepatch with a mini-pumpkin bucket covering the eye—enough for a few pieces of candy! They promise to bring back extra candy for Pumkin. And did they ever! Alana and Co. ended up in the rich part of town, with a mission: to bogart as much of the best candy as possible. Four bags each (!!!) later, it wasn't all confectioner's delights: somebody gave them dental floss! (The horror, the horror!) There were even a few pieces of fruit (the horror, continued!), but the family knew what to do with those: throw 'em to the deer before s** gets messy.
What did you think of tonight's Halloween-themed episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo? Let us know in the comments!
[Photo Credit: TLC]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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The beloved actor passed away peacefully at his Los Angeles home on Thursday (23Jun11).
Falk was born in New York in 1927 and enjoyed a career spanning 50 years.
He broke into the acting industry in 1956 when he landed a role in an off-Broadway production of Moliere's play Don Juan. That same year, he made his Broadway debut in Diary of a Scoundrel.
He later shifted his focus onto TV and film work, but he was warned early on not to expect too much success due to a glass eye he had implanted at the age of three - after doctors found a malignant tumour in his right eye.
However, he defied Hollywood agents and scored his film debut with a small role in Wind Across the Everglades in 1958. Two years later (60), Falk appeared as gangster Abe Reles in Murder, Inc - the same year he married first wife Alyce Mayo, with whom he has adopted daughters Catherine and Jackie. The movie was a hit with critics and earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 1961.
Murder, Inc. proved to be Falk's break-out role, and he would go on to reprise the role again in 1960s TV series The Witness.
Meanwhile, his film career continued to rise with a part in Frank Capra's 1961 comedy Pocketful of Miracles - another Oscar-nominated role - and parts in director pal John Cassavetes' movies Husbands (1970) and A Woman Under the Influence (1974).
But it was Falk's turn as Lieutenant Columbo in the hit TV crime series Columbo that he is best known for. The programme aired on U.S. network NBC between 1971 and 1978, and later moved to ABC, where it was shown from 1989 to 2003. The role won Falk four Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe.
Falk suffered from deteriorating health towards the end of his life, suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
His personal life hit the headlines in January 2009 when his daughter Catherine, a real life private detective, battled Falk's second wife, actress Shera Danese, to be named conservator of his estate. Catherine claimed her father also had dementia and could no longer care for himself.
Falk is survived by Danese, whom he married in 1977, and his two children.
Making an earnest cinematic argument for the immortality of the soul and the existence of an afterlife without delving into mushy sentimentality is a difficult task for even the most gifted and “serious” of filmmakers. Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson discovered as much last year when his sappy grandiose adaptation of the ethereal bestseller The Lovely Bones opened to scathing reviews. Critics by and large tend to bristle at movie renderings of what may or may not await them in that Great Arthouse in the Sky.
And yet filmmakers seem determined to keep trying. The latest to make the attempt is Clint Eastwood who throughout his celebrated directorial career has certainly demonstrated a firm grasp of the death part of the equation. His filmography with a few notable exceptions practically revels in it: of his recent oeuvre Invictus is the only work that doesn’t deal with mortality in some significant manner. With his new film Hereafter Eastwood hopes to add immortality to his thematic resume.
The film's narrative centers on three characters each of whom has intimate experience with death and loss. Their stories in true Eastwood fashion can ostensibly be labeled Sad Sadder and Saddest: Marie (Cecile de France) is a French TV news anchor who’s haunted by disturbing flashbacks after she loses consciousness — and briefly her life — during a natural disaster; George (Matt Damon looking credibly schlubby) is a former psychic whose skills as a medium are so potent (the slightest touch from another human being triggers an instant powerful psychic connection a la Rogue from X-Men) they’ve left him isolated and alone; Marcus is a London schoolboy who retreats into a somber shell after losing his twin brother in a tragic car accident (both brothers are played rather impressibly by real-life twins Frankie and George McLaren).
Humanity offers little help to these troubled souls surrounding them with skeptics charlatans users and deadbeats none of whom are particularly helpful with crises of an existential nature. Luckily there are otherworldly options. Peter Morgan's script assumes psychics out-of-body experiences and other such phenomena to be real and legitimate but in a non-denominational Coast-to-Coast AM kind of way. Unlike Jackson’s syrupy CGI-drenched glimpses of the afterlife Eastwood’s visions of the Other Side are vague and eery — dark fuzzy silhouettes of the departed set against a white background. Only Damon’s character George seems capable of drawing meaning from them which is why he’s constantly sought out by grief-stricken folks desperate to make contact with loved ones who’ve recently passed on. He’s John Edward only real (and not a douche).
Marie and Marcus appear destined to find him as well but only as the last stop on wearisome circuitous and often heartbreaking spiritual journeys that together with George’s hapless pursuit of a more temporal connection (psychic ability it turns out can be a wicked cock-blocker) consume the bulk of Hereafter’s running time. We know the three characters’ paths must inevitably intersect but Morgan’s script stubbornly forestalls this eventuality testing our patience for nearly two ponderous and maudlin hours and ultimately building up expectations for a climax Eastwood can’t deliver at least not without sacrificing any hope of credulity.
It should be noted that Hereafter features a handful of genuinely touching moments thanks in great part to the film's tremendous cast. And its finale is refreshingly upbeat. Unfortunately it also feels forced and terribly unsatisfying. Eastwood an established master of all things tragic and forlorn struggles mightily to mount a happy ending. (Which in my opinion is much more challenging than a sad or ambiguous one.) After prompting us to seriously ponder life’s ultimate question Eastwood’s final answer seems to be: Don’t worry about it.