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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The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
Fantasy prevailed over reality this weekend as Steven Spielberg's fact-based Catch Me If You Can failed to con its way past the chimerical The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Together, however, they helped make the last weekend of 2002 the biggest Christmas weekend in box office history.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the second installment of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, wore the box office crown again with a regal $48.9 million*, while Catch Me If You Can managed to snare second place, bagging a crafty $30 million.
Marred by unfavorable reviews, Pinocchio--the only other film to open nationwide Friday--lumbered its way into theaters with a painfully truthful $1.1 million, averaging $954 in 1,195 theaters.
Gangs of New York expanded onto 686 more screens and made a bit of headway, scrounging another $11.2 million.
The top 12 films this weekend grossed $157 million--up 6.8 percent from last year when they totaled $147 million.
THE TOP TEN
New Line Cinema's PG-13 fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers hardly lost any sovereignty in its second week at the box office with a strong ESTIMATED $48.9 million (-21% at 3,622 theaters; $12,508 per theater).
After 12 days of release and a cume of approximately $200.1 million, The Two Towers is outpacing its predecessor The Fellowship of the Ring, which charmed audiences to the tune of $174 million in its first two weeks.
Directed by Peter Jackson, The Two Towers stars Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Ian Mckellen, Orlando Bloom and Liv Tyler.
DreamWorks' PG-13 rated crime biopic Catch Me If You Can failed to catch the No. 1 spot, but still bilked an impressive ESTIMATED $30 million from moviegoers at 3,156 theaters ($9,506 per theater).
Catch Me If You Can is based on the true story of Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., a successful con artist who assumed several different identities, all the while skirting an FBI agent hot on his trail.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen and Nathalie Baye.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice dropped a notch to third place with an ESTIMATED $16.1 million at 2,755 theaters ($5,849 per theater) in its second week. Its cume is approximately $43.6 million.
Directed by Marc D. Lawrence, it stars Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant.
Another romantic comedy, Sony Picture's PG-13 rated Maid in Manhattan, followed in fourth place in its third week with an ardent ESTIMATED $13 million (+21%) at 2,938 theaters (+72 theaters; $4,425 per theater). Its cume is approximately $57.4 million.
Directed by Wayne Wang, it stars Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Miramax Films' R rated period drama Gangs of New York fought its way down to fifth place in its second week with an ESTIMATED $11.2 million (+18%) at 2,190 theaters (+686 theaters; $5,114 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30.1 million.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis.
Twentieth Century Fox's sleeper hit, the PG-13 rated musical comedy Drumline, skipped one beat down to sixth place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $8.3 million (+17%) at 1,668 theaters -169 theaters; $5,006 per theater). Its cume is approximately $36.8 million, heading for $50 million.
Directed by Charles Stone, III, it stars Nick Cannon, Orlando Jones and Zoe Saldana.
Paramount Pictures' PG rated animated family pic The Wild Thornberrys Movie dropped a peg to seventh place with an ESTIMATED $7.4 million at 3,012 theaters ($2,457 per theater). Its cume is approximately $18.4 million.
Written and directed by Jeff McGrath and Cathy Malkasian, it features the voices of Lacey Chabert, Tom Kane, Rupert Everett, Lynn Redgrave and Marisa Tomei.
Warner Bros.' PG rated fantasy sequel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets gained a spot and finished eighth in its seventh week with an ESTIMATED $6.5 million (+49%) at 2,505 theaters (-245 theaters; $2,599 per theater). Its cume is approximately $240.3 million.
Directed by Chris Columbus, it stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.
Buena Vista's PG-13 rated comedy The Hot Chick slipped to ninth place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $4.8 million (+5%) at 2,246 theaters (+29 theaters; $2,137 per theater). Its cume is approximately $22.2 million.
Directed by Tom Brady, it stars Rob Schneider and Rachel McAdams.
Rounding out the Top 10 was MGM's PG-13 rated spy actioner Die Another Day, which remained in tenth place with an ESTIMATED $4.5 million (+10%) at 1,875 theaters (-200 theaters; $2,373 per theater). Its cume is approximately $146.7 million.
Directed by Lee Tamahori, it stars Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry.
Miramax's G rated fantasy adaptation Pinocchio opened wide with a disappointing ESTIMATED $1.1 million at 1,195 theaters--with a wooden $954 per theater.
The film is a remake of the classic children's tale, which centers on a wooden puppet who wants to become a real boy.
Dirceted by Roberto Benigni, it stars Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi and Carlo Giuffre.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
This weekend also saw the arrival of four new limited releases, including Chicago, The Hours, The Pianist and Nicholas Nickleby.
Miramax's PG-13 musical Chicago opened with an ESTIMATED $2.1 million at 77 theaters, with a whopping $27,299 per theater average. The film expands Jan. 3.
Chicago is based on the 1975 Kander & Ebb/Bob Fosse Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn had three predecessors: the 1942 film Roxie Hart, starring Ginger Rogers, a 1927 silent film titled Chicago and, finally, the original play by Maurine Dallas Watkins.
Directed by Rob Marshall, it stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere.
Paramount's PG-13-rated literary drama The Hours opened to a solid $0.3 million at 11 theaters, with a per theater average of $40,000--the highest of any film this week. The film goes wide on Jan. 17.
The Hours revolves around three very different women--one being Virginia Woolf--in various time periods, all wrestling with issues of freedom, responsibility and identity.
Directed by Stephen Daldry, the film stars Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Ed Harris and Claire Danes.
Focus Features' R rated drama The Pianist opened with an ESTIMATED $0.1 million at 6 theaters, with a $17,342 per theater average.
The film is based on the autobiography of the acclaimed Polish composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman, detailing his survival during World War II and his narrow escape from a roundup that sent his family to a death camp.
Directed by Roman Polanski, the film stars Adrien Brody.
Finally, MGM released the PG rated drama Nicholas Nickleby, which opeend to an ESTIMATED $.04 million at 5 theaters, with an estimated $8,600 per theater average.
The film is an adaptation of the classic novel by Charles Dickens.
Directed by Doug McGrath, it stars Charlie Hunnam, Jamie Bell, Nathan Lane, Christopher Plummer, Jim Broadbent and Anne Hathaway.
The top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $157.1 million, up about 18.47 percent from last weekend when they totaled $132.6 million.
The top 12 were also up 6.8 percent from last year when they totaled $147 million.
Last year, New Line's second weekend of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was first with $38.6 million at 3,359 theaters ($11,520 per theater); and Warner Bros.' fourth week of Ocean's Eleven was second with $16.9 million at 3,075 theaters ($5,498 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $55.5 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $90.4 million.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Supermodel Christy Turlington and Ed Burns have broken up. The couple, who were supposed to get married last October but postponed their wedding plans after Sept. 11, reportedly called it quits a month ago -- with no third party involved. According to PageSix.com, the split became apparent after Burns was seen at L.A. Oscar parties sans Turlington.
A spokeswoman for Spears is blaming the singer's brief appearance at the London premiere of her movie Crossroads on security problems, the Associated Press reports. "It was deemed a security risk by all involved for her to venture too far into the crowds," she told the AP. "Safety has to be paramount, not just for Britney but for her fans."
New Line Home Entertainment has announced that two different versions of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring will be available on both DVD and VHS formats on Aug. 6 and Nov. 12. The August release, a PG-13 double DVD, will contain sneak previews as well as a 10-minute behind-the-scenes preview of The Two Towers and more than two hours of extra content. Then in November, the special extended DVD will contain more than 30 minutes of never-before-seen footage created specifically for home video release and will likely have an R rating.
The cast and crew of the children's TV show Ricky's Room plan to protest the Toronto premiere of Death to Smoochy Friday, claiming the costumed rhino in the film looks too much like Ricky the Rhino. Kaboom Entertainment, the show's producers, met with lawyers Tuesday to discuss taking legal action against the film, the Toronto Star reports. Ricky's Room is produced in Toronto and airs on U.S. public television stations.
Artisan Entertainment has signed a six-figure deal for the rights to Sherron Watkins' life story, including the rights to her upcoming book Power Failure, Variety reports. Watkins, you may recall, is Enron's vice president of corporate development who warned her boss Ken Lay of a possible whistle blower in the company's accounting. The book is expected out this fall.
John Travolta is in early talks to star in Touchstone Picture's Mr. 3000. According to Variety, Travolta would play a surly Hall of Famer who comes out of retirement after three of his past base hits are disallowed, dropping him below the esteemed 3,000-hit plateau, and rediscovers a love for the game as he mentors a rookie. Thelma & Louise scribe Callie Khouri is also in negotiations to helm the pic.
Jim Carrey will reunite with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective director Tom Shadyac for the upcoming comedy Bruce Almighty. According to Variety, Carrey will play a whiny guy who constantly questions why God gives him so much grief. He is then given almighty power for 24 hours to see how hard it is to run the world. Shooting will begin in July.
Country-music legend Loretta Lynn has written a sequel to her 1976 autobiography, Coal Miner's Daughter. In Still Woman Enough: A Memoir, which will be released Sunday, Lynn reveals secrets and events she left out of Coal Miner's Daughter, Launch.com reports.
After deliberating for 18 hours, a jury convicted Ralf Panitz of killing his ex-wife hours after they and his current wife appeared in an episode of the Jerry Springer Show about secret mistresses. Panitz, 42, was found guilty of second-degree murder and could face life in prison for the slaying.
CNN's Aaron Brown talked to the Philadelphia Inquirer about his competitor, Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren, who recently had an eye lift. "She went off the air (on CNN) looking great," he said. "She came on the air looking like a 25-year-old cheerleader." Van Susteren left CNN for Fox in September. Earlier this month, Brown lost in the ratings when Van Susteren interviewed Tonya Harding but said he didn't mind, adding that the network should change its motto to "fair, balanced and sometimes silly."
Once again, Napster has had to postpone the re-launch of its copyright-friendly service. A statement on its Web site reads, "We're getting closer to a settlement with the major record companies that would clear away our legal troubles...but we're taking some more time to make sure we get the very best deals we can....We think that's worth fighting for, and we're willing to push back our launch until we have it." No date has been set, but Reuters reported Wednesday that Napster CEO Konrad Hilbers told FT Deutschland it may be another nine months.