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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It’s been said that lightning doesn’t strike twice. But how have the following actresses been able to star on more than two successful shows? With so many actresses cursed to star on failed TV shows, these actresses all seem to have the golden touch to make a series last. They have all been series regulars on television shows that have taken off and lasted insanely long ... in some cases unnecessarily long.
Thorne-Smith has bright blue eyes, a slightly raspy voice, and a general likable folksiness. She starred in Melrose Place from day one. Despite initial bumps in the road, the series went on to last seven seasons partly because of her on-again/off-again relationship with Andrew Shue (who was never heard from again). Ally McBeal became a huge must-see series with the insane antics of an off-beat law firm. It lasted five seasons and launched the careers of Calista Flockhart, Lucy Liu, Jane Krakowski, and Portia de Rossi. Then despite all sense of rhyme or reason, According to Jim managed to last eight seasons.
Garth managed to do the impossible. She was on both a series and its reboot and both did extremely well. She was on the wildly successful Beverly Hills 90210 and managed to star on the show for a startling ten seasons. When the series was rebooted, she was the anchor to tie the new series, 90210, to the original. She didn’t stay on the series, but it did go on to last a respectable five seasons. This is a great achievement considering the number of television channels grew exponentially since the original series hit the airwaves. She also played Amanda Bynes’ older sister for the five season run of What I Like About You.
Malick has the perfect blend of beauty, brains, and comedic genius that it’s no wonder she can help keep a series on the air. She has done a million guest spots but has helped more than a few series find their groove. She starred on HBO’s T&A comedy Dream On with Brian Benben. It lasted six seasons, which is a lot for a series on premium cable in the early '90s. She then starred in the eight seasons of NBC’s Just Shoot Me. Now, she’s currently lending her magic to Hot in Cleveland, already in its fifth season.
Holly Marie Combs
Did someone say magic? Combs is best be remembered for playing Piper, a witch that could freeze time on Charmed for eight seasons. The series held the record for the longest running series with an all-female cast until it was eclipsed by Desperate Housewives. Combs started her career playing Kimberly Brock on the David E. Kelly series Picket Fences, which lasted a respectable four seasons. She is currently starring on Pretty Little Liars. It has five seasons under its belt and shows no sign of ending anytime soon.
Cuoco is plucky, pretty, and a great addition to any television show. Cuoco starred on 8 Simple Rules which survived a notable name change and the loss of comedic genius John Ritter, and lasted a respectable three seasons. She also joined the cast for the final season of Charmed without causing a jump the shark situation. She has done voice-over work on shows like Brandy & Mr. Whiskers and 6Teen which have lasted more than one season. Most notably, she is starring on The Big Bang Theory. It’s in its seventh season and still going strong.
Sagal is the definitive actress with the magic touch. She has managed the impossible more than once. She starred in Married With Children which helped launch the Fox network. She starred on 8 Simple Rules with Cuoco, and helped the series survive. She lent her lovely voice to Futurama as the voice of one-eyed beauty Turanga Leela. The sci-fi animated series went on to last seven seasons, four movies, and multiple cancellations. She’s currently flexing her dramatic muscle in FX’s dark biker drama, Sons of Anarchy as matriarch Gemma Morrow. Not only is she great at playing a mother, she’s great at being a mother to a successful series.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.