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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Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
For a film that involves a love triangle, mental illness, a Bohemian colony of free-spirits, an impending war and several important historical figures, the most exciting elements of Summer in February are the stunning shots of the English country and Cornish seaside. The rest of the film never quite lives up to the crashing waves and sun-dappled meadows that are used to bookend the scenes, as the entertaining opening never manages to coalesce into a story that lives up the the cinematography, let alone the lives of the people that inspired it.
Set in an Edwardian artist’s colony in Cornwall, Summer in February tells the story of A.J. Munnings (Dominic Cooper), who went on to become one of the most famous painters of his day and head of the Royal Academy of Art, his best friend, estate agent and part-time soldier Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens), and the woman whom they both loved, aspiring artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). Her marriage to Munnings was an extremely unhappy one, and she attempted suicide on their honeymoon, before killing herself in 1914. According to his journals, Gilbert and Florence were madly in love, although her marriage and his service in the army kept them apart.
When the film begins, Munnings is the center of attention in the Lamorna Artist's Colony, dramatically reciting poetry at parties and charming his way out of his bar tab while everyone around him proclaims him to be a genius. When he’s not drinking or painting, he’s riding horses with Gilbert, who has the relatively thankless task of keeping this group of Bohemians in line. Their idyllic existence is disrupted by the arrival of Florence, who has run away from her overbearing father and the fiancé he had picked out for her in order to become a painter.
Stevens and Browning both start the film solidly, with enough chemistry between them to make their infatuation interesting. He manages to give Gilbert enough dependable charm to win over both Florence and the audience, and she presents Florence as someone with enough spunk and self-possession to go after what she wants. Browning’s scenes with Munnings are equally entertaining in the first third of the film, as she can clearly see straight through all of his bravado and he is intrigued by her and how difficult she is to impress. Unfortunately, while the basis of the love triangle is well-established and entertaining, it takes a sudden turn into nothing with a surprise proposal from Munnings.
Neither the film nor Browning ever make it clear why Florence accepts his proposal, especially when they have both taken great pains to establish that she doesn’t care much for him. But once she does, the films stalls, and both Stevens and Browning spend the rest of the film doing little more than staring moodily and longingly at the people around them. The real-life Florence was plagued by depression and mental instability, but neither the film nor Browning’s performance ever manage to do more than give the subtlest hint at that darkness. On a few occasions, Browning does manage to portray a genuine anguish, but rather than producing any sympathy from the audience, it simply conjures up images of a different film, one that focused more on Florence, and the difficulties of being a woman with a mental illness at a time when both were ignored or misunderstood.
Stevens is fine, and Gilbert starts out with the same kind of good-guy appeal the won the heart of Mary Crawley and Downton Abbey fans the world over. However, once the film stalls, so does his performance, and he quickly drops everything that made the character attractive or interesting in favor of longing looks and long stretches of inactivity. He does portray a convincing amount of adoration for Florence, although that's about the only real emotion that Gilbert expresses for the vast majority of the film, and even during his love scene, he never manages to give him any amount of passion.
Cooper does his best with what he’s given, and tries his hardest to imbue the film with some substance and drama. His Munnings is by turns charming, brash, and brooding, the kind of person who has been told all of their life that they are special, and believes it. He even manages to give the character some depth, and even though he and Browning have very little chemistry, he manages to convey a genuine affection for her. It’s a shame that Munnings becomes such a deeply unlikable character, because Cooper is the only thing giving Summer in February a jolt of life – even if it comes via bursts of thinly-explained hostility. It's hard to watch just how hard he's working to connect with his co-stars and add some excitement to a lifeless script and not wish that he had a better film to show off his talents in.
Unfortunately, by the time Florence and Gilbert are finally spurred into activity, the film has dragged on for so long that you’re no longer invested in the characters, their pain, or their love story, even if you want to be. Which is the real disappointment of Summer in February; underneath the stalled plot and the relatively one-note acting, there are glimmers of a fascinating and compelling story that’s never allowed to come to the forefront.
Let’s get straight to it shall we? This week’s edition of Leanne’s Spoiler List features five fantastic shows. From dramas to comedies and even dramadies, this week’s lineup has everything your little heart could desire. I uncovered talk crucial and painful secrets from this week’s Game of Thrones and chatted with a Glee star about Thursday’s incredibly intense episode.
Read on for tons of Revolution scoop from Billy Burke in anticipation for next week’s shocking episode, and get excited to learn all about the hilarious antics from the always-funny Go On. Last — but most certainly not least — I watched the Season 5 premiere of Nurse Jackie to bring you all the drama from this week’s exciting episode. Ready, set, enjoy TV Lovers!
1. Game of Thrones: A Game-Changing Injury
Good news for A Song of Ice and Fire lovers: a major, game-changing plot point from the books that you have been waiting to see is finally going to happen this Sunday. Yes, this tidbit of a spoiler is kind of vague, but this is definitely something you'll have to wait to see for the full effect. Otherwise, the powers that be at HBO might strike us down and mount our heads on spikes for all of King's Landing to see!
In the last few minutes of Sunday's episode, a major player — you either love them, hate them, or hate that you love them — suffers an injury, in a moment that ends up becoming a major turning point for this character. Did you hate them before? Well, you might change your mind over the next few episodes. Trust me, the Hollywood.com crew is all a flutter about this one!
The injury won't only mentally (and, duh, physically) effect this particular character, it will also impact the decisions they make going forward, and their relationships with the people around them. Will this mystery character be spurned to take revenge on the person responsible? Tune in Sunday night to find out. (And hey, fans of the books — please be kind about not further spoiling in the comments! We have Wikipedia for that.)
2. Go On: Ashes to Ashes
This season of Go On has been a delightful and almost unexpected treat. I’ve found myself looking forward to this quirky comedy each and every week and now I’m sad to see it go. Don’t leave me, Chandler Bing! Ryan and the Go On gang have come so far this season and Anne wants to ensure that despite her failed wedding, she is still a successful leader of the group.
In Thursday’s finale. “Urn-ed Run,” Ryan — with the help of the group — decides that the time is finally right for him to lay his wife’s ashes to rest. But here’s the big question: Where’s the best place for Janie to be sprinkled for all eternity? Also, how can we get Mr. K to stop eating candles?
In a delightful surprise, Go On fans are treated to flashbacks of Ryan and Janie’s wedding day in which we learn that the big day, was almost a little too big for Janie to handle. (Ahem… the entire LA Kings team was there. Sticks and all.) Ryan is doing his best to find the absolute perfect resting place and after a hilarious — and apparently delicious — first run, fans will get teary end when they see the final spot.
3. Nurse Jackie: Fresh Faces and Flashbacks
In today’s TV world there are plenty of hospital dramas that will grab your attention and keep you ferociously engaged for the entire episode—but how many of them also make you laugh? Nurse Jackie has always been perfect at toeing that line between drama and comedy and I can’t begin to describe how excited I am for Season 5 to premiere this Sunday.
I have magical powers (and access to the Showtime press website) so I’m lucky enough to have already seen the premiere episode, “Happy F**king Birthday.” Let me just begin by saying that Jackie is back and better than ever! An overturned bus creates a crazy day at All Saints and it doesn’t help that the new trauma doctor is MIA and a new face — whom I’m going to call Slutty Barbie Doctor — is too busy flirting her way through the day.
I don’t want to give away too much from the amazing premiere so here are four quick facts that you can look forward to: There will be strawberry condoms lodged in one of the most uncomfortable places. Fans will get to witness some beautiful flashbacks into Jackie’s past when life was easy and eyeliner wasn’t a problem on picture day. Zoey will have an epiphany regarding her living situation. And Jackie receives heart-breaking news the day before her birthday. It’s a great episode y’all so get excited. Our favorite nurse is back!
4. Glee: Runaway Bridesmaid
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of chatting with one of my all-time favorite Glee actresses — the lovely Dot-Marie Jones. When I asked for your questions on Twitter, many of you passionate Glee-bees demanded to know why Coach Beiste was absent from the Will and Emma Wedding (or lack of wedding, I should say). So of course I asked her!
In an endearing twist, Jones revealed that she was just as bummed to be missing from the Wemma wedding as we were! “I wanted to wear the most ugliest wedding bridesmaid dresses in the world! But this episode will explain why.” Just imagining Coach Beiste standing next to all of Emma’s ginger relatives in a bright pink gown is enough to bring a smile to any Gleek’s face.
But like Jones teased, this week’s episode “Shooting Star” will allude to the reason why Shannon was absent from the nightmarish nuptials. As we’ve all seen in the promos, Shannon sets up a lovely evening for her best friend Will and goes all out for the occasion. “I cook Will this really nice Italian dinner and I boil the pasta in the hot tub” Jones adds with a laugh, “But I changed the water! Like that really makes it better.” Blegh! I think we should all pool together and get Shannon a new set of cooking ware.
Fans can rest assured that Shannon has put the horrors of her last relationship in the past and has moved on to a new crush. And although I can’t reveal who the lucky fella is, I can tell you that it’s definitely not a student. As we all know, Ryder is currently being catfished by a McKinley mystery woman, and just to be 100% percent positive, I asked Jones if Shannon has anything to do with this storyline. “Me? Oh god no! Leanne, that’s a kid!” she exclaims. Phew!
5. Revolution: Personality Swap
It finally happened! After months of wondering why the characters in Revolution have been forced to survive in a world without power, we finally learned that we can blame those damn little electricity-stealing bugs! This is why all bugs — whether from nature or technology — should be squashed. Blegh!
And while Rachel is on a quest to The Tower to restore power to their ruined world, we know that a reluctant Miles was asked to look after Charlie. I caught up with Billy Burke a few weeks ago at Wondercon and he told me that this newfound responsibility is something that Miles is unfortunately getting used to.
“He didn’t want to be in on this crusade to begin with but you know now he’s finding himself in this horrible position where he is actually caring about people other than himself.” Burke explained, “Miles is a selfish bastard at heart but he’s now learning that there are other things that unfortunately he cares about.” Aww that’s kinda nice!
And as for our new wannabe warrior, The Revolution actor revealed that as Miles’ humanity is warming up, Charlie’s kind soul will continue to harden from grief. “Charlie stars to take on some of these warrior characteristics that [Miles] would’ve never wished upon anybody, because in his mind you have to get rid of your heart to do some of these things.” He said. “As she starts to lose some of herself, he starts to go the other way and we start to see glimpses of what’s inside of him that we would have never seen otherwise.”
Who do you think gets hurt on Game of Thrones? Are you excited for Nurse Jackie to return? What are you most looking forward to in this week’s Glee? Tell me everything in the comments below!
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MORE: Leanne's Spoiler List: The Big Bang Theory, Glee and More!Leanne’s Spoiler List: Game of Thrones Premiere Scoop!Leanne’s Spoiler List: A Pregnancy Possibility on Shameless?
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Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
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.