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 really no wonder this film garnered so much attention in 2010 and at the Oscars this year. In a word: it's fantastic. The Fighter is anything but your typical boxing movie. It treads a tightrope-thin line between a well-done rousing sports movie and a gritty drama that claws at the most vulnerable points of the true story of brothers Dicky Eklund and Micky Ward. While it has its share of triumphant wins and devastating losses through adversity baseline it's the intricate and excruciating journey that Mark Wahlberg's Micky Ward endures on his journey to become a boxing legend that makes the film. But it's not just the sheer fact that he manages to wade through a seemingly endless sea of emotional wrecking balls the film derives much of its weight from the fact that the story wasn't thought up in some comfortable writers' loft. It's based on someone's actual life and the film pays tribute to that allowing the story's trajectory to trudge along down in the muck of the reality of it all. Yes we've heard the story before: a boxer is down on his luck the odds are against him the people around him are pulling him in a million different directions yet he presses on. It's not a story unlike any other but The Fighter manages to allow Ward's story to maintain its singular identity.
Part of the reason David O. Russell's fantastic film succeeds is the fact that they don't treat Micky's relationship with Dicky with kid gloves. While Dicky (Christian Bale) is very clearly a supporting character throughout Micky's journey and at no point overshadows the incredible story at the forefront of the film Bale proves the old adage that there are no small parts only small actors. He isn't the only part of the film worth watching but it's easy to see why the Academy went straight for Bale when handing out the Best Supporting Actor trophy. He plays through Dicky's troubling story with incredible subtlety and great care allowing him to be the driving force he should be without hijacking the film.
Fittingly Russell opts for a grimier feel and doesn't depend on vivid colors instead opting for the drab grayish brownish world of Lowell Mass. With some films it seems a bit silly to opt to pay a little extra for the Blu-ray when standard DVD would do the job but with a motion picture as masterfully crafted as The Fighter it's worth the dough. No there are no fantastic explosions -- unless you count that fight between Micky's mom (Melissa Leo) his sisters and Charlene (Amy Adams) -- but it's a film that deserves the high quality format.
When it comes to features you won't find a fountain of information but I think you'll find that there's enough to satisfy your curiosity. In essence they trimmed the fat. There isn't a single feature that won't enhance the film in a positive way. You've got your expected director's commentary deleted scenes and original trailer and the remaining features are where it really gets interesting. Being that the film works so hard to stay steeped in reality it's only fitting that the two (yes only two) featurettes included on the Blu-ray tap into the history behind the film. The first "The Warrior's Code: Filming The Fighter " intertwines your typical making-of or behind-the-scenes special with interviews and input from the real Dicky and Micky allowing you to see where history ends and the film begins. The other video is a short look into the community of Lowell Mass. They interview Micky's extended family neighbors childhood friends etc. and delve into the notion of boxing and what it means to the folks in Lowell where the brothers grew up and still live to this day. It's fascinating stuff and well worth the extra time.
The trailers for The Fighter may not have grabbed you the first time around -- I certainly wasn't impressed initially -- but once you dive into the story it's obvious that this is a film that anyone should be able to get something out of.
The Doubt star admits she's nothing like her brawling character Charlene in the film, and has never ever been to a real boxing match.
She tells the Globe, "I just get too swept up in it. I have trouble even watching it on TV. I have to leave the room, even during football games... It's too intense. I can't take it."
The Oscar nominee admits she was self-conscious about how she would look on camera in sexy underwear and wanted to tone up before she had to shed her clothes.
But filmmaker Russell stopped her from doing so - because he wanted to ensure her portrayal of Charlene, a working-class barmaid, was as realistic as possible.
Adams tells Parade magazine, "David said, 'This is kind of how we see her dressing (in lingerie).' And I said, 'I'm getting in a gym, 'cause there's no way I'm going to end up not looking my best.' (But) he said, 'I want you to look like a girl who drinks beer!'"
In certain respects David O. Russell’s boxing drama The Fighter is a sports movie masquerading as an Oscar grab. It bears many of the hallmarks of awards ponies that are often trotted out this time of year: It’s set in a working-class town (Lowell Massachusetts) in the midst of demographic upheaval; one of its lead actors Christian Bale put his health at risk so that he might realistically portray the corrosive effects of crack addiction; its director took great care to stock it with an abundance of auteurist flourishes; its poster is suitably understated; and its initial theatrical release is extremely limited (only four cities). But underneath The Fighter’s prospecting facade beats the heart of a determined crowd-pleaser -- a triumphant underdog tale of an aging boxer who overcame long odds to reach the pinnacle of his sport -- that cannot be suppressed.
The structure of The Fighter which is based on the true story of doormat-turned-champion “Irish” Micky Ward reflects its director’s conflicting impulses. The film is roughly divided into two parts the first of which is fashioned almost purely as a showcase for Bale who portrays Ward’s half-brother Dicky Eklund a once-promising welterweight who long ago squandered his talent on a drug habit that none of his family members seem willing to acknowledge.
Balding emaciated and nearly toothless Dicky bristles with boundless (and no doubt chemically enhanced) energy strutting through town and boasting incessantly of his exploits -- his 1978 knockdown of Sugar Ray Leonard in particular -- in a voice made raspy by (presumably) vocal chords repeatedly singed by crack smoke. Though officially Micky’s trainer he seems less concerned with his brother’s fight preparation than with promoting his own supposed “comeback ” which he claims an HBO Films crew has been sent to chronicle. In truth they’re making a documentary on crack addiction but Dicky’s delusion is so profound -- and so impervious to reality -- that he fails to recognize it.
Russell is clearly enamored with Bale’s performance -- he all but emblazons the words “For Your Consideration” at the top of the screen during the actor’s scenes -- and as a result he grants his actor too long of a leash. Bale dominates every frame in which he appears but sometimes he overreaches and his scene-stealing antics occasionally verge on clownish. (In a pre-emptive strike against those who might dismiss the performance as a prolonged exercise in scenery chewing Russell includes a documentary clip of the real-life brothers during the film’s closing credits and true to Bale’s portrayal Dicky is an unrepentant attention hound.)
Dicky’s losing battle with crack culminates in a harebrained money-raising scheme hatched straight out of the Tyrone Biggums playbook for which he earns a lengthy penitentiary stay. But just as we begin to suspect The Fighter might morph into a gritty addiction memoir the narrative shifts its focus to Micky who after suffering quietly for years under the misguided tutelage of his junkie brother and their domineering mother/manager Alice (Melissa Leo) finally starts to assert himself. With the help of his new girlfriend Charlene (Amy Adams) a bulldog with a tramp stamp whose foul mouth and stiff upper lip provide the perfect antidote to the machinations of Micky’s mother and seven (!) catty sisters his own (genuine) comeback finally gains momentum.
So does the film. Because of its triumphant second half -- during which Micky ascends through the welterweight ranks in a series of brutal slugfests and eventually upsets a much younger Shea Neary to win his first title -- The Fighter will likely be branded hokey by some but that’s hardly the director’s fault. The story all but demands it. For the most part Russell steers clear of the sentimental tropes seen in films like Cinderella Man and the Rocky saga and he documents every pummeling Micky receives with gruesome buzz-killing detail. But the story’s feel-good aspects like Micky are astoundingly resilient and in the end Russell has no choice but to yield to them.
Director David O. Russell wanted the Enchanted star to appear as Wahlberg's love interest in the legendary boxer's biopic, but he wasn't entirely convinced she could pull off the part as tough-talking Charlene Fleming.
So she pulled on her boxing gloves and learned how to throw a punch or two to satisfy the filmmaker.
She says, "I did have to take some boxing lessons. David, when he cast me, told me I didn't look like a girl who could throw a punch, so I had to prove him wrong."
But Adams insists she was born with the fighting spirit - because she comes from a big family: "I'm one of seven kids so you have to fight for everything! It was relatable."
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Claire is an attractive CIA operative and Ray is an M16 agent who simultaneously leave their Governmental spy activities in the dust to try and profit from a battle between two rival multi-national corporations both trying to launch a new product that will transform the world and make billions. Their goal is to secure the top-secret formula and get a patent before they are outsmarted. While their respective egomaniacal CEOs engage in an unending battle of wills and one-upmanship Claire and Ray start out conning and playing one another in a clever game of industrial espionage that is even more complicated due to their own long-term romantic relationship.
WHO’S IN IT?
Reuniting Closer co-stars Julia Roberts (as Claire) and Clive Owen (as Ray) turns out to be an inspired idea. They turn out to be the perfect pair oozing movie-star charm and electricity in this elaborate con-game that might have been the kind of thing Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant might have made in the '60s (in fact they did in Charade). Roberts with that infamous hairstyle back the way we like it and Owen looking great in sunglasses prove they have what it takes to navigate us through this ultra-complex plot in which no one is sure who they can trust at any given moment. They play it all in high style and the wit just flows as the story skirts back and forth during the period of five years. The supporting cast is well-chosen with juicy roles for Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti (out of their John Adams duds) as the two CEOs going for each other’s throats. Giamatti who sometimes has a tendency to overdo it is especially slimy here and great fun to watch.
Big-star studio movies today rarely take risks and often talk down to the audience but in Duplicity writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) has crafted a complicated con-comedy that requires complete attention at all times just to keep up with the dense plot’s twists and turns. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a New York Times crossword puzzle and Gilroy and his top-drawer production team deliver a glossy beautiful-looking film that’s easy on the eyes hitting locations from Dubai to Rome to New York City.
Like any good puzzle it sometimes can be frustrating putting it all together and Gilroy’s habit of taking us back in time and then inching forward gets a little confusing even with the on-screen chyron pointing out where we are at any given moment. Stick with it though and you will be well-rewarded.
A scene near the end where the formula must be found scanned and faxed in a matter of minutes is sweat-inducing edge-of-your-seat moviemaking and it provides the ultimate opportunity for Roberts and Owen to take the “con” to the next level. Another where Roberts uses a thong to try and trick Owen into admitting an affair he never had is also priceless and gets right to the heart of the game-playing.
GO OUT AND GET POPCORN WHEN ...
Never. Stock up during the coming attractions. If you miss a moment of this entertaining romp you might never figure it all out.