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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
In just about every one of Kevin Hart's scenes in Ride Along, there's a joke that is just aching to find its way out of the diminutive, rascally comic actor. Hart is a small-scale physical comedian — of the same ilk as Jack Black — who puts nuclear-degree energy into his facial contortions, anatomical outbursts, and the delivery of every gag in general. If only he had material that was crafted with the same energy.
Unfortunately, nothing else about Ride Along seems at all "hard at work." Not the script, which pads a lifeless story with lazy comedy, and certainly not his screen partner Ice Cube, whose only stage direction seems to be "frown, and be taller than Kevin Hart." So lifeless is Ice Cube that even his machismo-obsessed straight man bit doesn't really work. Instead of the virile and intimidating "bad cop," he comes off as a disapproving middle aged dad without much to show for his own life.
But the script pairs the wily, overzealous high school security guard and video game junkie Ben (Hart) with no-nonsense lawman James (Ice Cube) on the titular ride along, with the scrappy cop-wannabe hoping to prove to the force veteran that he's good enough to marry the latter's younger sister. In earnest, he's not. Ben never puts any respectable effort into learning the tools of the trade, insisting on employing his amateur style and controlling the radio despite his proclamations that he wants, and deserves, James' trust. And James is no saint either — he's irresponsible on crime scenes, violent with perps, and disgruntled to the point of being unable to work with anybody else on the force. These are not good police officers... of course, you'll say, this is a comedy. But where are the laughs, then?
They're not absent entirely, you just have to look for them. In a movie so focused with big, broad humor, it's the smaller comedy that actually lands best. Hart's background mutterings and fumblings, his emoticon-laden texts to girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter, whose only stage direction seems to be "smile, and never wear a full outfit of clothing"), and a bizarre repetition of the word "weird" from supporting player John Leguizamo. All good for unexpected chuckles, while jokes like Hart facing off with a pre-teen or being blown backwards into a brick wall after firing a large gun are all lazy, familiar, and flat.
Structurally, the script is a mess. Ride Along spends far too much time on set up — we get it, Hart and his soon-to-be-brother-in-law Ice Cube don't get along — and far too much time on wrap-up — there's a gigantic, dramatic warehouse shootout that, in any other movie, would be the climax, but there's plenty more to go after that — without any cohesive middle to make the movie feel like... a movie.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
Hart, who leaps at every comic opportunity like a kangaroo (wallaby would be more appropriate), is suited just right for a buddy cop comedy, but he needs something fresh with which to work — a real character, an interesting story, actually funny jokes. Even just one of these would be fine!
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Ah, Cinco de Mayo. A yearly tradition in which you cast aside your day-to-day distractions to honor the most important triumph in global history... or to mourn the most decadent tragedy... or maybe it's somebody's birthday? My friend said it was Mexican Independence Day, but my other friend said that a Snapple cap told her that wasn't true, so we're kind of at a loss here on what Cinco de Mayo actually is. Lo and behold, reverence aside, people still find a reason to celebrate. And plenty of cocktails to celebrate with.
Just as real as the general public's emotional investment in May 5 as more than just an excuse to go all Caligula are the various beverages suggested by our pals on the small screen as worthy liver-killers for just such an occasion. Yes, television has come up with some wily alcoholic concoctions — some that seem like they'd fit just fine as staples in your liquor cabinet, others that warrant a hesitant morbid curiosity. Here's Hollywood.com's 100-proof menu of TV drinks to make your Cinco de Mayo a bit more... colorful.
Old SpanishFrom the top shelves of: 30 Rock, recently re-bottled by the Mad Men universeIngredients: Red wine, tonic water, and olivesDrinking buddies: The cowardly White House employee Cooter Burger (pictured above), or Peggy Olson's all-smiles boss Ted.
Snake JuiceFrom the top shelves of: Parks and RecreationIngredients: The official description of Snake Juice is "a bunch of alcohol mixed together, some sugar and coffee, and some other junk, and it kinda tastes like Kahlua."Drinking buddies: An overly confident Tom Haverford, a belligerent Leslie Knope, a musically-insistent Andy Dwyer, and (best of all) a giddily dancing Ron Swanson.
VodorangekaFrom the top shelves of: The OfficeIngredients: Vodka and orange juice... no, it's not a screwdriver. They're completely different.Drinking buddies: Michael Scott... and probably Meredith Palmer.
Flaming MoeFrom the top shelves of: The SimpsonsIngredients: 1 oz each brandy, peppermint schnapps, sloe gin, blackberry licquer, strawberry juice, and a bunch of cough syrup.Drinking buddies: Co-creators Homer Simpson and Moe Szyslak, with Carl, Lenny, and Barney Gumble also being reliable choices.
Black Yukon Sucker PunchFrom the top shelves of: Twin PeaksIngredients: 1 shot each Yukon Black and Blackberry Brandy, a dash of bitters, and one egg white.Drinking buddies: A reluctant Sheriff Harry Truman, a slow-sipping Agent Dale Cooper, and any eager justice of the peace you can muster up.
Drink responsibly, everybody. While TV paints a vivid picture, it doesn't always capture the true perils of alcohol: nasty hangovers and the proclivity for drunk texts. Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
More:Unhappy Hour: Kanye West's Twitter Nonsense & Reese Witherspoon's ArrestOrb Wins Kentucky DerbyKentucky Derby: Horses or Baby Names?
From Our Partners:Nina Dobrev, Julianne Hough Bikini in Miami (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
If you’re on this website reading this article, it’s because you’ve got a thing for pop culture. You love knowing about the latest brilliant movie casting, griping about the latest cut on American Idol, and have a hard time comprehending why someone wouldn’t just know off the bat that Lady Gaga’s real name is Stefani Germanotta. This list, mi amigos, is for you. Today, on Cinco de Mayo, we present you with a list of 10 pop culture stories that had us running towards the closest cerveza purveyor this week.
Afternoon Sangria: Let’s Just Take the Edge Off
Bethenny Frankel wrote a work of “Fiction”: Her novel, Skinnydipping, may be sold in the fiction section, but there are seven very good reasons to believe it’s inspired by reality (television).
Ryan Seacrest is Richer, More Successful, and Handsomer Than You: Seacrest added another job to his staggering lineup and managed to MC Idol despite a harrowing cold. And he did it all while being really, really ridiculously good-looking.
Tom Cruise is Going to Hunt Himself: Maverick has his eye on a role as Van Helsing, the notorious vampire hunter, in a Universal Pictures imagining of Bram Stoker’s tale. Of course, this is causing our brains to implode because we still think of Cruise as Interview with a Vampire’s Lestat. Conflict of interest?
Margarita With Salt: Sombrero Optional
Samuel L. Jackson Can’t Handle a Bad Avengers Review: He tweeted, “#Avengers fans,NY Times critic AO Scott needs a new job! Let's help him find one! One he can ACTUALLY do!” We get it, you’re proud of the movie, but let the man keep his opinion – and his job.
John Mayer Possibly Wrote Another Song About Jennifer Aniston: Yes,this song would be in addition to the entirety of Battle Studies, which I like to affectionately call The Worst John Mayer Album.
Superman is a lucky bastard who doesn’t pay for anything: We did the math. Superman is not only faster than a speeding bullet, his bank account is heavier than a lead zeppelin.
Community’s lovable rascal, Starburns, is Dead: But at least he died the way he lived, in an embarrassment of meth-amphetamines, and he was sent off with one hell of a farewell montage. Who wouldn’t want to make out with an image of a supermodel and use an exploding jet pack in his own eulogy?
Tequila, Straight Up
There Are Only Three Episodes of Revenge Left: Seriously, ABC. What the hell do you expect us to do once it’s gone (until next season)? Sally Draper Caught Roger Receiving a gift from Megan’s Mother on Mad Men: Must Don Draper’s eldest endure this torture every season? There she was, play-flirting with her father’s boss and thinking she’s almost a grown-up like her father’s newest Barbie doll, Megan, when the world suddenly became one big, dirty ashtray. Poor Sally. Kanye West Apparently Can’t Keep His Pants on Around Kim Kardashian: Kanye, you forced us to utter the name General Larry Platt again. How dare you?!
After a long battle with cancer, George Harrison, known to fans as the "Quiet Beatle," passed away at a friend's home. Harrison was 58.
Harrison died at 1:30 p.m. PT on Thursday in Los Angeles, following a battle with a brain tumor that ultimately caused his demise. His wife, Olivia, and 24-year-old son, Dhani, were with Harrison at the time of his death.
"He left this world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends,'' the Harrison family said in a statement to reporters. "He often said, 'Everything else can wait but the search for God cannot wait, and love one another.'"
Former Beatles frontman Paul McCartney greeted reporters outside his London home on Friday and expressed his sentiments on the loss of his longtime friend to The Associated Press.
"I am devastated and very, very sad. He was a lovely guy and a very brave man and had a wonderful sense of humor. He is really just my baby brother," McCartney said.
"George has given so much to us in his lifetime and continues to do so even after his passing, with his music, his wit and his wisdom," John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, told AP on Friday.
Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth was "very sad to hear the death of George Harrison," AP reports.
Great Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, also expressed his sentiments to BBC News on Thursday. "He wasn't just a musician, an artist, but did a lot of work for charity as well. He'll be greatly missed around the world."
"George Harrison was once of the great Liverpudlians," Liverpool's Lord Mayor Gerry Scott told Reuters. "He was a warm, peace-loving man who much more than just a talented musician."
Alan Williams, the Beatles' first manager, told AP that Harrison was an essential part of the band's chemistry.
"I would say he was the major cog in the Beatles at that time. He kept them together probably because of the calming effect he had," Williams said.
Harrison was 13 years old when he bought his first guitar and befriended Paul McCartney at school. McCartney introduced him to John Lennon, who was in a band called the Quarrymen. After several lineup changes and a name change, McCartney, Lennon and Harrison brought drummer Ringo Starr aboard and the Beatles were born.
After the Beatles parted ways in 1970, Harrison embarked on a solo career that started with his 1971 album, All Things Must Pass, and its hit singles "My Sweet Lord" and "What Is Life."
During the same year, he organized the Concert for Bangladesh, one of the first rock 'n' roll benefits, and helped fellow musician Sir Bob Geldof put together Live Aid, a benefit for African famine in 1985, AP reports.
"It really is the end of a dream," John Chambers of the Liverpool Beatles Appreciation Society told AP. "The only comfort we can take is the legacy of the music, which is as powerful and mysterious today as it ever was."
Fans across the globe are mourning Harrison's death.
At Harrison's mansion outside of London, fans have left flowers and notes for the guitarist. Flags were flying at half mast and a book of condolence has been opened at Liverpool Town Hall, birthplace of The Beatles, BBC News reports
In addition, the city council has announced that there will be a memorial service for Harrison, but no date has been set.
Harrison was also awarded the freedom of the city in 1984, Reuters reports.
Last year, Harrison saw a compilation of Beatles No.1 singles, 1, sell millions of copies.
"The thing that pleases me the most about it is that young people like it," Harrison said in an interview with AP at the time. "I think the popular music has gone truly weird. It's either cutesy-wutesy or it's hard, nasty stuff. It's good that this has life again with the youth."
On Oct. 1, Harrison recorded the song "A Horse To Water" with his son Dhani and pianist Jools Holland at his Switzerland home. The tune is featured on Holland's album Small World, Big Friends, released on Nov. 19 in the UK.
In New York City, fans began gathering before dawn Friday at Strawberry Fields, a section of the city's Central Park created in memory of another fallen Beatle, John Lennon, who was killed outside his nearby apartment in 1980.
Harrison spent last week at New York's Staten Island University Hospital where he was treated for his cancer. After his release on Nov. 22, Harrison took a private jet to Los Angeles, where he was treated with conventional chemotherapy at the UCLA Medical Centre, ABCNEWS.com reports.
McCartney and Starr had visited Harrison at Staten Island University Hospital just last week.
"When I saw him last time, he was obviously very unwell but he was cracking jokes like he always has...he'll be sorely missed," McCartney told AP.
The singer waged a long battle with cancer during the last few years.
In May, Harrison underwent surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., to remove a cancerous growth from one of his lungs. In April, a malignant growth was taken from one of his lungs.
Harrison was treated for throat cancer after doctors found a lump on his neck in 1997.
"It reminds you that anything can happen," he said at the time. Harrison blamed years of smoking cigarettes for his illness.
Harrison received courses of radiation therapy at Britain's leading cancer treatment center, the Royal Marsden Hospital, at that time.
Harrison is survived by his wife and son, his brother, Peter, and his sister, Lou.