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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Greetings fellow The Voice watchers and welcome to the Knockout Rounds! Since many of my East Coast colleagues are busy dealing with the wrath of Hurricane Sandy (stay safe, y’all!), I am “stepping up to the mic,” as it were, and taking over The Voice recapping duties for the time being. Now to be honest, I’ve only seen a few episodes of the show here and there, but anything involving the words “singing battles,” “knockout rounds,” and “Adam Levine” sounds like a good time to me. So let’s get started!
With no more steals to fall back on, the pressure was on in full force for the remaining 40 contestants, especially since only half of them (that’s 20 for you anti-math fans like myself) will be selected for the show’s live playoffs by week’s end. Yikes!
Last night featured Team Adam vs. Team Cee Lo…
The first two to face off were Joselyn Rivera and Kayla Nevarez. Since both girls have a similar pop star quality sound, Adam wanted to get these two side by side to see which one deserves to advance to the next round. In a bold move, Rivera tackled Beyoncé's “Love on Top” song and managed to hit a wide variety of hard-to-reach notes (well, at least most of them). Nevarez, on the other hand, opted to play things a little safer by giving a cautious rendition of “Shark in the Water” by V V Brown. Though Adam was very pleased with both performances, he preferred Joselyn’s risky approach and advanced her to the next round.
Next up was Joe Kirkland vs. Bryan Keith, who also share a similar sound (I think I’m starting to understand the strategy here). In a surprise choice, Joe belted out “Mean” by Taylor Swift, while Bryan went for the swoon approach with “Everything I Do (I Do It for You)” by Bryan Adams. Joe may have had the risk factor in this one, but Bryan’s spot-on performance proved that he has the talent to make any song (even the romantic, cheesy ones) his very own. So it’s Bryan for the win!
Then came Amanda Brown who sang “Paris (Ooh La La)” by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals vs. Michelle Brooks-Thompson, who performed “Spotlight” by Jennifer Hudson. Talk about two powerhouse voices, these girls have it in spades. Amanda brought sass and vocal firepower, while Michelle showed off some serious artistic range. And while they both seemed to kill it out there (Christina called it a real singer’s battle), Adam decided to go with his gut and keep Amanda. Personally, I agree with the choice. That girl’s singing chops deserve a proper chance in the spotlight.
Next we had Loren Allred sing “You Know I’m No Good” by Amy Winehouse against Nicole Nelson, who chose to perform “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. According to the rehearsal footage, it looked like Nicole was the preferred favorite, however, Loren had a truly stellar performance, making all of the coaches speechless and completely wowed. Adam wanted her to stop sounding like a wedding singer and take on a deeper, darker edge. Well, wish granted! It was a truly incredible breakout moment that left Adam with only one choice: he had to pick Loren. Let’s hope there’s more where that came from. Loren, welcome to the dark side!
Last up for Team Adam, Melanie Martinez took on “Bulletproof” by La Roux, while Sam James performed “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn. Sam’s style was fun, but it lacked the vocal strength necessary to stay in the competition at this point. That being said, I think he is just adorable and I want us to be best friends (seriously, can we make this happen, please?). But regardless, Melanie’s albeit breathy performance was far superior, so it’s no surprise Adam sent her into the playoffs. Now we just need her to get rid of that hair bow.
Team Cee Lo:
First up was Avery Wilson (singing Chris Brown’s “Yeah 3x”) vs. Cody Belew (singing “Jolene” by Dolly Parton). It seemed to be an off night for Avery, who was trying to do a little too much all at once when he really should’ve been focusing on how his voice sounded (thus the name of the show). But instead of giving the guy some leeway, Cee Lo decided to send him packing, sending Cody off to the next round. And just like that, the guy everyone thought would win it all, doesn’t even make it to the playoffs! Oh Cee Lo, you really are one unpredictable fella.
Next up was Mackenzie Bourg vs. Daniel Rosa – who both had very unique song selections. While Mackenzie performed Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” Daniel sang “Back to December,” making this the second Taylor Swift song of the night – both performed by guys (is this a trending thing now?). But unlike Daniel’s rather forgettable rendition, Mackenzie completely changed up the monotonously catchy tune into something that was – dare I say – kinda awesome? I know, you guys. I shouldn’t like it, but I did. By the end, even his opponent was singing along. This dude has my vote! And apparently he has Cee Lo’s too since he sent Mackenzie on to the next round. (Maybe we should lay off the Taylor Swift songs for a while, gentlemen).
Then came Terisa Griffin who went up against Trevin Hunt in a seemingly flawed move on Cee Lo’s part. These are two amazing singers who both deserve to go on to the playoffs, so why pit them against each other so soon? But hey, that’s just one girl’s opinion. Terisa sang the classic Whitney Houston song “Saving All My Love for You,” which was just as emotionally powerful as it was vocally. Seriously, this girl can bring tears to your eyes faster than any Nicholas Sparks book. But then there’s Trevin, who did an equally strong performance with Phil Collins’ hit “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now).” Seriously, why does either of them have to go home? This is like the Sophie’s Choice of singing competitions. But sadly, a decision did have to be made and Cee Lo chose to save (drumroll please)…Trevin!
The next knockout battle was between Mycle Wastman and Nicholas David, who both have very soulful voices. Mycle went with Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” It was good and everyone loved it, but then again, that could have more to do with the song than the actual performance. Meanwhile, Nicholas sang a lively rendition of “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae, making this yet another guy opting to sing a girl song (was this an intentional theme for the night?). It was fun, but I wasn’t overly thrilled. Perhaps now that I’ve heard Trevin sing, no other guy can match up. Even the coaches seemed split on what to do. But in the end, Cee Lo made the decision to keep Nicholas.
And last but not least was Caitlin Michele (singing “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence) vs. Diego Val (singing “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz). The song choices were actually pretty perfect for each of their individual styles. There’s no doubt Caitlin has the stronger vocal talent, but Diego really knows how to liven up a crowd with all that energy of his. None of the coaches seems all that thrilled with either performance (probably because they’re still in shock over Terisa’s unnecessary elimination. I’m not bitter or anything). But regardless, Cee Lo chose to advance Diego into the playoffs.
And look – this means Cee Lo has picked five guys and zero girls to go on to the live shows. I’m not sure if this makes him utterly foolish or a complete genius. We’ll find out soon enough! But in the meantime, what did you think of last night’s eliminations? Sound off in the comments below.
The Voice returns Tuesday for another two-hour Knockout episode starting at 8 p.m. – this time between Team Blake and Team Christina.
Follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyBean0415
[Photo Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC (2)]
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.