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 had to be one of the hardest jobs in show business to find a young, bright-eyed actress who's nothing short of stoked to play the woman accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter. And it's no wonder. While Anthony was acquitted in a court of law, the court of public opinion continues to hold her accountable for the tragedy. Lifetime's Imperfect Justice, a TV movie based on Anthony's trial, had nabbed its lead, newcomer Holly Deveaux, but according to People, the young actress has just dropped out.
Of course, with names like Rob Lowe on board as a producer and actor in the role of prosecutor Jeff Ashton, there had to be somewhat of a draw for young hopefuls. Lifetime has since scored Deveaux's replacement, Virginia Welch, a Texas native and up-and-coming actress who's worked on a handful of indie films and a few regional theater productions. And for now, it seems the young star is excited about her new, challenging role. On June 3, she tweeted, "Welp, off to Canada for 3 weeks. Can't use mah phone but plz feel free to FB, email, & SKYPE! Wish me luck and happy thoughts :)." Imperfect Justice is filming in Canada.
While Anthony's character is certainly no picnic, the role also calls for a bit of a challenge. Getting inside the mind of a woman who the majority of the population believes was wrongfully acquitted for the murder of young Caylee Anthony is a task that should be intriguing for any young actress. However, it comes with the potential stigma of relegating one's young reputation to being "the girl who played Casey Anthony" for the rest of your career.
Hollywood.com reached out to Lifetime regarding the casting change. Lifetime has yet to comment on the switch.
[Images: AP Photo/Red Huber]
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