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
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
True Grit and Lincoln actor Dakin Matthews is to take on Burgess Meredith's role as fictional boxer Rocky Balboa's trainer in Broadway's new musical version of the classic film. The 73 year old, who is one of California’s most admired stage actors, will make his Broadway bow as Mickey when Rocky the Musical opens to previews in February (14).
Meredith played the role in the first three Rocky movies.
The musical has already been a big hit in Germany, where it knocked out critics last year (13) and has become a huge hit in Hamburg.
The longterm partner of late British broadcaster Kenneth Kendall committed suicide after struggling to overcome his grief, an inquest has heard. Kendall, the first newsreader to appear on BBC television in 1955 and a longrunning regular on the network, died aged 88 after suffering a stroke last November (12).
His civil partner Francis Fear was found dead at their home on the Isle of Wight in April (13).
An inquest into his death has heard Fear left a note to his loved ones explaining he couldn't continue without Kendall, who he had been with for 23 years.
Isle of Wight assistant coroner John Matthews recorded a verdict of suicide by hanging, adding that the 55 year old had "suffered a tremendous amount of grief".
Dave Matthews and The Fray helped to raise $500,000 (GBP333,330) at the Colorado Rising charity concert to benefit flood victims at the weekend (26-17Oct13). The musicians performed along with Big Head Todd & the Monsters and members of the Lumineers, among others at the United Ways of Colorado Flood Recovery Fund event.
Matthews told the crowd, "I'm very honoured to be with you all, making the noise. When we all get together, we can make a noise. To let people know there is more work to do!"
And The Fray drummer Ben Wysocki added, "We are proud to be Coloradans. Living here and having so much family up north in Boulder and all that, this was something that was a reality you know not for any of our homes or our situations, but friends and family... This was our neighbourhood."
The Colorado floods hit in September (13) and resulted in nine deaths and billions of dollars in damage.
Hey Boy Meets World fans, Topanga and Shawn got married over the weekend! ... Except not in the way you were hoping.
In a cute coincidence, Rider Strong and Danielle Fishel both happened to get married to different people over the same weekend. Strong married long-time girlfriend Alexandra Barreto in a camp-themed ceremony in Oregon. The weekend wedding included festivities like a talent show and a rope course while guest accommodations included bunk beds. Fishel, on the other hand, married Tim Belusko in a more scaled-back event in Los Angeles that the actress' rep told People was "short and sweet." Unfortunately, this isn't some alternate version of the '90s sitcom where Cory falls in a ditch to never be seen again, and years of repressed feelings lead to love between Shawn and Topanga. Some Boy Meets World fan fiction sites got really excited for a minute there.
The big question is: whose wedding did Ben Savage attend?
Fishel and Savage will reprise their roles in the Boy Meets World Spin-off, Girl Meets World, which will follow the adventures of Cory and Topanga's daughter, Riley Matthews.
Actor Teo Halm has been dropped from the new Boy Meets World spin-off. The Nova star was cast as the older brother of Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel's TV daughter, Riley Matthews, but producers at Disney decided the show, Girl Meets World, would work better without the character.
Halm broke the news on Twitter.com on Saturday (05Oct13), writing, "So guys, Disney decided that it wouldn't work to have an older brother on the show; I won't be on Girl Meets World. Thank you to everyone".
Responding to Halm's message, Fishel wrote, "Teo, you are an incredible talent and I adore you. You may still call me mom."
Savage and Fishel played teenage sweethearts in the original show, which ran from 1993 to 2000.
Rocker Dave Matthews has taken a walk down Sesame Street to share a song about feelings. The singer recently filmed a guest appearance on the hit children's TV show, teaming up with the puppet Grover to express sadness.
Strumming on a banjo, Matthews sings, "I need a word so I can say what I'm feeling today/ I need a word so I can say how I feel/ I need a word that will say what I'm meaning to say/ And tell you the way that I'm feeling".
The star is the latest celebrity to film a cameo for the beloved programme - Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zac Efron and Eva Longoria have all previously guest-starred on the long-running show.
Kate Winslet took on the role of a villain in upcoming movie Divergent because she wanted to leave a lasting impression on her children. The Titanic star, who is pregnant with her third child, admits she immediately signed on to play Jeanine Matthews in the film adaptation of Veronica Roth's best selling novel so that her kids, Mia and Joe, would consider her to be "cool".
The 37 year old tells MTV News, "I didn't have any hesitation at all. It was such a great script. It's a fantastic book. My daughter is going to be 13, and my son is almost 10, and they're getting to that age where this is the type of literature they're going to be reading very soon.
"In fact, my daughter, two days ago, came home from school and went, 'Mum! You're never going to believe it. Rufus came up to me at school and said, is your mum really in Divergent? Is there going to be a premiere? Can you get me a ticket?'... My daughter suddenly had a new found respect for me. I'm just going to go with that. I did it because I wanted my kids to think I was cool."
The Neil Burger film, set in a dystopian version of Chicago, Illinois, is the first in a trilogy of movies and is due for release next year (14). Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz and Maggie Q are also set to star in the picture.
Rod Stewart, Idris Elba, Anna Friel, Melanie Chisholm and Britain's princes William and Harry were among the stars who manned the phones on a trading floor in London on Wednesday (11Sep13) as part of a 9/11 charity event. A whole host of actors, musicians and royals joined the British leg of Cantor Fitzgerald's and BGC Partners' annual Charity Day, which commemorates the victims of America's 2001 terrorist attacks.
As part of the event, famous faces man the phones and the day's profits are donated to good causes.
Stewart was there with his wife Penny Lancaster while Prince William and his brother Prince Harry also took calls during the star-studded event.
Other celebrities who turned out for the day's trading in London included Sir Ian McKellen, Sean Bean, David Hasselhoff, Cerys Matthews, Danny Dyer and Ashley Roberts, while on the other side of the Atlantic, Mariah Carey's husband Nick Cannon, Sean 'Diddy' Combs, actor Zachary Quinto, and The Sopranos stars Edie Falco and Bobby Cannavale turned out in New York.
Last year's (13) event raised millions of dollars for good causes worldwide.