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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There are tons of cooking shows on television, because it’s inevitable that reality TV schadenfreude would flourish in a hot, tense, high-pressure environment. It seems like cooking competitions are getting more grueling, dramatic and difficult, so we've rated popular cooking shows on the ruthlessness shown by the producers, challenges or competitors.
Chefs must cook a cohesive meal using four mystery ingredients. They are judged on their creativity, plating and incorporation of the ingredients.
Ruthless Rating: Medium Contestants may have to cook in a rush but there aren’t any added challenges or sabotages. The mystery basket can be a little shady at times. Chefs have had to use obscure fruits like durian (an Asian fruit that has an aroma similar to a dozen used diapers left in the back seat of a 1978 Pinto), processed ingredients like gummi worms, or unappetizing items like chicken-in-a-can or organ meat.
Chefs must live together and compete in challenges judged by some of the best chefs in the world. Each episode, they must compete in a quick-fire challenge and then a full-day challenge.
Ruthless Rating: Medium Living together is an instant source of tension and stress. Recently, some competitions have required contestants to stay up all night. The producers have also upped the ante and began having elimination mini-challenges and double eliminations.
Contestants are given $25,000 at the start of each episode. Each round, contestants must make a simple dish. However, they only get a minute to shop and they can use their money to bid on sabotages for their competitors.
Ruthless Rating: Hard Sabotages range from having no hand tools to using no salt. They have even had contestants sub out fresh ingredients with processed ones and use tools from a toolbox.
Food Network Star
Cooks compete to win their own show on The Food Network. Challenges include on-camera demos, competing in challenges based on Food Network shows like Iron Chef and developing their own show.
Ruthless Rating: Easy Food Network execs Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson may be a little catty in their critiques but the show really is about developing a camera presence and a marketable cooking show. They don't want to see these players' ugly sides. Which is why this is the show that gave us Guy Fieri, and look how that's turned out.
Next Iron Chef
Celebrity chefs compete for the title Iron Chef. Chefs must compete in challenges that test their culinary ability, improvisation, and time management skills.
Ruthless Rating: Hard One season allowed contestants to judge each other and nominate eliminated contestants. After a long elimination challenge, the two losing contestants must cook head-to-head to decide who goes home. Plus, judge Simon Majumdar can be very persnickety.
Gordon Ramsay trains two teams of chefs on cooking for his restaurant, Hell’s Kitchen. (Which isn't even a real restaurant, but a studio on the Fox TV lot.) They face challenges, lessons and catfighting.
Ruthless Rating: Extreme Forcing contestants to listen to Ramsey’s shrill yelling voice for days on end borders on abuse. The contestants are not trained chefs, yet often get held to a chef’s standard.
In the cinematic desert that is the January-February movie-release schedule one gains a greater appreciation for mere competence. And that’s precisely what you’ll get with Man on a Ledge a mid-budget thriller with modest aspirations and genuine popcorn appeal. Sam Worthington (Avatar Clash of the Titans) stars as Nick Cassidy a former New York City cop wrongly convicted for the theft of a prized diamond. After exhausting all judicial avenues for exoneration he takes the unusual and seemingly desperate next step of planting himself on a ledge outside the penthouse of midtown’s Roosevelt Hotel and threatening to jump. An NYPD psychologist (Elizabeth Banks) is summoned to talk him down unaware that Nick harbors an ulterior motive. From his perch above midtown he is secretly orchestrating a scheme to take revenge against the corrupt corporate chieftain (Ed Harris) who engineered his demise and prove his innocence once and for all.
Director Asger Leth making his U.S. feature-film debut with Man on a Ledge keeps the pace brisk and never allows the tone to stray into self-seriousness which is crucial for a movie whose premise is so devoutly ridiculous. The script from Pablo F. Fenjves provides enough feints and twists to keep us engaged. Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez aren’t the most believable of couples but there’s a screwball charm to their comic routine as amateur thieves charged with aiding Nick’s scheme. (Leth can’t resist inserting an entirely superfluous – but nonetheless greatly appreciated – scene of the criminally gorgeous Rodriguez stripping down to a thong in the middle of a heist.) Worthington makes for a likable populist protagonist even if his Australian accent betrays him on copious occasions and Harris’ disturbingly emaciated frame lends an added menace to his devious plutocrat villain.
Top Story: Polanski, Eminem Give Thanks
Exiled director Roman Polanski feels honored by winning the Best Director Oscar for his Holocaust drama The Pianist, Reuters reports. "I am deeply touched to have received the Oscar for best director for a film which recounts events which are so close to my personal experience, events which helped me to understand that art can transcend pain," Polanski said Tuesday in a brief statement. "I thank the members of the Academy with all my heart for this magnificent reward." Meanwhile, the evening's other no-show was Best Song winner Eminem, aka Marshall Mathers, who won for his "Lose Yourself" from the film 8 Mile. The Associated Press reports a spokesman for the rapper said Eminem was surprised by the win, but that he is "always thankful when the work he puts into his music is recognized by others."
In More Eminem News…
As hot as Eminem is after his Oscar win, the sales from the DVD version of his debut film 8 Mile is even hotter. According to Variety, buyers spent more than $75 million on the Universal Studios Home Video release, the most ever for an R-rated film in the first week and among the top 10 overall.
NBC, Bravo Snap Up Chicago
Wasting no time, NBC and sister network Bravo have purchased the rights to Best Picture winner Chicago, Variety reports. Details of the deal weren't fully revealed but Variety states Miramax Films will pocket about $13 million, far less than the benchmark of 15 percent of domestic box office, which indicates a winning network sale. Chicago has grossed $134.1 million so far.
P. Diddy Rekindles Love With Ex-Girlfriend
Looking for a little love in his life, Sean "P.Diddy" Combs has reconciled with his former girlfriend and mother of his youngest son, model Kim Porter, even after their bitter child-support battle that was settled in 2002. "My love life is straight. I'm back with Kim," the rap mogul told People magazine in its March 31 issue.
Rowling Has Her Own Little Harry
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and husband Neil Murray welcomed their first child, a son, David Gordon Rowling Murray, Sunday in Scotland, Reuters reports. Rowling has a 10-year-old daughter from her first marriage.
Will & Grace "Just Jack" Lawsuit Settled
Will the real Jack please stand up? A lawsuit filed against Will & Grace writer Jason "Max" Mutchnick by his friend, interior designer Jack Deamer, claiming Deamer was the model for Sean Hayes' character Jack McFarland has been settled out of court, Reuters reports. The suit states Mutchnick, who patterned the TV Jack after Deamer, had promised to buy the real Jack a house and a car if the show were to become a hit.
Miss Mass. is Miss USA
Speaking of frivolity, the age-old beauty pageant Miss USA crowned Miss Massachusetts Susie Castillo as 2003's reigning beauty. Castillo, 23, of Lawrence, Mass., takes the crown from Shauntay Hinton, who represented the District of Columbia in last year's event. AP reports Castillo, an office manager and model, will be America's candidate in the Miss Universe pageant in June in Panama City, Panama.