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 may be the beginning of 2014 (am I the only one who still feels like 1999 was just a couple years ago?!), but our favorite celebrities have shown that they still love social media as much as they did in 2013. Last year in Hollywood was an interesting one, to say the least - from Miley dominating the headlines with her lizard tongue to Kanye hilariously trying to convince the world that he fathered a child with a classy lady, 2013 was quite the ride. Though it's uncertain how 2014 will play out in the entertainment world, celebrities were in high spirits ringing in the new year on Twitter. Here's to health, happiness, and Justin Bieber's retirement!
New Year’s Eve is just a made up holiday created by the taxi industry to get more vomit in cars.
— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) January 1, 2014
Going into 2014, let's just all stop lying to ourselves. Kale is gross.
— Abigail Breslin (@yoabbaabba) December 31, 2013
That's It I'm Not Tanning Again Till Next Year !
— DJ Pauly D (@DJPaulyD) December 31, 2013
The new year is just around the corner! In preparation, I started writing 2014 on all my checks weeks ago.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) December 30, 2013
What are your #NYE traditions? In #Brazil we eat 7 fruits for good luck!
— Alessandra Ambrosio (@AngelAlessandra) December 30, 2013
2014 Resolution - I need to work on being a less controversial tweeter.
— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 31, 2013
2013 was cool. We're still fucked.
— Blake Anderson (@UncleBlazer) December 31, 2013
— Britney Spears (@britneyspears) January 1, 2014
Whether you're a Belieber or a Gervatheist, I wish you a very Happy New Year. Peace :)
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) December 31, 2013
Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
The self-proclaimed King of Pop, Michael Jackson, joined with ex-President Bill Clinton to raise money for the Democratic National Committee's voter registration effort to the tune of $2.7 million. Jacko treated the 1,400 people in the crowd at the Apollo Theater to a brief performance before Slick Willie addressed the adoring throng. Tony Bennett and the punctuation-challenged k.d. lang also performed.
Matt Damon, following in the footsteps of thesps such as Nicole Kidman, Kevin Spacey and Daryl Hannah, will star in a West End (London) theatrical production. Damon, Casey Affleck and Summer Phoenix will take over the lead roles from Hayden Christensen (Star Wars), Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Paquin in This Is Our Youth.
Goodness gracious, great balls of fire! Rocker Jerry Lee Lewis, 66, is getting divorced for the sixth time. According to a press release, Lewis and his wife of 17 years, Kerrie, have split amicably.
In the Biz
Criminals, beware: Sgt. Joe Friday is making a comeback to the small screen. Dick Wolf, the brains behind TV's successful Law and Order franchise, is reported to write the pilot and serve as executive producer for an updated primetime version of Dragnet.
The producer/director of last year's charity gala America: A Tribute to Heroes and Not Another Teen Movie, Joel Gallen, is in final talks with MGM to handle--and perhaps helm--Romantic Comedy, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Gallen is also the creator/producer of the MTV Movie Awards.
The View's Meredith Vieira is the frontrunner to host the syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, The Los Angeles Times reports. Vieira, a former reporter for 60 Minutes, has allegedly been pursued by other networks to boost other struggling projects, most notably CBS' The Early Show.
Peter Jennings may want to rethink his retirement strategy. According to Daily Variety, an insider says Jennings, host of ABC's World News Tonight, should be expecting a drop in pay from his current salary of $10 million per year, although another insider was cited as saying a pay freeze, not cut, would be in effect.
Ozzy is a bona-fide hit! While bat-biting shock-rocker Ozzy Osbourne's music career may be on the wane, his TV career is on the rise. Tuesday's showing of The Osbournes drew 7.8 million viewers, the most ever for an MTV series in its 20-year history. The numbers also give rise to ABC's demise: MTV's viewer tally matched that of Sunday's The Practice re-run.
Speaking of ABC, it seems the alphabet network is ready to test the audience loyalty of surprise hit The Bachelor. Having risen to number 15 among 18- to 49-year-old viewers, ABC is airing a two-hour special on Thursday night, opposite such ratings stalwarts as NBC's Friends and CBS' CSI. Apparently, Enron's bigwigs have found themselves new work as TV execs for ABC.
Four new series--The Elite; I, Detective; Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege and Justice; and Body of Evidence: From the Case Files of Dayle Hinman--have been ordered by Court TV for primetime airing, starting this summer. All four revolve around criminal investigations and forensics, the staples of already-popular TV shows Law and Order and CSI.
Pop diva Jewel, full name Jewel Kilcher, sustained a broken collarbone, broken rib and contusions when she was thrown from a horse Wednesday, The Associated Press reports. Atlantic Records co-president Ron Shapiro said Jewel is an experienced rider and was vacationing at her boyfriend's ranch south of Dallas, Texas, when the accident occurred. Jewel will have to cancel a scheduled promotional tour for her new album and may miss a European tour slated to start May 10.
Rockers Alanis Morissette and John Mellencamp have no such health worries. Their respective North American tours were announced to start May 1 and July 3.
Also according to the AP, comedienne and talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell has been awarded the 2002 Montblanc Arts Patronage Award for her tireless efforts in encouraging the public to experience and patronize live theater. Each year, the Montblanc Cultural Foundation awards 10 individuals in 10 countries an honorific of $15,000 for their respective charities, based on their efforts to advance culture and arts.