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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If anything, it won't be a total and complete shutout for "Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
Or will it?
The Jim Carrey blockbuster is among the seven films being considered for this year's Visual Effects Oscar, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Wednesday.
Going up against the Grinch himself will be "Cast Away," "Dinosaur," "Gladiator," "Hollow Man," "The Perfect Storm" and "X-Men."
After the Visual Effects Award Nominating Committee have screened all the 15-minute clip reels from each of the seven films on Feb. 7, the group will nominate three of them for Oscar consideration, which will be announced with the rest of the nominees in the other 22 categories on Feb. 13 at 5:30 a.m. PT.
In other Oscar news:
The Academy today released the seven films in competition for the Sound Editing Oscar. They are "Cast Away," "Gladiator," "M:I-2," "The Perfect Storm," "Space Cowboys," "U-571" and "Unbreakable".
Ioann Allen, Mark Harrah and Robin Bransbury, the creators of the Trailer Audio Standards Associations' Trailer Loundness Standard, will be presented with an Award of Commendation by the Academy on March 3 at the Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation dinner.
Danette Herman will reprise her role as the executive in charge of talent for the 73rd Annual Academy Awards. She recently completed the 52nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards and the Kennedy Center Honors.
GOLDEN GLOBES PRESENTERS: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced Wednesday that recent Oscar winners Hilary Swank, Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington and Phil Collins and Jamie Lee Curtis, Peter Fonda, Patricia Heaton and Sarah Jessica Parker will join previously announced presenters Tom Cruise, Edie Falco and James Gandolfini at the 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 21 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey will present Al Pacino with this year's Cecil B. DeMille Award for his outstanding contribution to the entertainment field.
He's a movie star, Broadway actor and multiple Tony Award winner. Now you can add one more title to Matthew Broderick's resume -- television's "The Music Man." Daily Variety reports today that the "Inspector Gadget" guy will star in the TV version of the Tony-winning Broadway musical "The Music Man."
In the telepic, Broderick is slated to play Professor Harold Hill, a con man trying to unload band instruments in a small Iowa town but instead falls in love with the town librarian. According to Variety, Broderick's wife, "Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker, is being courted for the role of Marian the librarian.
Broderick won two Tony Awards for his roles in the revival of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" and the Neil Simon play "Brighton Beach Memoirs."
The three-hour "The Music Man" will air on ABC's "Wonderful World of Disney" some time next year.
ANNE AND 'ALLY': Anne Heche is switching sides again, but this time she's going from the silver screen to the boob tube. The Hollywood Reporter says that the actress has signed on to guest star in Fox's legal eagle dramedy "Ally McBeal." Heche, an Emmy winner during her days on the soap "Another World," will reportedly play a picky client in her three-episode deal. Her guest appearance will air during November sweeps.
'KISS ME,' DANNY: The Associated Press says that Danny Nucci ("Titanic," "Crimson Tide") has landed a starring role on a CBS comedy series. The show, called "Kiss Me, Guido," is about a guy (Nucci) who unknowingly ends up rooming with a gay man (Jason Bateman). The CBS series will debut in midseason, according to the report.
PEE-WEE'S BACK: Rejoice, Pee-Wee's back on TV! OK, not exactly, but it's close enough. Paul Reubens, the man who once brought to daytime kid TV the strange world of Pee-Wee Herman, will return to the tube as the host of ABC's long-delayed gameshow "You Don't Know Jack." In case you haven't heard, the show is based on a mega-popular CD-ROM game of the same name.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Set your VCR! AP tells us that PBS stations will turn over two and a half minutes of airtime for eight nights so that presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore can deliver their campaign messages. The arrangement starts Wednesday after Jim Lehrer's "NewsHour".
She’s baaack! Just when you get used to Kathie Lee Gifford-free airwaves, the erstwhile morning talker has signed a deal with E! Entertainment Television to star in the cable movie "Spinning Out of Control," The Hollywood Reporter says.
In the TV film, Gifford will play one Amanda Berkeley, the star of a popular sitcom whose life is ravaged by drugs and alcohol. Howie Mandel will costar in the flick as Gifford’s manager.
"The over-the-top character Gifford plays is a complete departure from anything Kathie Lee has done in the past," E! President and CEO Mindy Herman told the Reporter. "We're extremely pleased that she has agreed to star in this film for us."
The project marks Gifford’s return to the tube since her departure from "Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee" in July. Since her sweet adieu, the morning talk show -- with Reege and occasional guest hosts at the helm -- has gone up in the ratings.
The cable flick is slated to debut in March.