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
It's an old adage that everyone is a critic, but now that we have the newfangled internet, not only is everyone a critic, but everyone has a voice and a platform to share their criticism. But now things are spiraling out of control thanks to the anonymous critics in internet comments critiquing movie critics' critiques. What a headache!
The whole thing started yesterday when Rotten Tomatoes, everyone's favorite movie review aggregation website, posted two early negative reviews of the highly-anticipated blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises, hitting theaters this Friday, July 20. (Since yesterday there have been more critics claiming the film ain't all that added to the site.) One was by Marshall Fine of the blog Hollywood and Fine and the other by Associated Press critic Christy Lemire. The commenters on the site reacted with such hatred and vitriol, hurling insults and misogynistic barbs, that Rotten Tomatoes responded by shutting off the comments on the whole site. The site's editor-in-chief explained his decision with a request that users "don't be a dick," a call that will most likely go unheeded by the churning masses of the internet.
Fine's website also seems to be under some sort of hacker attack or is just getting so much traffic thanks to this kerfuffle that it can't handle it all. You currently can't access his reviews and his slam has been taken off of Rotten Tomatoes (at his request so he doesn't have to deal with any more drama from his detractors). This is all because the collective unconscious of the internet has decided that DNR is the greatest movie ever and anyone who disagrees should be destroyed. Yes, now everyone with a keyboard and a WiFi connection is a caped crusader.
The plague seems like it's spreading too. On EW.com's review by veteran critic Lisa Schwarzbaum, users reacted to her middling "B" review with calls for her to be fired and saying that she has no idea what she's talking about or taste in movies. Here is what one nonsensical commenter wrote, "That was the wordiest review I've ever read...that told me absolutely nothing! I don't need this horribly written review to tell me what I already know...I will like this movie...it'll be good." If you already know this, anonymous internet troll, then why are you reading reviews in the first place? And are you such an mindless lemming that you will like this movie regardless of what is in it? This argument makes absolutely no sense. It's like saying you love driving a new car because you spotted it in the parking lot.
And just what are these people angry about? They seem to be disagreeing with critics about a movie they haven't even seen yet. How does the internet hive mind know that it's good or bad when the masses aren't allowed to see the flick until midnight on Thursday evening? They don't, which makes this reaction not only overblown but also based on absolutely nothing. Yes, everyone is a critic, but why can't they at least shut the hell up until after they've seen the damn movie, already? They might find that some of these movie reviewers might actually have a valid point or two.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
‘Dark Knight Rises’ Premiere: Black and White and (Not) Red All Over
'Dark Knight Rises' Actor Matthew Modine Compares Christopher Nolan and Stanley Kubrick
'Dark Knight Rises' Villain Bane: 10 Places We Want Him to Pop Up
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie
Teen pop idol Britney Spears is hotter than a fur coat in Miami after media reports surfaced that she would appear nude in an anti-fur poster campaign for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Spears' publicist Lisa Kasteler denied the media reports on Thursday and said that the singer was not planning to pose at all-even with her clothes on.
Kasteler said that Spears had offered to provide a photograph of herself for a PETA poster to be used at the New York nightclub Centro Fly in order to promote its new policy refusing entry to patrons wearing fur.
But the singer has apparently suspended all negotiations with PETA following the reports that she planned to pose naked, Reuters reports.
"Notwithstanding the meaningful work that PETA does, we cannot be involved with an organization that would distort the truth, " Kasteler said.
PETA campaign director Dan Matthews denied ever saying Spears would pose naked.
"We've never distorted anything, " he told Reuters. "We simply confirmed that we planned on doing a poster with her. We never said anything about nudity.
"If the downside is that the whole world knows Britney Spears is anti-fur, that's a good thing," he added.
Kasteler said the singer still feels strongly about animal rights and would find another organization to be involved with.
Other celebrities have posed naked for PETA's "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" poster campaign, including Pamela Anderson, Kim Basinger, Christy Turlington and Melissa Etheridge.
The latest was Dominique Swain, star of the 1997 remake of Lolita, photographed writing the slogan "I'd Rather Go Naked…" on a chalkboard. As with the others Swain's poster was shot from the side in a discreet manner.
Spears dropped the idea of using a caged tiger in her stage show the MTV Video Music Awards in New York in September after being criticized by PETA.