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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Maybe there are a few happy endings after all.
Eliza Coupe, who played the uptight and competitive Jane Kerkovich on the dearly departed ABC show Happy Endings, will star in a new comedy series on USA called Benched. In the new show, Coupe will play a successful corporate lawyer who has a mental breakdown after being passed up for an expected promotion. Coupe sounds like a perfect choice for the character, who sounds suspiciously similar to Jane, who too exuded control but was really only a hair away from a complete manic break.
The half-hour comedy will be written and produced by Michaela Watkins and Damon Jones, while John Enbom, co-creator of Party Down, will serve as showrunner. While it sometimes feels like cable TV is comprised of about 95 percent courtroom shows these days, the comedic talent behind Benched gives us hope that the show will add something fresh to the sameness of the doldrums that comprises most legal programs.
Coupe's previous show lies in the quiet graveyard of sitcoms that ended way too soon. The little comedy was a bright and shiny beacon of laughs that got shuffled in the confusing mish mash of ABC's scheduling. The frantic and quick-witted comedy gave the network a healthy injection of fun and unpredictability, but the show was sadly canceled after its third season, even after fans and other networks launched desperate campaigns to save it from termination.
Maybe Benched is USA's attempt to give fans a little solace after Happy Endings met its demise. The network obviously liked what Coupe brought to Happy Endings, and though that she had what it took to carry her own show. It won't be the show we wanted, but maybe it will be the next best thing.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.
Trimspa defends Anna Nicole Smith
The American Music Awards may be over, but the buzz over Anna Nicole Smith's odd behavior at the Sunday night event isn't.
The hubbub began when the newly svelte Smith stepped on to the stage to introduce hip-hop artist Kanye West. "Like my body?" the former Playboy model turned Trimspa spokesperson slurred while attempting to strike a pose. West's band, meanwhile, was cued to start playing before Smith was able to finish stumbling through her preamble, which host Jimmy Kimmel dubbed the "performance of the night." Smith's eccentric conduct snowballed during yesterday's post-show coverage, leaving many speculating on the entertainer's condition and her continued association with Trimspa, the diet plan that helped her shed close to 70 pounds. The star of the reality series The Anna Nicole Show told Entertainment Tonight reporter Kevin Frazier she takes two pills a day to maintain her weight. "Clearly, last night's award ceremony has become more about Anna's introduction of Kanye West than about who won the prized awards, which is unfortunate," Alex Goen, founder and CEO of Trimspa, said in a statement Monday, adding: "Like all our customers, we stand by Anna. More important, we stand with her as our friend." Smith's weight loss garnered media attention with Trimspa's TV ad campaign, in which she tells paparazzi on a red carpet how she lost all that weight: "Trimspa, baby!"
David Lee Roth training as paramedic
Former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth is reportedly training to become a paramedic. The AP reports Roth, 50, has been riding along with ambulance crews in the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn several nights a week. "I have been on over 200 individual rides now," Roth told the New York Post Tuesday. "Not once has anyone recognized me, which is perfect for me." Roth, who said he did not want the neighborhoods he was working in named so that he would not draw attention to himself or co-workers, even saved the life of a heart attack victim several weeks ago in the Bronx by using a defibrillator. "You would never know you were dealing with a rock-'n'-roll guy," Roth's EMS consultant and tutor Linda Reissman said. "His commitment really is touching. He wants to help people."
Polanski wants to sue Vanity Fair from abroad
Lawyers for Roman Polanski, who lives in France, will ask England's highest court Wednesday to overturn previous court rulings barring the director from suing Vanity Fair via video link from Paris, Reuters reports. Polanski wants to sue the magazine over an article that claimed he propositioned a woman in a New York restaurant on his way to the funeral of his wife, actress Sharon Tate, who was murdered in 1969. But Polanski is scared to come to Britain for fear of being extradited to the United States as a fugitive from justice. In 1977, Polanski pleaded guilty in a California court to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, but fled the country before sentencing. The Court of Appeal ruled last year Polanski should not be allowed to testify from Paris because it would be allowing him to use judicial process when it suits him, but avoid it when it does not.
Garrett absent from Raymond honoree bash
The cast and crew of Everybody Loves Raymond were honored at the Museum of Television and Radio's annual fundraiser at the Beverly Hills Hotel Monday night--minus co-star Brad Garrett, The Associated Press reports. Garrett's conspicuous absence was a reminder of last year's bitter salary dispute between CBS and the cast, who secured generous increases for the show's 10th and final season. CBS chief Leslie Moonves joked: "Negotiating with Doris (Roberts) is like negotiating with your mother ... You can't win. Negotiating with Brad (Garrett) is like negotiating with John Gotti." Star Ray Romano, one of TV's highest-paid performers with a per-episode salary of more than $2 million, said of Moonves: "Like my father, I go to him when I need money."
UPN brings back TLC
Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, the remaining members of the hip-hop trio TLC, have teamed up with UPN for a reality series titled, R U the Girl With T-Boz & Chilli. Reuters reports the series will focus on resurrecting the '90s group--who tragically lost their third member, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, in 2002 after she died in a car crash--and will go through the rigorous challenges of finding a replacement who will join them for a concert and recording session. "We want to find someone with the right chemistry and magic to work with us," Watkins and Thomas said. "We have been blessed with great success, and this is a chance for our fans to join us as we give someone a once in a lifetime opportunity to fulfill their dream."
More on reality television...
Former supermodel Rachel Hunter is set to join TBS' reality series The Real Gilligan's Island as pampered movie star Ginger, the AP reports. Hunter, who is also Rod Stewart's ex-wife, "shares the flightiness and aloofness of Ginger," a statement on the TBS Web site said. The series features several stranded castaways, including a skipper, first mate, professor, movie star, millionaire and his wife, who must pool their resources to get themselves off of a deserted island--including challenges modeled after episodes from the original 1960s series Gilligan's Island. The show also stars Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann, the pretty but unworldly young woman from Kansas.
Peter Fonda files suit against clothing company
Actor Peter Fonda has sued Dragonfly Clothing Inc. for more than $123,000, claiming the clothing company violated a licensing agreement that allows it to market apparel bearing his image, the AP reports. According to an amendment agreement attached to the lawsuit, the Fullerton, Calif.-based Dragonfly failed to pay Fonda guaranteed minimum royalties. Dragonfly markets clothing bearing the logos or likenesses of a number of famous personalities, including Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, James Dean and others.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.