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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After getting dumped by Cliff (Glenn Howerton) on a technicality, Mindy is certain she will be exonerated like "Amanda Foxy Knoxy Knox." She has been faced with the mission of winning him back after getting caught at a party with her Pastor/DJ/Shoe Designer ex on last week's The Mindy Project. But as she gets ready to head home from Los Angeles, Danny (Chris Messina) who is arguably a more substantial and slow-burning love interest, needs Mindy for support meeting his estranged father (Dan Hedaya). Conflicted with the urge to stay or go, Mindy decides to return to New York to salvage her relationship with a guy who already dumped her.
Mindy instead gets stuck in the car with Danny headed to his dad's house, while Peter (Adam Pally) and Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) are trapped back at the practice under much different circumstances. Eager to leave work and rebound with a butterface, Party Boy Peter gives himself a bathroom mirror pep talk, saying "I hope you've got your life vest on, because we're about to go motorboating." After the bathroom door breaks, it's clear that Peter's motorboat options are now limited to Morgan, who is also trapped.
Missing her flight, Mindy still supports Danny and pushes him to visit with his Dad. They quickly meet Little Danny, Danny's half sister from his father's current marriage. As Danny realizes that the man he hates is now a good father, he handles it the manliest way possible: drinking and wandering in the desert. At this point Mindy has moved on, attempting to make her way to the airport and back into Cliff's heart. But Danny continues to test their bond, drunk dialing Mindy while lost, ultimately making her miss another flight.
More potential is revealed in the seemingly superficial relationship with Cliff, when Morgan and Peter hear him in his office while stuck in the bathroom. Sharing the same building, Morgan and Peter recognize Cliff's voice through the vent. Not knowing about the break up, they call for help before hearing Cliff launch into an epic session of cry-singing Jewel's "You Were Meant For Me." They decide they'd rather be trapped forever than acknowledge hearing that. Once freed they meet Cliff in the elevator, sporting a post-cry glow, and invite him out to a boys night. Party Boy Peter even cancels on a "Wisconsin nine" for the occasion, so it's pretty serious.
The more dire issue unfolding is Mindy reaching her breaking point with Danny. His unraveling over his father goes too far, and Mindy calls him out in a way that is harsh yet telling of a loving relationship. Danny and his dad finally have a heart to heart, that seems more informative than funny until we're reminded that Danny was once a skilled ballerina ("a primo ballerino"). The heart-to-hearts hardly stop there as Danny and Mindy finally find their way onto a plane home. They apologize and Danny helps Mindy draft a letter to win back Cliff. They seem to fall back into the platonic pattern they've settled into, until Mindy gets up for a tonic water. Possibly moved by literal turbulence, Danny seizes the moment and meets Mindy for a sexual tension breaking make-out session that will change the course of this Rom Sitcom. For those who've been following their relationship, the next new episode of The Mindy Project on April 1st can't come soon enough.
After the central story of Nucky Thompson's conflicted enmity with protegee Jimmy Darmody was set to an ill-conceived rest, the show seemed to have set in place a new "villain of the season" formula - a phenomenon we could more or less guess was set to become tradition even in its first incarnation, Season 3's Gyp Rosetti, played by Bobby Cannavale. Already upping the ante in both quality and quantity, Season 4 seems to be presenting a dichotomy of danger in its two newest and most interesting characters. First, we have the way-younger-than-he-looks Brian Geraghty as Prohibition Agent Warren Knox, a character who puts on a dopey shtick (think Woody Harrelson in Cheers) to cover up his sinister, corrupt internality (think Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers). A fun watch in the contrast of his doe-eyed demeanor and his sociopathic machinations, Knox's introduction into the life of Nucky this week gives us hope for Boardwalk's fourth season. Whereas Gyp Rosetti was a firecracker who just kept acting loonier, dissolving his actions of any real surprise or emotional impact, Knox seems far more unpredictable. We don't know his angle. We just know he has one.
Also creeping his way into Nucky Thompson's life is one Dr. Valentin Narcisse, who takes a more sophisticated, almost Bond villain-like approach to criminality. Narcisse represents Cora Pastor — the woman who entangled Dunn Purnsley in a perverse act of sadomasochism that provoked him to kill her husband — not to mention an impassioned albeit slow-cooking movement for the progression of blacks in America. Narcisse views himself, and Nucky, as a king, bent on seizing the coveted Atlantic throne. Again, Narcisse is already proving to be a good deal more fun than Rosetti was. Sure, we've seen the eloquent and poised evil mastermind explored time and time again in film and television, but there's an added bonus here: Jeffrey Wright. A cinematic vet who could very well make the stoic, soft-spoken Narcisse into something more than a rehashed trope.
Another perk of this week's episode: its reunion with one of the series' best characters and performers: Nelson Van Alden/Harold Muller, played consistently charmingly by Michael Shannon. The disgraced lawman has become a glorified thug for Chicago's Irish mobster O'Banion... but succumbs to the threats and calls of Chicago's Italian crook Al Capone. Wading between two crime kingpins is not exactly an ideal lot, especially for the psychologically rattled Van Alden, who has got two children and a wife to care for. And ugh, that apartment does need a good wall papering.
Which of this season's new baddies are you gearing up to enjoy the most? The dopey crooked cop or the affluent, poised crime genius?
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The format of So You Think You Can Dance has evolved considerably over the past ten seasons. But without question, the best addition to the show has been the incorporation of the All Stars into the Top Ten. Once the field has been whittled down to five guys and five girls, the producers bring back favorites from past seasons to partner the contestants. While almost anyone who makes it past the dreaded Vegas Week is up to the task, we have our favorites. These are the All Stars who we hope will keep coming back, both to remind us of their crazy talent and to help propel their partners into the finale.
It's always a joy to see Alex Wong back on the SYTYCD stage, not just because he's a versatile, athletic dancer, but also because his own career as a contestant was cut short. What a heartbreak it was to see fan favorite Alex brought down by an injury in season seven, especially after that killer NappyTabs routine with Twitch. Fortunately, the dreaded Achilles has healed and Alex is back leaping across the stage with today's hopefuls.
Season four ballroom standout Chelsie Hightower graduated to rival competition show Dancing with the Stars. But to us, she'll always belong right next to Cat, receiving her accolades from Nigel and Mary. She's a little powerhouse and can make any guy look like a lift expert.
Actual Disney Prince Robert looks like the groom on top of a wedding cake, but he's not just a pretty face. The contemporary dancer finished third in season seven. This season, choreographer Travis Wall paired Robert, who recently overcame serious injury, with fellow suvivor Tucker Knox for a breathtaking piece that certainly helped keep Tucker in the competition.
Has there ever been a more reliable contemporary female dancer than Allison Holker? The season two star never fails to impress. Every time she's on stage with a contestant, the judges look like they would practically beg her to come back and compete again. She's also one half of the first confirmed All Star love connection — she's engaged to hip-hop heavyweight Twitch.
For a contestant, hip-hop is the most dangerous style to draw and be paired with an All Star. The All Star can't carry the contestant here. In fact, sometimes he can make him look downright uncoordinated, and definitely uncool. Season four's Twitch is guilty of making his partner look bad on numerous occasions, but how can we be mad at him? Hip hop will continue to separate the hopefuls from the champions in an attempt to find out who is the most "bucc."
With her babydoll face and pixie haircut, Melanie Moore is the America's Sweetheart of So You Think You Can Dance. She took the season eight crown and barely broke a sweat. The judges continue to fawn over her, and any guy who draws her is sure to make it through to the next week.
We got to know Travis Wall as a contemporary contestant in season two. Since then, he's redefined himself as one of the show's no-fail choreographers and has a handful of Emmy nominations to show for it. Luckily this year, we got the best of both sides of Travis when he choreographed and partnered contestant Amy Yakima in a smoldering routine to Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game."
The delighfully weird Mark Kanemura pirouetted right off of season four and into the arms of Mother Monster when Lady Gaga hired him as one of her dancers. This season, he came back as an All Star again and rocked the judges' socks with the quirky jazz routine he choreographed for his partner Jenna Johnson.
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If someone tells you they watch Saturday Night Live on Saturday night they are lying. If someone tells you they watch the entire episode and not feel like fast-forwarding through one or two (or all) of the sketches they are also lying. That is why my SNL viewing should take place on Sunday morning, where you can easily jump over the boring, painful bits. Plus, if you think it's enjoyable to sit through the same car commercial 7 times you are also so very, very wrong. Instead of reviewing all the sketches on Vince Vaughn's return to SNL, I break it down by what point I bailed on each sketch and why. Do you agree with where I gave up? Let us know in the comments below! Gun Control Cold Open: 3 minutes.When I Bailed: When Papa John's Pizza became the focus of the discussion. I'm afraid it was too close to the truth to actually be funny.Times I Laughed: 1
Vince Vaughn Audience Monologue: 4 minutes.When I Bailed: When Vaughn decided he was hosting the Maury show. Times I Laughed: 1
Al Pacino Biopics: 1 minute.When I Bailed: After the amazing Amanda Knox impression. Nothing could have topped that.Times I Laughed: 2
The Weather Channel: 2 minutesWhen I Bailed: Not long after 'Stormy Skies'' bumpy open. The corny soap opera for The Weather Channel would have been better if everyone just shouted out absurd headlines for moderate weather. I don't care about the precipitation in your pants, unless you're actually going to show us.Times I Laughed: 1
History of Punk: The whole thing! 4 minutes 30 seconds.When I Bailed: I didn't! This wasn't funny at all, but since it resembled VH1's entire TV lineup, I couldn't turn away. Times I Laughed: 0 Short Term Memory Loss Theater: 30 seconds.When I Bailed: When I realized this sketch wasn't only unfunny, but it actually put me to sleep in 30 seconds.Times I Laughed: 0
Weekend Update: 5 minutesWhen I Bailed: When Seth Myers started talking about the Cookie Monster. I did however stick around for the full 'Accidental Racist' sketch. Although it wasn't exactly original (they literally had Keenan Thompson quote LL Cool J's most recent interview at one point), it was necessary and still funny. Because when you have a song like 'Accidental Racist' and LL actually saying "It wasn't perfect," you barely have to say anything at all. Times I Laughed: 3 Junior Prom: The whole thing! 4 minutes 30 seconds.When I Bailed: Was probably a mistake, but I didn't! I'm a sucker for the prom, so I had hope. But things got weird when Vaughn removed his Liz Claiborne outer coat to snap dance with a boy with a half-mullet. Then, with a boy wearing an electric red cummerbund. It sounds funny, but it wasn't. Times I Laughed: 1 Roundball Rock: 2 minutes.When I Bailed: After the second rendition of "Basketball" when I felt a migraine coming on.Times I Laughed: 0
Last Call: 2 minutes.When I Bailed: After "blended genitals" was uttered. Times I Laughed: 1 (and it had to do with bar hair)
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In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.