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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TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
An hour and change into Pompeii, there's a volcano. You'd think there might have been a volcano throughout — you'd think that the folks inhabiting the ill-fated Italian village would have been dealing with the infamous volcano for the full 110 minutes. After all, volcano movies have worked before. Volcano, for instance. And the other one. But for some reason, Pompeii feels the need to stuff its first three quarters with coliseum battles, Ancient Rome politics, unlikely friendships, and a love story. But we don’t care. We can't care. None of it warrants our care. Where the hell is the volcano, already?
To answer that: it's off to the side — rumbling. Smoking. Occasionally spiking the neighboring community with geological fissures or architectural misgivings. Pretty much executing every trick picked up in Ominous Foreshadowing 101, but never joining the story. Not until Paul W.S. Anderson shouts, "Last call," hitting us with a final 20-odd minutes of unmitigated disaster (in a good way). If you've managed to maintain a waking pulse throughout the lecture in sawdust that is Pompeii's story, then you might actually have a good time with the closing sequence. It has everything you’d expect — everything you had been expecting! — and delivers it with gusto. Torpedoes of smoke running hordes of idiot villagers out of their homes and toward whatever safety the notion of forward has to offer. Long undeveloped characters rising to the occasion to rescue hapless princesses who thought it might be a good idea to set their vacation homes at the foot of a lava-spewing mountain. The whole ordeal is actually a lot of laughs. But it amounts to a dessert just barely worth the tasteless dinner we had to force down to get there.
TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
To get through the bulk of Pompeii, we recommend focusing all your attentions away from the effectively bland slave/gladiator/hero Kit Harington — sorry, Jon Snow (he's actually called a bastard at one point) — and onto his partner in crime: a scowling Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje — sorry, Mr. Eko (he and Snow actually trade valedictions by saying "I'll see you at another time, brother" at one point) — who warms up to his fellow prize fighter during their shared time in the klink, and delivers his moronic material with a sprinkle of flair. Keeping the working man down is Kiefer Sutherland — sorry, Jack Bauer — as an ostentatious Roman senator, doling out vainglory in Basil Fawlty-sized portions. When he's not spitting scowls at peasants, ol' JB is undermining the efforts of an earnest local governor Jared Harris — sorry, Lane Pryce (he actually calls someone a mad man at one point) — and his wife Carrie-Anne Moss — sorry, Katherine O'Connell from Vegas (joking! Trinity) — and finagling the douchiest marriage proposal ever toward their daughter Emily Browning — sorry, but I have no idea what she's from.
But questionable television references and some enjoyably daft performances by Eko and Jack can't really make up for the heft of mindless dullness that Pompeii passes off as its narrative... until the big showstopper.
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In truth, the last sequence is a gem. It's fun, inviting, and energizing, and might even call into question the possibility that Pompeii is all about how futile life, love, friendship, politics, and pride are when even the most egregiously complicated of plots can be taken out in the end by a sudden volcanic eruption. But you have to wade through that egregious complication to get there, and you shouldn't expect to have too much of a good time doing so.
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In March of 2005, Ricky Gervais' critically acclaimed satirical take on the middle-class professional world was brought to the United States, resulting in a hit far and beyond what many had anticipated: the NBC sitcom The Office launched a new wave of single-camera comedies, not to mention the careers of Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Rashida Jones and Ed Helms, among others. And now, the world of Dunder-Mifflin is being set up for its conclusion: Deadline reports the upcoming ninth season of the series has been confirmed by Executive Producer Greg Daniels to be the final season.
This shouldn't be much of a surprise. After Season 7, Carell took off, bringing central character and the show's driving force Michael Scott to Colorado to live happily with his soul mate, Holly Flax (Amy Ryan). Additionally, production has been announced on The Farm, a spin-off series centering on the character of Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), which will bring former showrunner Paul Lieberstein (who also plays Toby) along with it. And finally, there is The Mindy Project, which will set Office star/writer Mindy Kaling at the center of her own sitcom.
So, the doors are closing on that Scranton paper company with which we've all grown quite familiar. With Jim and Pam happily married and attentive young parents, Andy and Erin finding new love, and Creed successfully escaping being found out as the Scranton Strangler (it's possible...), the stories do look like they are ready to end.
[Photo Credit: NBC]
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Troubled by unfortunate event after unfortunate event The Watch sidesteps faux pas to come out on top as a consistently funny sci-fi comedy that doesn't let its high concept tangle up a bevy of one-liners. The script penned by Jared Stern Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg assumes you've seen a few movies before entering the theater (mainly any sci-fi movie made in the 1980s). "Summer movie logic" is the foundation for The Watch's ridiculous plot which finds four adult nincompoops teaming up to form a Neighborhood Watch trying to solve the murder of a local Costco employee and eventually pursuing a killer extraterrestrial. Instead of making sense of it all The Watch wisely focuses on its four leads: Ben Stiller Vince Vaughn Jonah Hill and The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade — a quartet whose bro banter goes a long way in spicing up the dust-covered material. There's nothing revelatory to be found in The Watch but the cast's knack for improv a poetry of the profane makes the adventure worth…viewing.
Director Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod) establishes his two-dimensional characters quickly and bluntly smashing together broad personality types like a Hadron Collider of cinematic comedy. Stiller's Evan is a micromanaging do-gooder who can't find time for his wife; Hill's Franklin is a mildly disturbed weapons enthusiast yearning to join the police; Ayoade is the quaint weirdo who joins the Watch to fill the void left by his divorce; Vince Vaughn is Vince Vaughn: a loud crass gent looking for a bit of male bonding. The ragtag team assembles to fight crime but they spend most of their time drinking beers in a minivan — an affair they dub "stakeouts." A perfect opportunity for banter.
For a movie about enforcing the law and alien invasions there's a surprising lack of action in The Watch. Long stretches of the film see the central players yapping back and forth about everything: Russian nesting dolls peeing in cans or the similar viscosities of alien goo and human excrement. Charisma goes a long way and Vaughn does much of the heavy lifting making up for lost time out of the spotlight (he's been virtually nonexistent since 2005's Wedding Crashers). The man spits out jokes like no other — the rest of the cast barely keeps up. Ayoade balances out Vaughn's bombardment with a tempered timed delivery that's uniquely British and rarely found on the American big screen. Even when nothing's happening in The Watch it's rarely boring.
The Watch is at its best when it goes a step further mixing the group in with outsiders and throwing them off their rhythm. Billy Crudup cuts loose as a creepy neighbor and its delightfully weird while the always-impressive Rosemarie DeWitt as Evan's wife Abby brings unexpected warmth to the couple's relationship. Sadly The Watch mishandles its greatest asset: the aliens. The film never finds a pitch perfect blend of comedy and science fiction (Ghostbusters or Galaxy Quest this is not); a few scenes where the two come together hint at the best possible scenario but more often than not The Watch avoids its sci-fi roots. A moment in which the guys haul a dead alien back to their man cave plays like an E.T.-inspired version of The Hangover credits. It's lewd and ridiculous but the rest of the film struggles to maintain that energy.
Stiller Vaughn Hill and Ayoade have all proved themselves able funnymen capable of taking weak and tired material up a notch which they're forced to do in every moment of The Watch. Schaffer can handle his talent but his direction isn't adding anything to the mix. By the third slow-motion-set-to-gangster-rap scene The Lonely Island member's obsession with non-cool-coolness is officially just an attempt at being cool (which is not all that funny). The Watch has a greater opportunity than most comedy blockbusters to go absolutely bonkers: it's rated R. But instead of taking its twist and running with it the movie plays it safe. In this case safe is non-stop jokes about the many facets of human reproduction.
S07E19: HOLY SHIT.
That’s really all that needs to be said, no?
If we had to say more about it though, it would be that this is how the end begins, we guess. And holy shit was it sweet and romantic. I didn’t think Michael Scott had it in him, but he stepped up to the plate and somehow managed to make a proposal almost as sweet as Jim and Pam’s. Damn, when The Office is on it is ON.
"Shoulda burned this place down when I had the chance." -Michael (it made sense in context)
Let’s just abandon all pretense and talk about the big news: Michael proposed and didn’t screw it up completely. We also learned why he’ll be leaving, so all in all THIS WAS AN IMPORTANT EPISODE YOU GUYS. As for why he’d be leaving, I’ll be honest (like I would be any other way with you), I was a little disappointed. I kinda figured it would be a little something bigger than following Holly to take care of her parents (not that taking care of your parents isn’t important -- Mom, you’re going to a home, sorry), but whatever. The Office is based on real life and people have moved halfway across the country for less (example: cinnamon buns). It was the only real moment of gravitas in the episode but it really showed Michael’s commitment to being with Holly that he wouldn’t even think twice about leaving his “family” to be with her. Collective awwwww.
Anyway, it seems like Michael’s proposal was rather natural and it made sense since everything seemed to be leading up to it. I never thought they would drag out Michael’s love life any more than they had so it was really great that they just let it happen. By my count this is the fourth proposal on the show (Phyllis’ was off-screen, Andy and Angela's, and Jim and Pam’s), and it was just barely beneath Jim’s in terms of how endearing it was. When Michael does something right, he does it really well.
"Holy shit, is that real?" -Pam (and every girlfriend of mine -- HEYO!)
Of course, Pam helped him vet his first few dozen ideas before settling on something truly romantic. There was some really great humor here from Ryan, Jim, and Oscar as they shot down idea after idea; but they had the best intentions at heart. As Vulture pointed out about Parks and Recreation, there is an influx of awkward comedy recently (in the past five or so years) and to see The Office (the KING of awkward) get really sweet with its most awkward character was not only surprising but absolutely awwwww-worthy. The sprinkler system going off just sealed the deal. Absolutely amazing.
But can I just ask the question, WHERE IN THE HELL DID THEY GET ALL THOSE CANDLES? Small question, I know. But I had to ask.
"And that, is Dallas." -Kevin
Meanwhile, life went on in the office as usual. The big narrative story was the whole gang decided to have a garage sale, which doesn’t make sense, but whatever. It set up a few good jokes, but the whole thing was overshadowed by Michael (as usual). Ryan tries to hock his mom’s pesto and salsa and put Phyllis and Oscar on the jars. Dwight tries to barter his way up from a thumbtack to the nicest thing in the garage sale, but Jim convinces him that his bag of legumes is magic. Gotta give props to Jim for his ability to sale that little bag. He’s a master prankster.
Then Kevin, Andy, and Daryl were playing a game of Dallas together (who says Community gets all the pop culture references?) and it was actually fairly genius. I have a feeling that these three guys will have a much more prominent role in the coming weeks and next season considering they have all gotten a significant increase in screen time. It almost became mean how they kept making up the rules, but I don’t think it was vicious. Kevin just couldn’t keep up. But he got the last laugh when he stole the money. BOOSH -- perfect ending to that story.
I guess I should go ahead and bring this up here. After the episode, NBC aired the Will Ferrell promo that seemed to suggest he is the new boss. People. Be aware. Ferrell will only be on the show for four episodes. He will be temporary. So no matter what happens next week, just know that it won’t last. I know this is kind of a spoiler, but it shouldn’t be. Don’t let NBC fool you! You need to know the truth! The truth is out there!
When I had the opportunity to talk to Amy Ryan at the NYC press day for her new film Win, Win, you know I just had to ask about The Office. As Michael Scott inches closer toward his last day at the Scranton branch (and probably Dunder-Mifflin!), fans' emotions are running high and it seemed like a great opportunity to get the low down on Steve Carell's exit from the hit NBC show.
Though she was mum on details regarding Scott's replacement, she did confirm to us that her beloved character Holly Flax will not return in future seasons. And while that news bummed me out, it was quite hilarious to hear that she thinks her Win, Win co-star Paul Giamatti should make a pit stop in Scranton.
Check out the exclusive video below to see what Ryan and Giamatti had to say about Steve Carell and The Office!
S07E16 What a sweet little episode of The Office. Of course, considering how close we draw towards Michael Scott departing and how fixated he’s been on Holly, a Valentine’s Day episode was a given. But they managed to make it sweet without really giving into any of the sap or shit usually associated with the holiday.
And to think it started off with one of the most awkward cold openings of the show. The Office has done a fantastic job of mining the cringe-worthy moments of office life and they pulled out another classic. Pam delivers a condolence card signed by everyone to Daryl after the death of his grandmother, only everyone thought it was his birthday and then Andy and Dwight barge in to help him celebrate. As a single tear fell down his cheek, with Andy punching him for his birthday, The Office regained its crown as the king of awkwardville.
"That thing where you softly exhale on her neck." -Daryl
Michael and Holly are back to dating and they want the whole office to know. They lock lips, hug, massage, rub each other, and basically can’t keep their hands off each other. The entire office is sick of it and decides to hold an intervention. After having all of their public displays displayed for them, they agree that they might have been overdoing it. But then Gabe (i's always fucking Gabe) made them realize that they were going to have to split up once Toby came back from jury duty. Obviously Michael and Holly hadn’t thought of that as they never seem to think beyond the immediate. They almost spiral out of control, but Holly, lovely Holly, manages to save the day in one of the sincerest lines ever spoken on The Office and all ended up fairly well.
It was an incredibly sweet and fairly obvious plot but I think overall it worked well for the episode. Things are not going to be so smooth for Michael Scott in the upcoming weeks so its nice to have this little calm before the storm. Also it was a nice reminder for Michael that life exists outside of Dunder Mifflin. Perhaps as fans we should realize this as well. Michael Scott will leave the show and the show might suck afterward, but hey, its just a TV show. We have seven fantastic seasons and that is nothing to cry about.
"We never found that bottom did we?" -Pam
The other story lines dealt with the other two big relationships currently happening at Dunder Mifflin. First, is the funnier of the two. Jim and Pam decided to spend Valentine’s Day lunch as their romantic event so they can spend time with their daughter later. What they didn’t realize was they were getting unlimited champagne so when they come back they’re a little drunk. Actually, very drunk. They’re wasted the rest of the day and when it comes up that the rest of the office has had sex in the office (save for Kevin) they make it their personal mission to break in the office. The usual hijinks ensue when they try to find a spot, but they eventually do it behind that door that we’ve always noticed but never really seen before. Good for them.
I was particularly proud of this story, if nothing else it was funny seeing Jim and Pam be drunk. Their high five was particularly funny, but really only because it reminded me of the only other couple that could rival them in cuteness - Lily and Marshall on How I Met Your Mother. It seems like the writers never really mention their sex life if only because it would seem to ruin the pureness of their relationship. In the DVD commentary track of the episode where Jim and Pam visit Schrute Farms Jenna Fischer starts to talk about Jim and Pam’s sex life. She starts to mention about what positions they would use but they cut off the track (BOOOOOO). But it was good to see them actually mention it. I know Michael has mentioned it, but Jim would always shut him up about it.
"The temp at night." -Fucking Gabe
The other cute couple in the office, Andy and Erin, got a little closer to fruition this week. Gabe (fucking Gabe) set up a treasure hunt for Erin to figure out, but Erin, bless her heart, can’t figure it out. So she enlists the other sad sack of the office, Andy, to help her out. They attack it with glee and eventually get to the treasure: a cookie and a kiss blown through the window. Again: fucking Gabe.
Andy and Erin have really grown on me. Maybe it's because Andy is trying to act mature and give Gabe his space or maybe its because Ellie Kemper has really come into her character, but what appeared at first to be a cheap Jim and Pam knock off, has easily become its own relationship. Or it could be that my disdain for Gabe just swells so much that anyone other than him looks good by comparison. Fucking Gabe.