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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David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
Welcome back to the live shows, Voiceers. This recap is brought to you by copious amounts of Tom Yum soup and Halls, which are both good for when that irritating family of mucus blobs from those commercials sets up shop in your face.
Whereas last week was spent thinning Blake and Christina’s respective herds, giving four people the hard life lesson of, “You just aren’t quite good enough,” now it’s time to listen to Teams Adam and Cee Lo. Lest you forget, these are the teams:
Karla “My Inner Voice-Beast Is Named 'Bertha'" Davis
Katrina “Attacked by Killer Mold” Parker
Kim "This Woman Can't Possibly Be 50" Yarbrough
Tony "Christina Totally Faked Recognizing Me from the Mickey Mouse Club" Lucca
Pip "I'm So Freaking Precious I Don't Even Have a Last Name"
Mathai "Well, I'm So Twee I Don't Need a Last Name Either"
Team Cee Lo:
Cheesa "My Name Makes No Orthographic Sense"
Erin "WHAT DO YOU MEAN I'M NOT SEXY, BABYFACE?" Martin
Jamar "Literally the Definition of a Comeback Kid" Rogers
James "Am I Not the Spitting Image of Ziggy from The Wire?" Massone
Juliette "The Grit in My Voice Has Its Own Grit" Simms
Tony "Someday I'm Going to Hiss into the Camera Just to Freak Everyone Out" Vincent
Carsonbot asks a really awkward question of Cee Lo, which is basically, “You are the awesomest, does that make your team feel inferior?” Cee Lo demurs as Adam makes a crack about Blake’s super-casual dress. “This is how little of a crap I give about your team,” Blake explains. Carsonbot’s Joke API is malfunctioning, so he uncomfortably moves us along.
Katrina is up first, doing “Tonight, Tonight” by the Smashing Pumpkins. You guys. This. Song. Always and forever, this song is high school, driving home, heartbroken after your best friend you were madly in love with told you he was gay... Anyway. “Don’t be Adele; be Katrina,” advises Adam, wisely. It’s a decent take, though she doesn’t have the same raw, vocal leanness as Billy Corgan.
Christina thinks Katrina did sell the connection, though she kind of wanted Katrina to rock out a bit more. Cee Lo says it was a “commendable effort,” oof. He adds that this shouldn’t be a performance, it should be a cathartic experience. He’s not wrong. Adam disagrees and thinks she was fantastic.
NEXT: Mouseketeer vs. Mouseketeer!
Cheesa is disheartened by the backlash against her, which I guess I am technically part of, sorry. She’s doing “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” This song plays into her strengths, it’s true, and it’s a good enough performance, setting aside the fact that her costume looks like something Jeff Winger would have worn in season one of Community.
Blake loved it: “That was like watching solid gold,” whatever that means. Adam concurs it had “Cee Lo” written all over it. The only problem is that there are so many great singers — he doesn’t know what’s going to make her distinct. But it was a great performance! Cee Lo “disagrees” with Adam — he thought it was a wonderful performance (which doesn’t actually disagree with what Adam said, but whatever).
Tony Lucca is doing “In Your Eyes.” Freaky irises (irii?) expand and contract on the blackness behind him like fireworks, making me regret my Tom Yum and also wish the producers hadn’t gone quite so on-the-nose. It’s... mostly serviceable, surprisingly. We know the guy can knock it out of the park, but he doesn’t this time.
Christina finds him a little one-dimensional and thinks there are better voices on the show, yeowch. This is one of Adam’s favorite songs and it touches him (heh), so he was proud of Tony for taking the challenge. But why make him do that song, then? Tony looks like he just drank a beaker of acid.
Kim Yarborough’s turn! She wants to do “Rolling in the Deep.” NO, KIM. STAY AWAY FROM ADELE. “That is a motherf**ker of a chorus,” Adam says in a confessional, but he lets her do it. Sigh. She’s good, and she does have the depth to her voice that’s needed, but lord a’mercy, enough.
Blake thinks the song got better as she went along; she was a little sharp at first. Cee Lo thinks Adam should have made her do something else, because of all the reasons I have articulated what seems like a hundred times before. Adam loves her, but is going to be a coach now: there were some problems.
NEXT: I "Don't Know Why" the girls love Ziggy — er, I mean James.
Ziggy James thinks maybe he can win. (No. Not if the TV Gods exist.) He’s doing Nora Jones’ “Don’t Know Why.” There are leaves on the stage? And a bench. And a street sign that says “James St.” The performance is nothing remarkable, and I’m unsure why the girls in the audience are reacting with even half a Bieber of enthusiasm.
Blake almost threw his panties onstage. Really? I don’t understand, y’all. Christina liked James’ more subtle approach, though there were the usual pitch issues. Cee Lo whips the crowd up to a full Bieber and thinks they will push him through.
Juliet had five record deals, and none stuck? Yikes. She’s doing “Roxanne.” Confession: I love the Moulin Rouge version of this song. Haters to the left. She basically knocks it out of the park and gets a standing O from all the coaches.
Adam’s still pissed she didn’t pick him, because this was the best performance he’s seen thus far. Christina thinks Juliet’s voice is dope, because we’re still using that term apparently, and she’s super jealous. “Even old crap-jacket over there liked you,” Adam says.
Mathai is “supposed to do music,” according to her. In this case, John Legend’s “Ordinary People.” Adam wants her to stay with the pain of the song, since she can sometimes get away from that. But during her performance she’s still mugging for the camera with every breath, playing up that cutesy bull she’s done all along.
Christina likes a few of the touches she put on the song. Blake loves her confidence. Adam thinks she’s magical, and he couldn’t be happieraskdnoiub...
Sorry, I strained my eyes there, with the rolling and all.
NEXT: Erin Martin wears my Cleopatra costume from fourth grade.
Tony Vincent’s wife just had a baby. He’s doing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears. My notes simply say: “WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE BACK-UP DANCERS’ EYES? THEY ARE GLOWING LIKE DEMONS.” He does well, of course, but no better than expected. Maybe it’s the song choice.
Carsonbot’s empathy algorithm is activated and he congratulates Tony on entering fatherhood. Blake doesn’t feel great about the theme, which he perceived as Hell, and had trouble concentrating on Tony’s performance. Preach, Blake. Christina basically calls him a p*ssy. She wanted something more; Tony seemed restricted. Cee Lo agrees, and is sorry about that. But the performance was still great! He believes that there is an Evil Empire, and that love can conquer hate, and Tony can rule the world because he’s a Lover. I want to spend 10 minutes in Cee Lo’s head, just to see what it’s like in there, because what? (Any longer would break my feeble mortal mind.)
Karla chooses “Airplanes.” She’s a little too quiet and out-of-breath. Where the hell is Bertha? We start to get hints at the very end, but it’s too little, too late.
Christina was surprised by the song choice, though she thinks Karla did well. Blake thinks the song choice was bad. Adam knows that nerves and bad energy can do a lot to a person’s voice, which they clearly did here, and that she could have done better.
Oh, good god, Lemon. Erin Martin is wearing my Cleopatra costume from fourth grade (it fit more demurely on my 9-year-old frame), minus the awesome fake gold Asp I had. She’s doing The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian,” which, what? The performance is Cee Lo to a T, but its only redeeming qualities come from that aspect. Vocally, she’s doing the same thing she’s done the whole competition, which is bug the hell out of me with her whispy non-voice that everyone keeps praising. Is this like the “James Massone is a ladykiller” thing, where I Just Don’t Get It?
“Here we go again with the male strippers,” Blake laments. “Blake just bought a one-way ticket to Bonertown,” says Adam, and he fires back, “And it’s non-refundable.” I wish they were drunk and just saying things like that the whole time. Bonertown!
Christina thinks Erin needed to bring it harder if she wants people to think of her as more than just a pretty face. Cee Lo didn’t mean for the stage dynamics to be distracting, and acknowledges he kind of failed.
NEXT: A Disney woodland creature takes on "When You Were Young."
Pip, who looks like a Disney woodland creature brought to life, is doing The Killers’ “When You Were Young.” What is this, Make Oriana Flash Back to Her Wasted Youth Night? Lord. Prior to the performance, Adam tells him not to be so smooth, but I guess he can’t help it, because while he does tone down the Musical Theater Lead voice, he’s still not quite... rock enough. “It’s like Glee doing this song,” says my BFF. (Please don’t do The Killers, Ryan Murphy.)
Christina appreciates his vocal ability, but is with Adam in that she wishes he’d discarded more of his skill, just this once. Pip’s heart has now taken up residence in his stomach. Adam likes that he tried to be different, though he agrees with me that the kid wasn’t rock ‘n’ roll enough.
Jamar is our closer, with “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” by Lenny Kravitz. I anticipate he will destroy the stage. There are women playing guitars on stilts, but even they can’t distract from Jarmar’s rocking the hell out of this entire thing.
The crowd is at, like, two-and-a-half Biebers. Cee Lo looks like the Purrfect that got the cream. Adam says Jamar embodies what this show does, and a single solitary flake is chipped from my icy black heart.
And that’s all for Monday night. Go forth and vote, Voicelings!
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S06E17: It’s a testament to How I Met Your Mother’s writers that they are still able to create these fairly complex narrative mysteries week after week as well as over the whole season. Take for example this week’s episode which was framed around some random day ten years in the future. Not-quite-as-future Ted (the return of grey Ted!) meets the waitress at a Hong Kong airport and they start the story. It seemed that the episode had nothing to do with this future event, which kept me wondering how it would all tie together, but lo and behold everything came together at the end. Not a bad episode HIMYM, not bad at all.
"I’m just saying that the eggs are already broken, lets make sure we get a pretty good omelet out of it." - Zoey
First: the big news! Zoey definitely isn’t the mother! I know we had all ruled her out (some a little more viciously than others), but I do believe this was the first in-canon mention of Zoey’s fate? Either way, we know for sure that Zoey won’t be procreating with Ted. Which means we’re once again spinning our wheels waiting for this ho to go. I mean, I like Zoey fine enough, but now that I know she isn’t the mother I’m bored with her. I know something will eventually happen, there is no mystery left, so there’s no suspense. Let’s just get it over with -- dump her already! Or have her dump Ted! Either way, someone's gotta get dumped!
Anyway, the main story is that Ted promised to pick up a box at Zoey’s old place. While there he runs into The Captain, who as it turns out, doesn’t know who Zoey ran away with. He keeps wanting to hang out with Ted for some bro commissary time and Ted is nervous as expected. Eventually after listening to The Captain’s miserable stories Ted thinks that he might actually be the bad guy in this story; but Zoey cheers him up saying they gotta make a good omelet since the eggs are already broken. Aww, that was sweet of Zoey. Too bad the bitch has got to go!
"You’ve been pork free so long you’re practically Kosher." - Barney
Meanwhile, Marshall was once again still depressed about his dad. It seems to me that the writers are basically seeing how his dad’s death effects all of his character traits. Last week it was his man-boyishness and now we’re on to his guilt about not being an environmental lawyer. It’s a parade of depressing character traits! Yay! Look, I know losing a parent is a tragic thing and one of the worst aspects of growing up, but this is a really funny sitcom! I want to laugh! Now get back to being a giant funny man, Marshall! But seriously, sorry for your loss.
Marshall’s depression has also taken effect on Lily as well. Basically Momma ain't gettin' the lovin' she’s used to gettin'. Lily realizes that Marshall is in a rough place, but still, a woman has got her needs that have to be fulfilled! She dresses up in negligee and quite literally throws herself at Marshall but Marshall’s depression runs deeper than that. Seriously, you know it's bad when someone turns down Alyson Hannigan in lingerie. But since Marshall and Lily are perfect she is fairly willing to go dumpster diving (oh yeah, Marshall got really upset after watching this documentary about Trash Island and is now obsessed with cutting the plastic rings from six packs). That's not exactly the dress of choice for me when I go dumpster diving, but I guess they have cleaner dumpsters than I’m used to.
"She’s tiny so she’s allowed to push kids." - Barney
Now for the rest of the gang: Barney really does like Nora! Oh snap, he might get another girlfriend! This is a pretty big deal, right? He’s only been smitten once before and that was with Robin, so this could be a big story coming up. And since I doubt they would repeat the exact same plot as they did when Robin and Barney dated, something serious could develop! Could Ted be the best man at Barney’s wedding when he meets the mother? After all, we never see Barney at the flash forward/backwards wedding. Perhaps he knocks Nora up. That could explain why Barney would marry her - after all considering that upcoming episodes feature his dad (played by John Lithgow) who never stuck around, he might want to be there for the kid. I really like this theory, I’m sticking to it.
But as for Robin? She’s basically been cast aside. There's not much happening with her (at all), besides helping Barney. Perhaps the writers have something lined up for her later in the season, but man she has not been getting any good stories recently. However, she has still made her presence felt which I think is a great testament to Cobie Smulder’s acting. She can do a lot with a little. Hopefully she’ll be good in The Avengers and considering how much talent will be in that movie she’ll need all the help she can get to stand out.
At least Bewitched has the smarts to reinvent itself contemporizing rather than going for a straight remake. First we meet Isabel (Nicole Kidman) a naïve good-natured witch who wants to give up her supernatural powers to lead a "normal" life--much to the chagrin of her warlock father Nigel (Michael Caine). He doesn't believe she can do it. Neither do we. Then on the other side of town we meet Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell) a nearly washed-up actor who's done one too many bad films. To get back on track he decides to do an updated version of the beloved 1960s sitcom Bewitched. As the mere-mortal Darrin Wyatt would be the star of the show not the actress cast as Samantha. In order for that to happen a nobody must play the witch. Lo and behold Jack runs into Isabel who can manipulate her dainty nose in just the right wriggle. He persuades her to take the part while she sees Jack as the quintessential mortal man with whom she can settle down and lead the normal life she so desires. Think it'll work out? (Cue the Bewitched theme song).
We all know Kidman can play complicated and romantic and Ferrell can do comedy. But in Bewitched they each try to do something beyond those skill sets. Unfortunately they can't quite pull it off. Kidman of course is a consummate actress. She can take on just about any character and make it her own including the slightly ditzy eternally cute Isabel. And so she taps into her inner witch once again (like she did in Practical Magic). But trying to remake comedies (like The Stepford Wives) especially something as balls-out as Bewitched doesn't really suit the Oscar winner all that well. And in Ferrell's case he hilariously handles all of Bewitched's improvisational comedic moments as expected. But watching him try to be a romantic leading man is a bit cringe-worthy. I mean if you can make smooching on Nicole Kidman look uncomfortable you certainly aren't doing the job. As far as the rest of the cast everyone is pretty much wasted in one form or another. Caine as Isabel's debonair roué of a father and Shirley MacLaine as the diva-esque actress who plays Bewitched's wonderful Endora have a couple of bright moments but don't get nearly enough to do. The same goes for Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore) as Jack's unctuous agent and Kristin Chenoweth (from the Broadway musical Wicked) as Isabel's spirited neighbor. Even Steve Carrell (TV's The Office) as the irascible Uncle Arthur can't offer the right spontaneity. What a shame.
One of Bewitched's saving graces however is writer-director Nora Ephron. She knows romantic comedies having helmed such hits as Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail as well as writing the quintessential romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally…. Bewitched is right up her alley and she fluffs it up like a pro. Yet overall the film is just too darn silly for its own good. Maybe Bewitched suffers from the whole TV-turned-film phenomena in general. The idea of taking such classic TV favorites and adapting them into feature films continues to prove there isn't a shred of originality left in the studio system. But sometimes the concept works (Starsky & Hutch is one that comes to mind). Fans like me are curious as to how filmmakers will rework the material and are especially interested in who they decide to cast to play those beloved icons. We end up giving each one of these big-screen treatment iterations a chance--and are usually disappointed. Bewitched is no exception. Besides being only mildly entertaining to diehard fans Bewitched's inside jokes will most likely go over the heads of those who can't tell Samantha Darrin Endora Aunt Clara Uncle Arthur or Mrs. Kravitz from the characters on I Dream of Jeannie. Probably best just to own the sitcom's DVD collection instead.