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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Grandmaster Flash has become the first DJ to be inducted into Hollywood's RockWalk. The Message hitmaker, Grand Wizzard Theodore and Grand Mixer DXT added their handprints and cement signatures outside Sunset Boulevard's Guitar Centre on Thursday (06Mar14).
Flash, real name Joseph Sadler, led the Furious Five, and Grand Wizzard Theodore, aka Theodore Livingston, pioneered scratching.
DJ Jazzy Jeff hosted the ceremony and introduced the three icons as "the Mount Rushmore when it comes to DJs".
Grandmaster Flash, Grand Wizzard Theodore and Grand Mixer DXT join the likes of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Iron Maiden and Run-DMC on the RockWalk.
Everybody wants to break into the movies. Broadway actors, television directors, drama club lighting designers. Even musicians. Many a pop artist made famous by the record business has hitched his or her wagon to a big screen production, trying hand at the art of score composition. Tom Cruise's upcoming sci-fi venture Oblivion will exhibit the stylings of musicians M83 — the French electronic duo, comprised of Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau, has chiseled a slab of original music for Universal's post-apocalyptic movie, including the below track "All I Heard," featuring vocals by Susanne Sundfør.
While the realms of film and music often work in tandem, this sort of endeavor represents a degree of cinematic investment a few notches higher than your standard soundtrack contribution. A movie's original score is a whole separate animal from its lineup of adopted songs. When an artist takes on the duties of a composer, he embraces a project beyond a mere piece of music — he is crafting the atmosphere of a larger, multifaceted story. As such, he needs to enter a cinematic mentality, to think not just as a songwriter but as a filmmaker as well.
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This won't be the first movie venture for M83. Gonzalez collaborated with Daft Punk on another Joseph Kosinski film, 2010's TRON: Legacy.
But the feat is not specific to these subjects. The likes of David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Stewart Copeland, Trent Reznor, Beck, Marilyn Manson, and many others have braved the waters of score creation. Take a listen...
David Bowie: Composer for the 1986 film Labyrinth
Mick Jagger: Composer for the 1966 film Alfie
Stewart Copeland: Composer for the 1987 film Wall Street
Trent Reznor: Composer for the 2011 film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Beck: Composer for the 2010 film Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
RELATED: 'Good Vibrations' Is a Heartfelt Ode to the Power of Music
Marilyn Manson: Composer for the 2002 film Resident Evil
Neil Diamond: Composer for the 1973 film Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Los Lobos: Composer for the 1995 film Desperado
Queen: Composer for the 1980 film Flash Gordon
Peter Gabriel: Composer for the 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
[Photo Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images]
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With each outing in his evolving filmmaking career actor-turned-director Ben Affleck has amped up the scope. Gone Baby Gone was a character drama woven into a hard-boiled mystery. The Town saw Affleck dabble in action pulling off bank heists many compared to the expertise of Heat. In Argo the director pulls off his most daring effort melding one part caper comedy and two parts edge-of-your-seat political thriller into an exhilarating theatrical experience.
At the height of the Iranian Revolution in 1979 anti-Shah militants stormed the U.S. embassy and captured 52 American hostages. Six managed to escape the raid finding refuge in the Canadian ambassador's home. Within hours the militants began a search for the missing Americans sifting through shredded paperwork for even the smallest bit of evidence. Under pressure by the ticking clock the CIA worked quickly to formulate a plan to covertly rescue the six embassy workers. Despite a lengthy list of possibilities only Tony Mendez (Affleck) had a plan just enticing enough to unsuspecting Iranian officials to work: the CIA would fake a Hollywood movie shoot.
There's nothing in Argo or Affleck's portrayal of Mendez that would tell you the technical operations officer has the imagination to conjure his master plan — Affleck perhaps to differentiate himself from the past plays his character with so much restraint he looks dead in the eyes — but when the Hollywood hijinks swing into full motion so does Argo. Mendez hooks up with Planet of the Apes makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to convince all of Hollywood that their sci-fi blockbuster "Argo " is readying for production. With enough promotional material concept art and press coverage Mendez and his team can convince the Iranian government they're a legit operation. A location scout in Tehran will be their method of extracting the bunkered down escapees.
Without an interesting lead to draw us in Affleck lets his eclectic ensemble do the heavy lifting. For the most part it works. Argo is basically two movies — Goodman and Arkin lead the Ocean's 11-esque half and Affleck takes the reigns when its time to get the six — another who's who of character actors including Tate Donovan Clea Duvall Scoot McNairy and Rory Cochrane — through the terrifying security of the Iranian airport. Arkin steals the show as a fast talking Hollywood type complete with year-winning catchphrase ("ArGo f**k yourself!) while McNairy adds a little more humanity to the spy mission when his character butts heads with Mendez. The split lessens the impact of each section but the tension in the escape is so high so taut that there's never a moment to check out.
Reality is on Affleck's side his camera floating through crowds of protestors and the streets of Tehran — a warscape where anything can happen. Each angle he chooses heightens the terror which starts to close in on the covert escape as they drift further and further from their homebase. Argo is a complete package with the '70s production design knowing when to play goofy (the fake movie's wild sci-fi designs) and when to remind us that problems took eight more steps to fix then they do today. Alexandre Desplat's score finds balance in haunting melodies and energetic pulses.
Part of Argo's charm is just how unreal the entire operation really was. To see the men and women involved go through with a plan they know could result in death. It's a suspenseful adventure and while there's not much in the way of character to cling to the visceral experience tends to be enough.