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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Six months after his breakup with Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake is finally talking about it. Timberlake told People magazine that he still can't say the words "break up" because it hurts too badly. "You get to a point where you're crying yourself to sleep at night," he said. "I feel like I'm in the middle of a soap opera. I honestly know what it's like to have a broken heart now." Timberlake appears in People's June 24 issue, featuring "America's Top 50 Bachelors."
"I want that," is what Michael Jackson told his entourage about Queen Elizabeth's golden throne while touring Britain's Houses of Parliament on Friday, Reuters reports. Jackson--with friends magician David Blaine and psychic spoon bender Uri Geller--visited Westminster, where his unannounced visit took tourists by surprise. The bizarre trio is now headed to the city of Exeter for a children's charity event organized by the local soccer club, which is headed by Geller.
Former Party of Five star Jennifer Love Hewitt is releasing her debut album, BareNaked, on Sept. 24, Reuters reports. The self-titled single from the album, which was co-written by Hewitt and Meredith Brooks, will hit the airwaves July 1.
Director Joel Schumacher is developing a remake of the 1937 film A Star Is Born for Warner Bros. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Schumacher may also direct the pic, which is being produced by Jon Peters, with Will Smith in talks to take on the starring role.
British actor Jason Statham, who played Turkish in 2000's action comedy Snatch, has joined the cast of The Italian Job by director F. Gary Gray. According to Variety, the film focuses on a heist crew out to steal gold bullion by creating the largest traffic jam in the history of Los Angeles. The film also stars Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and Edward Norton.
Pamela Anderson may soon be sending out her résumé. Columbia TriStar Domestic Television is pulling the plug on Anderson's syndicated action/adventure series, V.I.P., Reuters reports. In a statement Thursday, Columbia Tristar blamed the show's cancellation on financial troubles.
William Shatner will host a new series of late-night movies on the Sci-Fi Channel called William Shatner's Full Moon Fright Night starting July 20, The Associated Press reports. As well as introducing movies, Shatner will re-enact gruesome scenes from that night's film.
Michael Jackson, Barry Manilow, Sting, Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson and Randy Newman were honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame on Thursday night, the AP reports. Liza Minnelli and her husband, David Gest, accepted the award on behalf of Jackson, who is currently in Great Britain. The ceremony will air on the Bravo network Oct. 7.