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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There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.
The sleepy Walk the Line star had just woken up from a nap after arriving in London last week (ends06Dec09) when she tripped over herself - but she insists she didn't feel any pain because her foot had fallen asleep.
She then proved her bravery by forcing herself into a pair of staggering high heels to appear on U.K. talk show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, where she showed off the injury.
She told the host, "I think I broke my foot. I'm not sure, I haven't had a scan yet. I was taking a nap yesterday because I was real tired, I had jet lag. You know when your foot falls asleep... Then I stood up. Someone called me on the phone and I went to answer the phone, and I said, 'Oh I tripped over my shoe or something!' I looked down and it was my foot I had tripped over! And I hadn't had a thing to drink! I was stone sober! Then it swelled up and now it's all black and blue."
First, an apology. Because "Fail Safe" was presented "live" last Sunday, and because the ending was a closely kept secret, and because we never bothered to actually see the original movie on which it was based, we just had no idea. If this column was responsible in any way for your sitting through an hour and a half of nail-biting suspense, only to get to the part where the president of the United States decides that dropping an atomic bomb on New York City would be a good idea (as opposed to the goofiest plot point ever), we apologize. We would also like to apologize on behalf of the 1960s, a time when, apparently, this ending made sense.
-- The Discovery Channel presents three hours worth of some pretty rare footage of dinosaurs in their natural habitat. Actually, "Walking with Dinosaurs" (7 p.m. PDT, today) co-produced by the BBC, gets its spectacular images from a combination of exotic location shots and state-of-the-art "Jurassic Park"-style digital effects. What’s different and clever here is that the show is presented as a standard nature documentary. And as such, it features a lot of the day in a dino life events that kids will particularly enjoy (like dino pee and dino poop). It’s also maybe a full hour too long. If you’ve got kids, ask them to show you how to work your VCR so you can tape it for them.
-- And speaking of long - Heston’s back! And this time it’s personal! ABC keeps the annual holiday tradition going with the four-hour epic "The Ten Commandments" (7 p.m. PDT, today) starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner and, sadly, not William Shatner. But he would have been perfect in it. Somewhere along the line, probably because it is so beloved, this film started appearing in movie guides as rating four stars. The truth is, it ain’t "Citizen Kane." But there is definitely something about it. If you grew up with this movie, you’ll probably watch at least part of it again (this columnist checks in for at least the Edward G. Robinson scenes every year). If you’ve never seen it before, you might enjoy watching your kids watch this movie. Even if they can’t last through the whole thing, they would still probably love to try. Watch for a cameo appearance by God about three hours in.
-- For those out there with more sophisticated viewing tastes, "Masterpiece Theatre’s" presentation of "David Copperfield" (9 p.m. PDT, PBS, today and Monday) is a keeper. Maggie Smith and Ian McKellen continue their streak of being in every single British-produced film. And they, along with Bob Hoskins, are as engaging as ever, playing these astonishingly captivating characters. Nobody can break your heart while choking you with laughter like Charles Dickens, and this performance does his work justice.
-- "Trapped in a Purple Haze" (8 p.m. PDT, ABC, Monday) is a change of pace from the made-for-TV Monday night movies we’ve been getting. This one trades in the camp appeal of "Satan’s School for Girls" for a much grittier realism, as a teen athlete (Jonathan Jackson, "General Hospital") messes up his life in a hurry with a new girlfriend ("Popular’s" Carly Pope) and her best buddy, heroin. Don’t expect "A Tale of Two Bunnies." This one is unusually serious, and unusually well done.
-- Despite what NBC says you "must see," Fox offers up the show of the night Thursday with the surprising hit British movie "The Full Monty." This film starts off with a quaintly funny premise (unemployed and decidedly unbuff steelworkers form an all-male exotic dance troupe to make ends meet) and then goes on to turn into something pretty special. Great characters portrayed by the likes of Robert Carlyle and Mark Addy and great heart made this an unexpected theatrical hit in 1997.