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
While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
In the 1980s and '90s, we knew a man by the name of Paul Verhoeven. We loved this man. This man was good to us. Among his contributions to society was Starship Troopers, a film that Sony producer Neal Moritz has taken on for a remake...probably to the chagrin of many a Verhoefan.
Verhoeven showered us with films from a vast array of genres, ranging from science fiction to stories about mentally unbalanced women. Actually, those are the only two subject matters he really worked with...but that's fine, he did well with them. Verhoeven was responsible for dramas like Basic Instinct and Showgirls, and a collection of sci-fi classics, including Total Recall. Now, in the vein of the sentiment addressed above, some Total Recall fans have announced their displeasure with an upcoming new version of Total Recall, directed by Len Wiseman. But in all fairness, Wiseman's upcoming film, starring Colin Farrell, is in fact not a remake of the movie, but another (supposedly more faithful) adaption of the Philip K. Dick story that inspired Verhoeven's 1990 flick.
But the Starship Troopers remake is straight from the source material of Verhoeven's 1997 man-versus-bug epic starring Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards and a pre-omnipresent Neil Patrick Harris. Attached to write the script are Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz, who have worked together on the scripts for X-Men: First Class and Thor, and on TV series Andromeda, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Fringe.
As stated above, it's unlikely that a remake of Verhoeven's Starship Troopers will be undertaken without a great deal of hostility. A lot of people loved that movie, and a lot of those people probably wouldn't trust anybody to remake it. But a remake they shall have...so we'll have to see how well it lives up to the original.
Passion, Fahrenheit have some Globes trouble
Even though they were two of the most talked-about films of the year, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 have hit some snags regarding the eligibility for Golden Globes, Reuters reports. Fahrenheit will not be eligible in any Globes categories because it is a documentary, for which there is no separate category, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. does not allow docus to be considered in the top film award categories. Passion, in which much of the dialogue is spoken in Aramaic, also cannot compete for best drama because it is considered a foreign-language film, but can be considered for best foreign film. Nominations for the 62nd annual Golden Globe Awards will be announced Dec. 13, with the winners revealed in a Jan. 16 ceremony to be telecast live on NBC.
Farrell says no thanks to 007 role
You won't be calling Colin Farrell the next James Bond anytime soon. In an interview with Reuters on Sunday to discuss his soon to be released film Alexander, Farrell, 28, was asked about taking on the 007 role, endorsed by the former Bond, Pierce Brosnan, who last week said that Farrell should get the job because "he'll eat the head off them all." Farrell feigned outrage at the thought of becoming the sixth James Bond in the series, joking he was shocked by Brosnan's suggestion and if he got the job, he just might employ an Irish accent to confuse fans of the suave British agent. "The idea of me playing James Bond got into the press, but it is not true. I would not like to do it…they should find someone the audience has no history with," Farrell said. And the hunt is still on.
Pitt visits Ethiopia on AIDS mission
Actor Brad Pitt spent four days in Ethiopia to learn more about AIDS in Africa as part of a fund-raising campaign to combat the disease on the world's poorest continent, a spokesman told The Associated Press Tuesday. The trip was organized by DATA, a Washington-based lobby group co-founded by rock star Bono, which campaigns on Third World trade, debt and HIV/AIDS. Pitt began his first visit to the Horn of Africa country Friday and left late Monday night. "It was a listening and learning visit," DATA spokesman Jamie Drummond told AP.
Burt Reynolds accuses ex-girlfriend of extortion
Burt Reynolds sued his former girlfriend of 10 years, Pamela Seals, alleging she threatened to falsely accuse him of abuse unless he paid millions of dollars in extortion, AP reports. According to the lawsuit, filed Monday in West Palm Beach, Fla., Seals falsely accused Reynolds of yelling at her and stomping on her toes. Seals told the 68-year-old actor she would publicize her allegations if he didn't agree to a hefty settlement that included support for Seals and her mother, and half of Reynolds' Jupiter home. Reynolds' lawyer, Bob Montgomery, said the actor offered to settle the matter for $1 million but Seals refused. He added Seals is not entitled to anything under Florida law because the two were never married.
Ewan McGregor makes musical theater debut
Ewan McGregor, who stars as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, will make his musical theater debut as Sky Masterson in a remake of Guys and Dolls in London's West End, AP reports. Frank Loesser's original Guys and Dolls opened on Broadway in 1950, but next year's revival, which is set to debut in June, will be the first new London production in 23 years. The role of Masterson was made famous by Marlon Brando, who played the desperate gambler in the 1955 Hollywood film starring Jean Simmons and Frank Sinatra. The show will be McGregor's first on-stage singing role. He previously performed in theater and displayed his singing and dancing talents in the musical Moulin Rouge.
Trump's Apprentice has classroom appeal
Donald Trump's hit reality series The Apprentice is proving to be more than just good TV. AP reports professors from business schools around the nation are including Apprentice tips in their MBA programs. Denise Schoenbachler, chair of Northern Illinois University's marketing department, told The New York Post Monday students in her Marketing Apprentice class competed for scholarship money by selling football tickets and raising money for troops in Iraq, a concept inspired by the show. Trump himself has said he's impressed with his show's classroom appeal at schools such as Babson College in Massachusetts, Southern Methodist University in Dallas and Ohio State University in Columbus.
SAG announces dates
Submissions for the 11th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards close Thursday at 5 p.m., Variety reports.. To be considered, submissions must be made online at Sagawards.org or by calling the SAG Awards office. Actors, meanwhile, are nominated in five film and eight television categories. Nomination ballots will be mailed Dec. 10 and must be returned by Jan. 7. SAG members will receive their final ballots Jan. 11-the same day the nominations will be announced. The winners will be announced during the awards ceremony Feb. 5 at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. TNT will broadcast the event.
Guylaine Cadorette contributed to this report.