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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Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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British/Australian actress Joyce Jacobs has died at the age of 91. The beloved personality passed away at a nursing home in Sydney on Sunday (15Sep13) following a decade long battle with Parkinson's disease.
After moving Down Under from England in 1962, Jacobs began her acting career, joining an amateur dramatics group before landing regular roles on soap operas Number 96 and The Young Doctors.
She found national fame when she moved to longrunning programme A Country Practice to play gossip Esme Watson. Her stint on the show ran from its pilot in 1981 until 1993. She later reprised her role when the show was briefly rebooted in 1994.
She went on to appear in longrunning medical drama All Saints in 1998 and 2000. Her death comes a year after the passing of her husband of 64 years, Ian.
Joan Collins landed a role on hit British sitcom Benidorm after her sister told the world the actress is a big fan of the show. The former Dynasty star fell in love with the vacation-based comedy after watching the first five seasons with her author sister Jackie during a mammoth festive TV session.
She was so impressed she told Jackie she would love a role in the show, and her dream came true after the word spread on Twitter.com.
Joan Collins tells Hello! magazine, "My sister Jackie got me into this. One Christmas we watched the series back to back and I laughed so much that I said, 'I would love to be in this series.' She tweeted it and a week later the creator Derren Litten was on the phone.
"Without giving too much away, I play Joyce Temple-Savage's boss. There's a great twist at the end but I can't reveal what it is..."
A necktie once owned by John Lennon has sold for more than $4,500 (£3,000) at an auction in the U.K. The black knitted tie went under the hammer at the Beatles Shop in Lennon's native Liverpool, England.
The Imagine singer handed the tie to fan Joyce McWilliams in 1962 when she was a teenager watching the Fab Four play at the famous Cavern Club.
She recalls, "The Beatles were recording some numbers and I was sitting on the edge of the stage holding the microphone stand. It was very hot in the club and John asked me to lend him a handkerchief to mop his brow with.
"He handed it back to me, and loosened his tie when I said, 'I thought you were going to give me your tie,' and he just handed it to me."
McWilliams admits she was devastated when her mother later washed the sweat-drenched handkerchief by accident.
Rare photos of The Beatles also sold at the auction, and shop manager Stephen Bailey insists, "Every year we think that the quality and number of rare items offered for auction must decrease and we are always proved wrong. It is amazing, people just keep coming into the shop month after month with the most unusual rare items."
Veteran rock stars from Roxy Music, The Smiths, Suede and Supergrass have teamed up to form a new supergroup for an upcoming drama series. Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera, The Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, Suede bassist Mat Osman and Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes have come together as Chaz Chance And The Prophets.
The fictional 1970s glam rock band was put together to feature in a three-part U.K. TV series titled The Records, which charts the highs and lows of a music industry talent agent, and the rockers have recorded three songs for the show.
Joyce tells NME magazine, "The calibre of the players - heroes, y'know (sic) - it'd be mad not to do it. And the tracks are genuinely good. They sound Bowie-ish, but they're not a pastiche."
Actress Kelly Rutherford has landed a recurring role on U.S. TV show Reckless just months after filing for bankruptcy. Rutherford filed bankruptcy documents in June (13) citing her custody battle with ex-husband Daniel Giersch and lack of work as the source behind her financial woes.
The actress revealed that she has debts of over $2 million (£1.3 million) and has spent $1.5 million (£968,000) fighting for custody of her children Hermes and Grace, who now live with Giersch in Monaco.
The former Gossip Girl star will play Joyce, a reserved and hard-nosed member of the City Council, on the series which also stars Anna Wood and Cam Gigandet.
TV psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers has died, aged 85. The popular columnist and U.S. television personality passed away on Monday (13May13) in New York City from natural causes, according to her long-time publicist Sanford Brokaw.
Dr. Brothers, who was a pioneer of the television advice show, first gained fame as a winning contestant on television game show The $64,000 Question in 1955, becoming the only woman ever to win the top prize.
Three years later, her celebrity status grew after she landed her own advice programme, the Dr. Joyce Brothers Show, on America's NBC network in 1958.
She went on to host syndicated advice shows on both TV and radio in a career spanning over four decades and Brothers even made cameo appearances on popular TV shows including Charlie's Angels, Happy Days and Frasier.
Dr. Brothers also penned a monthly column in America's Good Housekeeping magazine for almost four decades, and a syndicated newspaper column that she began writing in the 1970s, which at its height was printed in more than 300 newspapers.
She published several best-selling books, including the 1982 book, What Every Woman Should Know About Men, and the 1992 book, Widowed, inspired by the loss of her husband, Milton Brothers, who lost his battle with cancer in 1989.
Dr. Joyce Brothers, a popular columnist, psychologist, and television personality passed away Monday in New York City. Her publicst explained that Brothers passed after battling illness for several years. She was 85.
Her notoriety began after winning the top prize (while also being the only woman to do so) on the popular game show, The $64,000 Question. From there, Brothers pioneered a career in the world of adviced-based television shows in 1958 with her own series on a local New York station. Coincidentally, this was also same year Brothers became a licensed psychologist.
She also found success in the publishing world. Brothers wrote for Good Housekeeping magazine for almost four decades, and had a newspaper column starting in the 1970s that was later syndicated nationwide. She is survived by her daughter, Lisa.
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Melissa Joan Hart and Mandy Moore marked America's Mother's Day on Sunday (12May13) by reaching out to the women who lost children in the Connecticut school massacre. The actresses took a moment to sign an e-card to pledge support to the Sandy Hook Promise group, which supports families affected by the elementary school shooting in December (12) which left 20 children and six adults dead.
In a post on her Twitter.com page, Moore writes, "Just signed sandy hook's card supporting Moms of Gun Violence victims on Mothers Day. You can too", while Hart posted a similar message.
Chris Brown, Sean 'Diddy' Combs, Ricky Martin and Kelly Osbourne were also among the celebrities who took to their Twitter accounts to mark the special day, with the singer-turned-reality TV star praising her mother Sharon.
She wrote, "To cherish, love all. realize my dreams & always appreciating my many blessings I learned all of these things from you MrsSOsbourne I Love U", while Brown added, "I wanna praise the woman who created me! 'Momma Joyce' happy Mother's Day. Thank u for always letting me be creative and dream! Love you mom."
Cher posted, "I want to send my love, to mothers everywhere! I know what a hard job it is, because I've fallen short So Many times!", Combs declared, "Happy Mother's Day to all of the beautiful mothers out there", and Paula Abdul shared, "No matter what you give Your Mom... presents aren't nearly as important as PRESENCE. Time spent is priceless."
Martin, who is father to twin boys born via a surrogate, writes, "Happy Mothers Day! Specially mine (Nereida)... And also to all those amazing surrogate mothers out there! You are a blessing!" and Missy Elliott gushed, "Not just 2day but every day is Happy Mother's Day to all the Great moms!"
New mother Beverley Mitchell revealed her first Mother's Day since giving birth to daughter Kenzie was set to prove challenging, stating, "Kenzie is certainly having a day! Making me work hard to earn my first Mother's Day. Thank goodness Michael & I are taking turns. meltdown."