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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Actress Mariska Hargitay has raised $700,000 (£466,660) to benefit victims of domestic violence. The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star was joined by her former co-star Christopher Meloni, as well as Hilary Swank and Marcia Gay Harden on Thursday (26Sep13) in Los Angeles for the JoyRocks and Joyful Heart Foundation benefit dinner, which aims to raise awareness and funds to combat domestic violence.
She told The Hollywood Reporter, "Tonight is about brave souls, fearlessness, stepping up, being engaged and no more bystanding. No more. Here's a room full of courage and it just inspires the s**t out of me..."
Hargitay founded the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004 after being inspired by fan mail she received from TV viewers that felt connected to her character Detective Olivia Benson on the police drama.
Earlier this month (Sep13), Hargitay launched the NO MORE campaign with public service announcements featuring 45 actors including Amy Poehler and Courteney Cox, and another of her TV co-stars, Ice-T.
In 1971, Jan Sterling was 19 years old, married, caring for a one-year-old baby girl, and living out of a 1961 Econoline Ford Van. She was driving around the country in a state that she describes as "quite homeless." She says that her life was forever changed when, one day, she happened upon an old set of The Lord of the Rings books.
"I was saved by Tolkien's story and world," Sterling says. "It became my lifeline through those lonely, hard days and years after. It was incredible how the same story spoke to whatever life events I was experiencing."
Sterling isn't alone. The works of J.R.R. Tolkien have impacted millions across the globe thanks to the continuous publication of texts like The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and The Hobbit and Peter Jackson's highly successful adaptations of the Rings trilogy. Now, Jackson's version of The Hobbit is in theaters and is once again putting the spotlight on Tolkien. Even with the original trilogy's success, there was widespread skepticism for the project, first from the departure of original director Guillermo del Toro, and after Jackson took the reigns, the decision to split the 310 page novel into its own three-movie series. "I would say that half of the fans are worried and half of the fans are excited and pumped for The Hobbit," says John Tedeschi, a 45-year-old staff member of TheOneRing.net, the flagship site of Tolkien fandom on the web. "Most of that stems from the announcement of three movies instead of two. Most of that trepidation comes from these fans mostly being unfamiliar with the extensive world Tolkien made."
In a post-Lord of the Rings movie world, the fanbase is now a spectrum of young and old, those who read the books when they were younger and those who only discovered them after watching Fellowship of the Rings back in 2001. "I was introduced to Tolkien through general culture as I grew up, but first read the Lord of the Rings books in Junior year of High School," Craig Hermann, 40, says. "I don’t view Lord of the Rings/Middle-earth as ‘fantasy.’ It is Mythology, though contrived. I’m generally not fond of fantasy/sci-fi." Carlene Cordova, director of the documentary Ringers: Lord of the Fans, recalls receiving love poetry written in Elvish from her equally-enthralled high school boyfriend. "It had been cool to be a Tolkien fan in the '60s and '70s, but that all changed in the '80s. It was only us 'geeks' who were in to Tolkien before the Peter Jackson film franchise." That personal connection to the material carries through nearly all Tolkien fans. Marilynn Miller, 60, admits, "I felt this kind of secret, very personal relationship to them as if no one else in the world knew they existed. "
On the other side, there is Justin Sewell, who produces TheOneRing.net's weekly live video talk show, and caught Fellowship four times in theaters. "I read the books after all three films were released. The most important thing at the time was repeating that feeling of surprise and astonishment on screen. I wanted the sequels to feel like the first time I saw Fellowship and [I] was completely blown away." Aromee Kim, 27, was also provoked to pick up Tolkien's written work after experiencing Jackson's films for the first time. "I was not a huge fan of the sci-fi and fantasy genres and was dragged to The Fellowship of the Ring by a friend," Kim says. "The films got me to read anything and everything I could find in and about Middle-earth … They were the first fantasy characters I wanted to invest time in. They were my 'gateway' to other fantasy and sci-fi and comic book franchises."
Fans of the Tolkien oeuvre come from all different places and entry points, and in turn, they have noticeably different reactions to the movies. Erin Wruck, 26, tore through the LOTR books just before catching the movies in theaters. While she admires the movies, her fandom is founded on Tolkien's writing. "There's a lot in the books that I made strong connections with that were thrown to the wayside in the movies. I do understand that some things don't work on screen as well as they do on page, so ultimately everyone's favorite details and little bits aren't going to be in the movies and I'm okay with that." Hermann, who notes he enjoys the movies but can't help nitpicking as a fan, responds to Jackson's changes as reprehensible. "The change of characters and the shoe-horning of character development into an accessible format for the modern view of character arcs I found quite offensive to Tolkien’s work and study of Anglo-Saxon literature," he says.
While fans have gripes with the details, most focus on the the movies have nailed over what they've missed. With a personal history intertwined with the Lord of the Rings books, Sterling considers the work of Jackson and his co-writers Philippa Boyens & Fran Walsh to be "like having more Tolkien." When it comes to Middle-earth on the big screen, any seems to be better than none. "They stay so true to the spirit and sensibilities of the Good Professor, that I have no problem embracing their adaptation. Jackson wasn't doing the book, he's doing Tolkien," says Sterling. Cordova can't help laud Jackson's original movies for just existing, declaring that the director and his special effects team WETA "created a realism and a depth to this franchise that no other fantasy film has ever come close to." The artistry tied to the films is what continues to engross Josh Long, a 31-year-old columnist at TheOneRing.net. "The collectibles I get from Weta Workshop, Sideshow Collectibles, Gentle Giant, and Artist Jerry Vandertselt all allow me to help bring Middle-earth into my home. I can show people this is what I like and why I like it allowing me to help spread the world Tolkien created to someone else," he says.
But there's a noticeable disconnect between most Tolkien fans and The Hobbit. Whether they were raised on the books or the movies, the prequel novel stands outside the undying love for the Rings trilogy. Liese May, 45, recalls reading The Hobbit at the age of 9 (after consuming Lord of the Rings) and feeling like the books talked down to her. Wruck also picked up The Hobbit after her Rings trilogy movie and book experiences. It did not go well. "It's like going from adulthood to childhood. I found it hard to finish; I kept putting it down and starting on other things, or re-reading chapters I liked from Lord of the Rings."
That disconnect from The Hobbit may be the reason why fervor over the follow-up to the massively successful Lord of the Rings films isn't as apparent as it should be (as was the case with the Star Wars prequels. But fanbase's of any kind rarely stay silent, and Pat Dawson, forum administrator for TheOneRing.net, says she has seen every possible fan reaction to the upcoming Hobbit films — with an emphasis on "every." "Some fans are worried that [Jackson] will stray too far from 'cannon' (either regarding the book or the Lord of the Rings movies)," Dawson says. "Some fans are worried there will be too much humor (despite the fact that The Hobbit book is much lighter in tone and has it's fair share of delightful humor written by J.R.R. Tolkien). Some fans are just plain overjoyed that they'll get to go back to the incredible world of Middle-earth created by PJ and crew."
"What it needs to 'succeed' for me is likely more what it needs to not do," Miller says. "It needs to not get too ridiculous in ways that jerk me out of the gentle fantasy of Middle-earth. Moments in LOTR that tend to do that are, in my opinion, moments of pure Jackson glee, but little Tolkien magic: tossing dwarves, cascading skulls, and Wilhelm screams." Kim is also wary of additional changes that come with spreading the book into three films. "The universe is rich enough without any unnecessary characters and plot lines revolving around said characters. I thought the move to write in new characters a rather arrogant move." Anne Giffels, 54, is blunt with her list of demands: a talking purse, talking eagles, animals serving dinner at Beorn's house, and an incredibly magnificent Smaug. "I want The Hobbit movie to be true to The Hobbit book, which means that it's lighter and not as epic as LOTR," says Giffels.
What the fans do need is the essence of those previous movies. Sterling was originally worried when del Toro was slated to direct The Hobbit, afraid that the movies may be more of a reintroduction to Middle-earth rather than "a return to it." Unlike Star Wars fans, who eventually chastised George Lucas for playing to a younger crowd with The Phantom Menace, Jackson appears to have flexibility with The Hobbit, in part because the book isn't as treasured to the vocal Tolkien fanbase. "I’m probably more excited for The Hobbit than I was for LOTR," May says. "I was actually quite worried about the LOTR movies, fearing that they were about to totally stuff up the stories I love so much. I’d always heard that it just wasn’t possible to do a live-action version of the books."
When reviews started trickling out for The Hobbit, an extreme group of fans took to sites like Rotten Tomatoes to take down the blockbuster's naysayer's. Few of them had seen the film at the time, but they had a harsh words for critics giving the movie bad reviews. Miller says we can't take those "fans" seriously. "The flip side of this — the people who are extremely worried about Tauriel [Evangeline Lily's character who Jackson has created for the films] or talking purses or jumping out of their skins to see it or fussing over how many negative reviews it is getting — are way more vocal. If one judges what the fan base thinks by putting one's ear to the screen, this is all they will hear," he says.
What keeps fans of The Lord of the Rings movies coming back for more, and why no matter the general reception is to The Hobbit as viewers take it in over the holiday season, is a deep, affectionate, is warm love for Tolkien's works that is rarely found in the "geek" world. Good or bad, keeping the fantasy world of Middle-earth in the conversation is the ultimate goal. "If you read his works and are as moved [by them], it becomes an integral part of your life," Tedechi says. "I would say we are not much different from fans of other series. Fantasy is a chance to escape the world we live in, we can leave our troubles behind and be totally engrossed in a land we wished we could live in. Whenever things in my life become tough and I feel like I am losing my way, I will reread the LOTR and it grounds me and gives me the hope and confidence to deal with the real world."
Forty years after picking up her first copies of the books, Sterling is still a Tolkien lover, a proud member of groups like TheOneRing.net, and an eager fan ready for Jackson's The Hobbit. Since 2004, she has been part of the site's "Make the Hobbit Happen" effort, promoting the idea of turning The Hobbit into the film and reporting every bit of news along the way. "This is the climax of years of worry, work, hope and fear. Now, elation and so much joy for Jackson's achievement after so many years of his fighting to make these films a reality."
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
The actress recently revealed she and her husband Peter Hermann were devastated when the biological mother of a baby they had adopted changed her mind but then overjoyed when little Amaya came into their lives after a six-month adoption process.
And now she's a mum again - to baby boy Andrew, who was an unexpected miracle.
Appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, she explained, "We got a call out of nowhere from our lawyer who said, 'We have this amazing little boy and this amazing opportunity.' It was just one of those things that we were not expecting at all and my husband and I looked at each other and have never been more sure about anything, and knew it was just right.
"It all happened very quickly and that's not usually how it happens. I would say usually it takes the same amount of time it takes for a baby to grow in your belly. With my daughter, it took months and months and with my son it was... truth be told, it was two days."
But talking about the adoption process appeared a little overwhelming for Hargitay, who started to tear up.
She added, "It's pretty dreamy. Some days I just sit and pinch myself... It felt like nothing shy of a miracle. This year has been a year of true blessings."
Hargitay and Hermann are now parents of a five-year-old biological child, called August, daughter Amaya, who just turned one and little Andrew, who is nine months old.
The Law & Order: SVU star had finalised an adoption plan with a woman who wanted to give up her unborn child, and was even in the delivery room when the tot came into the world.
Hargitay and her husband Peter Hermann parented the newborn for two days - only to be told the biological mum wanted the baby back.
She tells Good Housekeeping magazine, "It was nothing short of devastating. But... it was probably the greatest, happiest ending. I mean, it was so painful for us, but it was deeply joyful and deeply right for her."
Hargitay went on to adopt son Andrew and a daughter, Amaya, in the space of six months last year (11) - and she admits the process has been challenging.
She adds, "I'm not gonna lie, there were wrenching moments. I say to everybody, 'Adoption is not for the faint of heart.' Adoption was a bumpy ride - very bumpy. But, God, was it worth the fight."
Hargitay and Hermann are also parents to a five-year-old old biological son, August.
The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star and her husband Peter Hermann brought home Andrew Nicolas just six months after adopting daughter Amaya.
Hargitay tells People magazine, "We knew we wanted to have more children. We thought, 'We should start planning now, since it will take a while.' We never in a million years thought it would happen this quickly, but something inside of us knew that that was right, and we said yes, yes, yes! We're pinching ourselves. We're just taking in this blessing."
And the actress reveals the two children have fast become friends, adding: "They'll lie in the crib together, and she'll hold his hand and put her arm around him. She's already so protective of him."
The couple already has a five-year-old son, August, who is "over the moon" about having a baby brother, and Hargitay admits she and Hermann are happily enjoying parenthood.
She adds, "There's so much adjusting, but we feel oddly settled now. It feels like everyone is home. Our family is complete now. This is what we had in store for us."
Us Weekly reports Jonah Hill and his girlfriend since high school, Jordan Klein, have broken up. A source said, "Jordan always seemed really happy and lin love. I never heard a single complaint about their relationship. [The reason for the split] was probably traveling. She would always go where he was. Now that she has a stable job, she can't just pick up and leave." - Us
Law & Order: SVU's Mariska Hargitay has adopted another child: this time, a boy named Andrew, who was born over the summer. In April, Mariska and her husband, Peter Hermann, adopted a baby girl named Amaya, and People reports that within a few weeks of the family's expansion, the parents wanted to adopt again. And so Mariska and Peter filed their paperwork last week and surprisingly, got a baby almost instantaneously. She said, "We never in a million years thought it would happen this quickly, but something inside of us knew that this was right, and we said 'Yes, yes yes!' We knew this was our guy. Everything about it felt right. It felt divinely right." - People
Ashley Greene says she and Joe Jonas' ex, Demi Lovato, are like a modern day Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston. Greene explained, "I'm really happy that [Demi] is doing well. She and I never had a problem with each other, but, you know, it doesn't go away. Jen Aniston still gets asked about Angelina Jolie." Good grief, dollface! What an insurmountable problem. - Us
The man-child: a staple character for modern comedy and notoriously known for being played one-note. They get the laugh they get out.
But turning the lovable goofball or zoned-out knucklehead into something more is no easy task—which makes Paul Rudd's work in Our Idiot Brother that much more impressive. Rudd's Earth-friendly farmer Ned (the closest thing to a new Lebowski we've seen since the original) finds himself down on his luck after being entrapped by a police officer looking for pot. After a stint in jail he abandons his rural hippie commune for the big city to take shelter with his three sisters. Unfortunately for Ned his three siblings Liz (Emily Mortimer) Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) and Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) are as equally displaced and confused from the ebb and flow of life—albeit with severely different perspectives of the world.
Liz struggles to put her kid in private school and keep her marriage to documentary filmmaker/scumbag Dylan (Steve Coogan) intact. Miranda claws her way to the top of Vanity Fair's editorial staff and shuns her flirtatious neighbor (Adam Scott). Natalie stresses over her commitment issues with girlfriend Cindy (Rashida Jones) leaving little time or patience for Ned's bumbling antics. Sound like a lot of plot? While the manic lives of Ned's sisters click symbolically with his journey to get back on his feet it makes for one sporadic narrative.
Like a series of vignettes Our Idiot Brother never gels but when director Jesse Peretz finds a moment of unadulterated Nedisms to throw up on screen the movie hits big. Whether it's Ned teaching his nephew how to fight accidentally romancing his sister's interview subject or infiltrating his ex-girlfriend's house to steal his dog Willie Nelson the movie relies heavily on Ned's antics and its smart to do so. But thin throughlines for its supporting don't hold a candle to Rudd doing his thing.
And its a testament to Rudd's versatility—the man has done everything from Shakespeare and raunchy Judd Apatow comedies after all—that makes the movie watchable. Rudd gives dimensionality to his nincompoop character allowing darker emotions to creep in when necessary. There's a point in the film when Ned gives up fighting for his type-A sisters' affection and it's some of the best material Rudd's ever delivered. But like one of Ned's lit joints Our Idiot Brother can quickly fizzle out leading to plodding plot twists and sentimental conclusions. Mortimer Banks and Deschanel are great actresses—here they drift through their scenes and come out in the end changed. Because they have to.
Our Idiot Brother tries to take the Apatow model to the indie scene and comes through with so-so results. Only Rudd's able to find something to latch on to to build upon to warm up to. In an unexpected twist it's the man-child who seems the most grown up.
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.